Dear Indie Annie,
I’ve been working on my story for a while now, and at first I really loved it. Lately though, I’m starting to wonder if it’s any good. I know I’ll need an editor, but should I just give up on it? How do I know if my story is worth finishing?
Conflicted in Calgary
We are rarely the best judges of our own work, especially when we have been living with it for a while. Having doubts about your story, or your abilities as a writer, is perfectly normal. I doubt there is a writer on the planet, or through history, who hasn’t sat where you are now, facing their precious manuscript, and wanting to throw it all in the recycling bin. Impostor syndrome is rife in the writing community, and I would dare to say it is even more acute in the indie publishing world because we don’t have the comforting validation of a publisher who says they believe in our story and our talent.
An editor’s job is to make your words shine. They work with you to bring your vision to light. A developmental editor will help you ensure consistency and deal with any plot holes or problems in your timeline or characterization. A line editor or proofreader is there to fix your grammar, syntax and typos. They may have views on how good your story is, but even if they are avid readers in your genre, that is not their job. A good editor will keep those views to themselves.
You could find yourself a critique partner. Many writers belong to creative writing groups, and these can be useful sources of feedback on your work, but if they don’t read in your genre, their opinions may be of limited value. And if they do write in your genre, think as well about their experience. What makes them qualified to offer their opinion? Are they successfully publishing in your field? Are they also Indies?
In reality, the only people qualified to decide if your story is any good are your readers. It is much better to ask for feedback from the people who are most likely to buy your book.
I would suggest joining groups/discussion boards run by readers in your genre. There are many groups like this on Goodreads and Facebook. If you are a fan of the genre you are writing in (and if not, why are you writing this at all?) then you are probably already a member of some of these groups. Reach out to their members and ask for volunteers to beta read for you.
Be honest, tell them you are a new author and that this is still a WIP (work in progress). Many will jump at the chance to help you craft your tale.
One word of caution, though, from your Indie Aunt, be careful not to worry too much about the views of one person. Everyone has their own opinions and can hold them quite forcefully, but they are only their opinions. If several people tell you the same thing, then you may have a problem with the story that needs to be addressed.
Remember, this is your story. Your world, your characters, your vision. Your baby. Writing is a bit like being a parent. You start out full of hope for this new life and over time you doubt you are doing anything right. The ultimate test of your success is to send that child out into the world.
So, finish your book, ask for feedback, edit and publish.
Indie Annie x