How Do You Know?

[When I started drafting this post, I switched from my regular writing station on Pandora to my Christmas station, and the first song it played was the one with my heroine’s name. The Latin version of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” sings Gaudé, which is Gaudiloquence’s nickname. I take this as an excellent sign.]


I’ve going back through Gaudiloquence and the Frozen Story, reading it aloud to a dear friend. It’s one of the sweetest sorts of intimacy, letting someone I deeply care about see my heart made verbal. I melt every time they laugh or ask me to keep reading.

I’ve read through it several times on my own since I began querying, not to revise or look for flaws, but just to enjoy the story. I think that’s a good sign, when I still love reading through my favorite scenes (the forest of magical creatures, and the temple of the patron saint of breakfast) and ache with empathy for my heroine on her journey. And each time I’ve read through, I’ve felt confident in all the work I put in—another huge thank you to my friend and unofficial editor, Cecilanne—and believed it was as good as I could make it, apart from catching and fixing the occasional typo.

This time, however, I began to see patterns. I’d think, Oh, I should fix that sentence, no big deal. But then I’d think the same thing later down the page. And then again on the next page. And the next.

I don’t know if it’s just the clarity that comes with time and distance from the last time I edited it, or if I’ve learned more in the meantime, but probably both. I can do better.

It’s a strange feeling: knowing there’s a chance that one of the Thanks But No Thanks I’ve gotten could have been a Yes if I’d sent my manuscript later, after this new round of editing I’m undertaking. There’s frustration, certainly. And something similar to regret, but not quite, because I can’t regret any part of my process when I’ve done my best each step of the way.

The prevailing feeling is one of hopeful opportunity. It’s easy to lose confidence when the rejection emails keep coming in. But this perspective helps me know that not only am I a good enough writer already, I keep getting better. I will keep getting better as long as I keep writing (and reading).

This year, two of my writer friends have decided that they’re done with pursuing traditional publishing, and both will be self-published authors by the end of the year. I find this tremendously inspiring, and I admire their tenacity and talent more than I can say. And, naturally, it makes me question yet again whether traditional publishing is the right path for me or if I should follow my friends’ example and get Gaudé out into the world through self-publishing.

Much like the question of How Do You Know when your manuscript is ready to query, the question of How Do You Know if you should self-publish is rarely, if ever, clear and simple. I don’t know how I know that I should keep editing and querying for a while, just that it feels like the right next step. Much like the little thrill of hearing my heroine’s name sung in a reverent and ethereal song, I trust that feeling.

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