There’s only one way to find out whether anyone thinks your work is publishable. Send it to a publisher! That story hidden away on your computer or buried under a pile of papers won’t get anywhere if it stays there unseen.
While different publishers might have different standards you can guarantee they will want the best. If your work isn’t quite up to scratch (and sometimes you have to accept it might not be) they will tell you. You are unlikely to get feedback for your submission but you can never tell. That will be up to the individual publisher.
For a publisher it’s about sales; they want good work that is likely to sell. And selling is what you will want your work to do as well. You do want people to read your story, don’t you?
Of course you can always self-publish but how do you know it’s good enough to put out there in the public domain?
If you are considering self-publishing you really need to examine your motives for doing so. Is it simply because you fancy the idea of seeing your name in print? Or because you think you’ve got something good enough that other people will want to read?
Don’t forget that these days people leave reviews for things bought electronically and there would be nothing worse than having all negative comments. This would affect your ability to sell anything in the future as well as that e-book you just published all by yourself.
Unlike having a publisher accept your work (which is about the best accolade you can have) you will need to find proper impartial feedback before going to the effort of self-publishing. Don’t forget, it’s you who are going to be doing the work of finding the right cover, the right layout, and of marketing your novel.
You could always ask people you know to read your work and see whether it’s worth publishing. But remember, friends and colleagues may well praise you for your writing but they also have an emotional connection to you and will want to encourage and please you. Publishers have no such connection and will be far more selective about what they choose.
Of course, just because you’ve sent your pride and joy off to a publisher doesn’t mean they will think it’s any good, or that it’s the right topical subject (yes, there are trends on subjects – do your homework).
You can expect rejections. All the best writers got them, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling included! But they will often include a few encouraging words with their rejection letter or email. Take it on the chin and take it seriously and take their advice if they give it.
If you do get feedback rewrite your story and try again. Submit to a different publisher (after doing your homework and finding a suitable one for your subject matter). If you don’t persevere you won’t get anywhere.
Another reason for rejections is the topic not being what they are looking for. This is where research pays off. Find out what each publishing company seems to go for. Is it romance, historical fiction, science fiction, crime or mystery? Do they look for topical stories? Don’t bother sending a grisly Victorian detective story to Mills and Boon – it won’t get published by them.
The raw truth is that most submissions are rejected, especially if it’s your first.
When you eventually get the interest you’ve been hoping for expect to feel fear as well as joy. Fear that you may at last have the chance of being put to the public eye for close scrutiny, and joy that all your hard work has paid off.
There’s nothing better than an actual publisher writing to you and asking to see more of your work. The first time it happened to me I was over the moon. It meant I had something; I wasn’t just a hobbyist scribbling rubbish stories, someone was taking my writing seriously. They wanted to see my completed manuscript. I had to write back and tell them that the short story I submitted was the complete manuscript, there was nothing else to send. But it meant they liked my writing style and subject matter enough to want to see more. It gave me a tremendous confidence boost.
And that’s what you’re after.