How Do You Know When Something Is ‘Ready’ for Publishing?

Very rarely will you write a first draft and decide it doesn’t need any polishing up before you send it off.


Will that thing you’re writing ever be ‘ready’ for publishing? Probably, if you ask yourself these questions before taking any next steps.

Is it finished?

This might seem obvious, but look closely. If it’s a story (novel, novella, short story), are all the loose ends tied up? Have all your round characters developed significantly from start to finish? Is everything consistent, edited and cleaned up? If it’s an essay or article, are all important points addressed and explained? Are they actionable, including helpful tips? Do the intro and conclusion open and close the piece properly?

Very rarely will you write a first draft and decide it doesn’t need any polishing up before you send it off. Even if you think you don’t need to look over it one more time, do it anyway. That’s not to say the more time you spend on something, the more likely you are to get good results. Give it the time and effort you think it deserves, but make sure all the key elements are there.

Do you feel good about it?

We are all harsh self-critics, so you are never going to feel like what you’ve just written is the best thing ever created (er, let’s hope not, because honestly, it’s probably not). However, when something is ‘ready’ to be submitted for publishing, there’s a certain sense of peace that comes along with it. You aren’t necessarily fully confident – it’s a big deal, and it makes sense to be nervous – but you’re sure the piece is as good as it’s ever going to be before sending it out.

I submitted an article to the Huffington Post this week. It was something I wrote that I was really proud of. Did I expect someone to contact me right away about publishing it? Of course not. They get hundreds if not thousands of submissions a day, because everyone wants a HuffPo byline. But that article was my baby. I worked hard on it. I felt like it was ready for the world, so I just went for it. It’s probably lost in the shuffle, and that’s fine, but when you just KNOW something is ready, there’s no reason why you can’t, and shouldn’t, just take a chance and see what happens.

Do you have an audience and publication/editor/agent in mind?

If you have already written something, you should already generally know who your audience is. But there are a lot of different publications that cater to the same audiences. Always know where you want your piece to go before you send it anywhere. Sending it out to every website, editor, agent, etc. to increase your chances of getting it published … just don’t do that.

What’s most important is that whether or not you feel fully confident, even when you’re nervous and/or new to this experience, you take this step because YOU want to. You really, really want this. You have something to share that others might find value in, and you want to get it out there.

There are people out there who do this just because everyone else is doing it. They do it because they want more people to visit their website or follow them on social media. Those are perks you might get, but don’t be one of those people who paraphrases someone else’s article, down to subheadings, just to put your name on something even though you didn’t come up with the ideas (I saw this the other day, and though it’s subtle and not direct copying, it’s still copying someone else’s ideas, and it infuriates me. DO NOT DO THIS).

You have valuable things to say. Are you ready to show them to the world?

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to (Strategically) Self-Publish a Book


It’s more than just writing, editing, uploading and posting a link on Twitter.

Writing a book is an amazing feat. If you’re thinking of trying out the self-publishing route, there is, believe it or not, a strategy to it. You’re not going to sell very many copies of your latest masterpiece if it’s poorly written, haphazardly designed or not promoted at all.

Here are a few self-publishing tips, and links to some of our other resources, to help you start working toward some of your 2016 writing/publishing goals!

Write, rewrite, edit, share with a friend

The first step to self-publishing is obviously writing the book you’re going to distribute online. Which is hard enough. But just because you don’t have to jump through traditional publishing hoops doesn’t mean you should put any less effort into producing the best book possible.

Take the time to not only write a great first draft, but also to edit, revise and recruit a friend or two to read and give you honest feedback. Here are a few self-editing tips to help you get started.

Find the self-publishing platform that works for you

If you have ever started the self-publishing process to get a free proof copy of your book to edit on paper, your best bet is to use that same platform, the one you’re most familiar with, to actually go through the entire process when you’re ready to publish your book. You can shop around all you want, but sticking with the platform you know works, and seeing how it goes the first time around, will save you time.

Platforms like CreateSpace do a lot of the formatting for you as you’re putting together your book, if you’re not quite as experienced in the book design department. You also have the option to design, via templates or on your own, in whatever way you want.

Check out our review of CreateSpace.

Build up to your release

Don’t just toss your book on the market and say, “Hey, look what I did!” Part of marketing your work is getting your potential readers excited about what’s yet to come. Your friends and family will (hopefully) be totally on board, but you might have a decent social media following – and they might be interested in your latest project, too.

