Good enough to publish?


I recently read a rather unpleasant comment to a blog post about self-publishing. The gist of the comment was if a publisher will not publish your work then it is not good enough to publish so don’t. Apart from the tone was very rude and condescending I thought the post showed his ignorance about how publishing worked.

I’m sure we have all read the articles about how great authors had numerous rejections, some being told to give up writing. The truth of the matter is, like the rest of us a publisher is human with their own prejudices and preferences then are not the arbiter of what is good or worthy they are simply looking for commercial. Even then they are taking an educated guess on what will sell. I don’t like romance novels as a rule however there is no denying their popularity. Even the author of 50 shades of Grey would never claim it to be a literary master piece but there is no denying its commercial success.

I have read than most publishing houses have quotas of books they can take in a year. Rejection by a publisher could simply mean bad timing.

Personally I think a good test if a book is good enough to publish is; would another person gain enjoyment from it. A while ago I bought a series of four fantasy fiction books that were self-published. I thought they were awful I was a little cross with myself wasting all that time reading them. I went on to good reads thinking I might write my first review on them and I saw some very positive reviews of the books that several people had obviously enjoyed reading. So who I am to say they are rubbish?

If you think someone will enjoy what you have written then go ahead and publish!



30 thoughts on “Good enough to publish?

  1. You are so right: so much of what we read is personal preference. That said, I do appreciate good writing, but can be prepared to forgive bad writing if the content is really good – fiction or non-fiction. And then, how to define good writing? I prefer simple, uncomplicated writing. That doesn’t mean not using long sentences or big words; what it does mean is not selecting obscure words and getting the grammar (mostly) right, and as few typos as possible. The second last is because that can be where one should have poetic/creative licence and the last because I often miss mine (proofreading is an abject failure of min).

    Liked by 5 people

  2. idk about SP in today’s world with amazon and e-books, etc…but i’m sure the SP’ing writer is gonna haveta put some money on a table some where…so are trying to simply get your msg out? or are you trying to feed yourself at the same time?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me I need to finish my book first. I think my post is more about the right to publish than the finical side of it and if anyone has the right to tell you not to. For me I would just want to get my book out there to see if people liked it but then I have a well paying job so I’m lucky.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. A great post, Eric. It reminded me that when I first joined Goodreads I couldn’t wait to see what other readers had to say about some of my favourite books – Possession, Atonement, The House at Riverton, etc. Well, I was horrified that so many people had written negative views about books I absolutely adored. It was a valuable lesson to me that the judging of reading material is always going to be subjective, and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    The writers’ group that I joined in South Africa had monthly competitions and almost every month, the judges would say that they had judged the works based on their own opinions and that on another day, another judge might have ruled differently. People will always have an emotional reaction to what they read, because the beauty of books is that they are written with emotion as the most important element, as opposed to a movie which prioritizes other things like action, special effects and other clever tricks that books cannot rely on.

    As for publishers, let’s be fair – they run a business and have an agenda, a quota, a set of financial goals, etc – we can’t blame them if they don’t see our writing making them enough money to justify the expense of them putting it out there for us. If our books are not going to appeal to the mainstream, then we are better off putting them out there ourselves and taking our own risks. Thanks to the advent of ebook self-publishing, we can.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Susan, publishers, as well as agents have their own opinions about what will be a good seller in a book, just as our readers have their own preferences in what they read. None of us have a crystal ball that can tell us if we will be successful as authors or not. If we have a story to tell and can get it down on paper (or PC), then we have every right to do so. I cannot tell you the sense of accomplishment that I felt the first time I held my own book in my hands.

      However, having the right to publish our own work means to me that we have a responsibility to our readers to write that story to the best of our ability and make sure it is as error free as possible. If that means doing the proofing and editing on our own due to cost or sending it to a professional, or anything in between, then we need to do that.

