Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Writers: take the crap test so you'll know if you're good enough to publish a book

Allegedly "everyone has a book inside them." After seeing so much crap between book covers I can't help feeling that many published books should have stayed with the bones and guts and not be allowed outside the bodies of the writers.
  • Many writers turn to self-publishing after accumulating a pile of rejection letters from agents and publishers--the "gatekeepers" of traditional publishing. (Gatekeepers are not perfect. They frequently accept crap, or reject books that are later accepted by their competitors and go on to be popular and/or have critical success.) The ego, over-confidence or blind ignorance of rejected writers may make them think that the gatekeepers who rejected them are idiots who don’t recognize the work of a true genius when it’s displayed before them.
  • Other writers simply choose to not risk rejection by the gatekeepers, saving years and anguish by taking advantage of self-publishing.
  • And others (like me) choose self-publishing for its independence, potential higher profit and quick route to reaching readers.
If you are in any of those groups, before you expend any money, time or effort in becoming a self-published author, and if you want to publish for money and not merely for ego gratification or perceived status, I strongly urge you to take the crap test.

There are three versions of the test:

(1) Submit an article of at least 1,000 words to a newspaper or magazine. Convince an editor that it is not crap and get paid at least $200 for it, and actually see it in print.

(2) Join a writers’ group, actively participate, do the assigned writing exercises, and get the honest opinion of the group leader and at least some participants that what you write is not crap.

(3) Take a college course in journalism or creative writing, do the assigned writing exercises, and get the honest opinion of the instructor that your work is of professional caliber and is not crap.

If you can’t pass the crap test, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t self–publish. But it does mean that it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll make any money at it, and that the money you spend may as well go down the crapper.

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