Self-Doubt vs. Evaluation

One of my #Row80 goals for this round is to prepare my WIP for self-publication. Part of that goal was to participate in a manuscript swap before it goes to the editor. The swap (?) mentioned several flaws that I had not noticed before. Structural flaws with the plot and characters. It wasn’t all bad, there were positive points as well. But let’s be real, it’s the negative ones that sends us to the freezer for Blue Bell.




I spent the rest of the day and night, thinking about these flaws and wondering if I should put off publishing. Is it self-doubt or healthy evaluation?


According to the dictionary:

Self-doubt- a lack of confidence

evaluation – assessment, judging the value of something

Hmmmmm. My WIP is the first full length novel I have written. That in itself is probably reason to bury it in the bottom drawer. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t emotionally attached to this book. I am and I know it. I also know there are some great characters and scenes. I’m not blind to the flaws.

The thing about self-publishing is, anyone can publish anything. It’s cheap and easy. You want to publish your manifesto, you can. It doesn’t mean you should. This is true of all writers not just the self-published.

My goal as an indie author is to publish the best work I can.  Edit the crap out of it and have other people critique it and edit again. And again. Repeat as often as necessary. The hard part is knowing when it’s ready. Not everyone will like what we write, that’s OK.

Do I have cold feet about publishing a novel?  Possibly. It’s a huge investment hiring an editor and cover artist. I have to know the book is ready. And after this critique I’m not sure.  I have too many questions of my own. In honesty, that’s not new. I’ve made a lot of changes to that book. The best course of action, at the moment, is to set the book aside and let it rest. All I have done since NaNoWriMo is critique and edit. I’m going to work on writing something new. Something I’ve been wanting to write for a while.  I think a change in activity is what I need.

I’m not putting off self-publishing for long. I have two short stories in the pipeline. I need time to make important decisions about my WIP.

How do you know when it’s ready for publication?


4 thoughts on “Self-Doubt vs. Evaluation

  1. Love that comment: “It’s the negative ones that send us to the freezer for Blue Bell.” I don’t know why negative comments weigh in so much more heavily than positive ones. My questions are: Did you have more than one beta reader? Maybe another would help you ‘see’ what the next best step is. Sometimes putting the novel back in the drawer helps. A kind of rest. Your post here suggests first-time self-publishing jitters and a concern about costs (hiring an editor and commissioning a cover) as well as when, oh when do we know when our wip is ready. I ‘know’ when my stuff is ready when 1) the story sings. 2) when another story calls so hard, all I want to do is let go of the current wip, and, not least, 3) when all my questions about the story — from story line, structural, thematic, and all those levels of editing — have been resolved. As a self-publisher, you can update/fix minor errors pretty easily, but remember Voltaire who said something like: ‘Sometimes the quest for perfection destroys the good.’ Thank you for a thoughtful post. I hope whatever you decide moves the writing forward.


    • I’ve had two complete MS swaps and readers for different chapters. Before I make any decision another beta would be useful. A rest is definitely in order. Voltaire must have been self-published! Thanks for the comments.


  2. From Elizabeth Bear, written in 2006, but still applicable no matter what the publishing option:
    “Those of you have finished a book and revised it and done everything you know how to do to it to make it better, and won’t send it out because (a) you hate it or (b) you think it’s still broken. Quit it….They’re all broken. Every one of them. Every novel I’ve published, every novel I’ve sold, every novel I’ve ever read has something wrong with it.”

    Letting the manuscript rest while you work on something else sounds like a good idea. Come back later with fresher eyes and see if it needs/can be fixed, or if it’s just fine as is.


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