      Regarding those who believe that good books only come from traditional publishers…I’m sorry that you are so narrow-sighted. Move on!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. You are quite right, Eric. But it is also unfortunately true that the other side can give substantive arguments that may topple ours. As you mentioned, you might not like Romances.. neither do I, but can we be dismissive about it? Now, being diplomatic, we tend to answer as if we are as just as King Solomon and say “But, of course, we are always fair.. we may not like it, but we do not bear any bias towards it”.. But if we were honest, really brutally honest, we would probably sheepishly answer (“Oh goddamn these Romance writers, I hope they all die tomorrow.. I don’t see why they must even live and take away my bread and butter… I hope they are taken by the plague…” etc.. 😀
    Ok, I am probably stretching it a little. But trust me, in our hearts, we want to strangle the writer of insipid romances but who sells really well, we want to kill that writer of such silly fantasies that would not have been touched with a barge pole by a traditional publisher merely two decades ago..
    Yes, it is conceit, as you think.. but it is also human nature (as you also mentioned).. I just said this on another blog just a couple of days ago.. that publishers are also human.. and I guess I must have rubbed a few people the wrong way with that stand… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of friends, who is helping me with my book is a best selling paranormal romance writer so I better be careful how I answer! My experience of romance readers is they don’t often read other genres. I think most of us stick too one or two so I’m not sure if they are hurting other book sales. I’m going sound like a bit of a snob but most of the people at work who read 50 shades were not big readers. Feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hahaha.. why would I ever say that?? hahaha.. I am actually chortling.. No.. that is exactly what I said, and what I think…. yes, I know what you mean.. sometimes we have to be polite.. (sometimes people are blatantly false, in their praise, even if without any conviction)… and not say the wrong things.. but this time you said the right things, and no one will mind, certainly.. (if there is a mind, that is)..
        But yes, you are right.. it might or might not affect sales.. but isn’t it true that every single day we have stories published in the digital or traditional media that would not merit one look from normal readers (and yes, it is conceit to think of ourselves as normal and the readers of other genres as abnormal… still, those genres did not even exist until some brilliant marketing mind invented them)…
        Nope, not correcting you, don’t have the time for it.. too busy chortling at winning one more ally 😀

        Hey, just kidding.. I always say the wrong things.. but I hope you understand…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I may have read the same comment. I guess we are all allowed to our opinions, but I did feel sorry for the writer of that note. Obviously they just haven’t tried the right indies.

    I have made it a point to read small press and self published books as much as traditional books for the last two years. What was interesting was that I was distracted by formatting errors and typos as much, if not more so, in the traditionally published books. I don’t think I noticed the errors because I expect more quality out of them because I don’t. Most of the self-published books I read have gone through the same amount of editing and formatting, they just aren’t as well known.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. An excellent on observation on the topic of publication Eric, there are many reasons why some writings aren’t published professionally, as you rightly point out, what may be one man’s liking may not be another’s, also the fact that not all writers have the financial means to be professionally represented, like myself, even then self publication can be expensive, in my case my readers are all on WordPress, at least this way I get written feedback.
    Persevere my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It is ignorant, I think, to comment in such a way, and shows that the commenter isn’t really familiar with self-publishing or the success stories there. Fifty Shades was self-published at first, The Martian (the hot new movie with Matt Damon) was also self-published, as was Still Alice, which Julianne Moore won the Oscar for last year. Even Beatrix Potter self-published her first book! There are a lot of fantastic self-published books out there – perhaps the person who made this comment just hadn’t read any of them.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Reblogged this on Sharon K. Connell and commented:
    I totally agree, Eric. I have readers looking forward to my next book after reading the first three. Had I not self-published they would not have been able to read the first three stories I wrote. It is simple arrogance that causes someone to make a statement like the one you quoted.


  9. I think every book finds its audience eventually. Even the greats like Stephen King have faced rejection. Like you said just because a trad publisher rejects a book doesn’t make it a bad book. Write what you know, write what you like to read, but write well and make sure it’s properly edited. Those are key points to publishing.

    Liked by 1 person

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