Set up a group or email list to invite those interested in your book to receive updates leading up to your book’s release. Share excerpts and even let them help you with some of the smaller decisions, like designing your cover or picking a name, if you want.

Get more tips on how to promote your work strategically.

Even if you give self-publishing a try and it doesn’t work out the way you expected, at least you took the time to practice the various steps of the process and started to narrow down your target market. We wish you the best – happy writing!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

[DISCUSSION] “Publishing” Your First Piece of Writing


I remember the first time I held it in my hands.

My story. My words. In print.

This was more than just a series of paragraphs scrawled on notebook paper, shoved under my bed for no one else to see. This was a book with real binding, with a real picture on the cover. Real words on the pages. My name.

Okay, so the words were still written in my 10-year-old handwriting, and the picture was a web image glued onto the front. In fifth grade, everyone wrote a story, everyone got a blank book with blank pages to write it in, to give to their parents for Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrated, they were just then starting to get fussy about that in public schools).

All I remember about my first “published” story was that it was about a dog named Molly that got lost in a snowstorm. I imagined her as a Dalmatian because (1) Disney, duh, and (2) it made more sense for a Dalmatian to get lost in snow. I was more excited for my parents to open it on Christmas morning than I was about opening my own presents that year.

It was probably five pages long, full of flat, static characters and missing a linear plotline. BUT IT WAS REAL. And it was mine.

I’m pretty sure that’s when I started wondering if I could ever be a writer someday. I’d been writing little, meaningless stories for a long time, but it had never been a dream of mine to be an author, not really. I was more interested in painting and dancing and writing music (artsy much?).

You don’t ever forget your first “published” story. I think it changes you, even when you look back on it. I’m sure my mom stored that book away somewhere with all my other fifth grade projects, and someday I’ll probably find it again and be able to reflect how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown, since then.

I entered a literary arts competition when I was 13. I think I won an award, for a poem I wrote, but for some reason I don’t remember. What I remember most was how nervous I was showing my mom when she helped me submit it, and how self-conscious I felt about a bunch of other people reading it, too.

When I was 16, on the same day, I received in the mail (1) my very first proof copy of one of my very first novels and (2) a free print copy of Teen Ink magazine, in which, to my surprise, one of my essays had been published.

That was a pretty good day. Both pieces of writing were pretty awful and you could probably find one of them online if you looked hard enough (don’t). But once again, that didn’t matter. My name. In print.

A few weeks later, I published my first blog post.

It never gets old, honestly. Putting a name to your words, putting it out there. Not because I love seeing my name in print, but because I’m so desensitized to it now, when people think it’s cool, you remember how cool it was the first time, and it’s like you’re publishing something for the first time all over again.

I think it’s healthy to keep bringing that feeling back. Because it’s very easy, the more you publish, to forget that it’s still a big deal. Sure, everybody’s doing it. But that doesn’t make it any less of an accomplishment.

I also think it’s healthy to share these kinds of stories with each other. Not to brag, but to encourage. To remember. To feel on top of the world again, even if only for a moment.

So what’s your story? Do you remember the first time you ever “published” something? What was it – a blog post? An elementary school project? A post on a forum somewhere? Where are you now, compared to where you were then?

Do you remember how it felt?

Wasn’t it amazing?

Isn’t it, still?

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Do Everything (and Write): An Interview with Autumn Slaughter


Finding time to write, and writing well, seems impossible for some. For others, it just becomes one of many challenges that make life worth the busyness. For today’s featured writer, it’s a talent turned hobby turned success story. School, work and writing go hand-in-hand, and busyness is just a minor side effect that comes with putting good ideas into well-crafted words. 

Autumn Slaughter is mere months away from an advanced degree in counseling psychology, and hopes to pursue a PhD in counseling or clinical psychology. While earning her B.A., she wrote for her university’s student newspaper, and has articles published in Country Line Magazine and the Solphur Springs Telegram.

She has also self-published three books through CreateSpace, and is currently working on a novelette, “Run,” which follows a female runner through the Oklahoma City Marathon.

When she’s not writing, you can find Slaughter doing just about everything else—including snapping photos, studying and running copious amounts of mileage. We sat down with her to hear more about how she balances it all—and how you can, too.

How to you balance your day-to-day activities with your writing?

Very carefully. I work full-time and have internship responsibilities connected to my masters program. I carefully manage my free time. Once a month I participate in a poetry open-mic where I receive great feedback and support, which helps keep me motivated to produce more work for the next event.

Much of my writing is done at the free time I have at work. Since I work in the service industry, there are slow days that allow me to write and work on homework assignments.

How has studying human behavior influenced the subjects you address in your writing?

You can only write about what you know, so if you want to have a lot of depth in your writing, you have to know a lot. Psychology, especially counseling psychology, is a great way to know a lot. I’m constantly talking to people who are very different [from] me and provide insight into worlds I would have never explored without their help.

What is your ideal writing environment?

There’s no necessary outer environment, but there is a necessary inner environment. I cannot write if I’m apathetic. I have to be feeling something, and it needs to be an emotion I can clearly identify, if not necessarily explain.

How can high levels of stress affect someone’s writing process?

I work very well under stress, but I always prefer not to, and since I write as a hobby—a way of relaxing—I will not write if the activity is producing more stress. I already have enough of that from my course work.

What’s the most effective way to manage stress and still make time for writing?

You just have to take care of yourself. Do things you enjoy, eat [right], exercise, all the old, tried and trued clichés.

How do you find time and energy to “do” when doing gets tough?

It helps that I am a very driven person, and enjoy doing things. I [would] rather be editing photo from a shoot or planning a poetry collection than sitting on the couch watching television—and that is what really keeps me going. I just like doing.

What advice would you give someone who wants to write, but just can’t find the time to sit down and do it?

If you really want to do it, at some point you’ll sit down and do it. Writing isn’t like playing video games or reading leisure books. It’s a discipline. It’s a type of work, and that’s not for everyone.

 If you feel too busy to write, making writing part of your busyness, even if it sometimes feels like work, can reap just enough reward to make it all worth it. We need a little stress to keep us going, but if you’re determined to get it done, you will always, eventually, find a way.

You can find Slaughter’s poetry on Amazon here. Also check out her senior thesis-turned-memoir, her flash fiction and this poem that won first place in a 2013 contest.

Image courtesy of Autumn Slaughter.

Use CreateSpace to Bring Your Book to Life (31DBBB Day 28)


So you’ve finally finished writing that monster of a book, huh? Well that accomplishment deserves a reward, my friend. Sure, you’ll need to move on to revisions and query letters and all that jazz if you’re serious about seeing your work go to print “for real.” But you don’t have to wait to hold a proof copy of your finished novel in your hands.

Even if you aren’t planning on self-publishing your book—that is, making digital and print copies available online for anyone to purchase—tools like CreateSpace can still help you take your project to the next level.

Proof copies of your book can not only make you feel pretty good about yourself for 15 minutes; they can also make the revisions process a little easier by giving you a different medium to reread what you’ve already written. It’s a worthwhile step to take before going any further, whether you want to officially self-publish or not.

CreateSpace makes it easy to format and design your pages and book cover

You don’t have to know much about graphic design or typography to set up the literal ins and outs of your book. Free built-in tools take you right through the process and help you design the book you’ve always dreamed of. It takes a little time to align the format to a set of standards and play around with cover templates, but it’s worth the effort. And if you do know a thing or two about design, you’re allowed to upload your own work, too.

Ordering a proof on CreateSpace is so, so cheap

And that’s without a NaNo-courtesy discount (if you needed a push to write just a little faster this November). You can order a proof copy of your book for less than the cost of a book you’d get from Barnes & Noble, plus shipping … unless your book is ridiculously long with color pictures. Price is dependent, obviously, on what gets printed (there’s no set predetermined cost).

Oh … and you can also order more than one

If you have a few close friends who wouldn’t mind reviewing your work, CreateSpace allows you to order up to five proof copies before you have to choose whether or not to approve it and move forward with the publishing process. This way, you can reserve one copy to keep on your shelf (because, why not?) and use the rest for marking and dog-earing, if your’e into that sort of thing.

I have used CreateSpace to print proof copies of all the finished first drafts of my books. I have never gone past the proof copy step—nothing against self-publishing or those who do, it’s just not for me—but I’ve always been impressed with the results nonetheless.

If you need some reassurance that all this writing nonsense isn’t all for nothing, holding that first copy of your book, you know, that thing you wrote all by yourself? It’s a pretty amazing feeling. It’s cheap and it’s YOURS.

You can thank Problogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge for prompting this review. What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts or your past experiences with CreateSpace or other similar platforms!

Love&hugs, your readers<3

Image courtesy of

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.