How do you know when your manuscript is ready for (self)-publishing?


That is a good question, because as a self-published author, you don’t have a measuring stick like a traditionally published author has. If his work is accepted, he knows it’s pretty ready. As an indie writer, you need to decide that on your own. How do you know if the manuscript is good enough to be set in print, or if it’s still hovering near the bottom of your learning curve?

If you just started to write a year ago and now got the complete first draft done, think of it as a lump of clay that needs shaping. Rewrite, read the manuscript aloud, make corrections, let others read it, implement the changes you approve of. After all that, it might still only be fit to sit in your desk drawer. Forever.

I have four complete manuscripts in a filing cabinet. That time was not wasted. These are my practice novels that taught me how not to write a novel. I can recycle the characters and any scenes I wish to use in a future novel. Start over. Implement everything you learned so far about writing, character development, story arc, dialogue, show, don’t tell and so forth in a new book.

I am sure you don’t like to hear what I just said. But these are the steps even a traditionally published author has to go through before he can think about querying agents. If you have the patience, put the manuscript aside for awhile, read everything you can about bettering your craft, join a writers’ group, learn from others, and months or years later, look at that manuscript again. I can almost guarantee you will be relieved to call it your practice novel, instead of acting prematurely, turning away readers and ruining your name with a book that was nowhere near ready for print.

One day you will know in your heart that you’re working on a novel that will put you on the map, just like I felt about Immortal Link. After all the above mentioned steps, hire and pay a professional editor to put the final polishes on it. Query a couple agents just to be fair (ړײ), then go ahead and self-publish. Hit the submit button and never look back.

Self-publishing is a trend that was once used mainly by poets, memoir and short-story writers, but has now leveled the playing field for any serious writer. Agents and publishers can be slow in spotting and adapting trends. Well, e-publishing and indie publishing has made the decision for them. So long, Borders, right? And Barnes and Nobles is turning into a toy and game store. But there are still many beginning writers who go ahead and publish their very first work or everything they write without so much as proof reading, thereby giving self-publishing a bad name. Luckily for the diligent of us, cream rises to the top.

So, how do you know your manuscript is ready? You’ll never know for sure, or maybe years after it’s been printed. Or if it won a contest. Or if your readers tell you the manuscript is better than some of the traditionally published books they have read.

In the end, it’s a gut feeling.

For all the sexual abuse victims out there

I had just turned thirteen when a friend’s uncle made a move on me, and I was in such a state of shock that my period stopped for several months. All I could think about was revenge. I only encountered him a couple times in the years that followed, but every time I did, I, the victim, felt embarrassed and ran the
other way, while he, the attacker, smirked at me. At that age I went through a lot of changes, trying to find out who I was and what I responded to. I acted out, wore weird clothes, made bad choices, and scared my parents. Some of it could be blamed on puberty, some on the rage I felt about the molesting incident. I wanted to do terrible things to him, avenge myself, hurt him in any way possible or at least ruin his life some. I blamed the incident of that afternoon for everything that went wrong during my teenage years. But I was too ashamed to tell or act.

There are children who get raped over and over and have to live with this all their lives. Ten years ago, a mother told me about her daughter who was raped in her bedroom by one of her older brothers’ friends when she was eleven years old. The brothers promised their sister to take care of her and together they kept this
horrible secret from the mother to protect her from a breakdown. Finally, years later, they told her what happened.

In March 2010, this story about rape and sibling bond broke through my subconscious and within four months I wrote the whole first draft of “Immortal Link.” It was written for all sexual abuse victims out there who are incapacitated by shame and hate, and who are plotting revenge instead of concentrating on healing.

Catholine Kennan in this YA novel did the job for you. She felt the same way you feel, watched how PTSD destroyed her brothers’ lives, how the aftermath turned her from a blossoming beauty into a hideous scarecrow, and how she overcame it all by finally breaking through the barrier of shame, finding retribution in a most unexpected place. Catholine took a fulfilling, satisfying mega-revenge, so that you who are still suffering from the effects of rape or molestation can live it through her, share in her victory without putting yourselves in harm’s way, and can step on the road of healing.

After I innocently chose the town of Jim Thorpe, PA for the setting of “Immortal Link,” the story turned paranormal and surprised the heck out of me. Here is what happened… “Immortal Link” is available on and Kindle.

YA Paranormal Romance and Suspense Author Uta Burke

Fifteen-year-old Catholine Kennan will satisfy your craving for total revenge in this YA paranormal novel, which was written for victims of sexual abuse.

NY Agent Alexandra Machinist nailed it!

Ms. Machinist told me straight out in one of our “Meet the agent” workshops hosted by the Liberty States Fiction Writers that I write Boy Emotion.

When you read my YA novel “Immortal Link” and even my crazy (not for teens) book “The Wiener Diaries,” you notice it right away; boy emotion weaves liberally throughout the plot. As a matter of fact, boys who cry and let their feelings out makes the story more rewarding.

Why shouldn’t males cry, or be sentimental sometimes? Their lives suck just as much as the girls’. You don’t want to hang out with a rock. True, it can be awkward to have a boy break down and you don’t know what to do for him, so just put your arm around his shoulders and let him finish. If nothing else, he is giving you a glimpse into a usually buried realm that nevertheless exists.

When Catholine Kennan listens to her brother Charlie’s tearful confession under the staircase in the middle of the night, she distracts herself with a kitten so she wouldn’t just sit there wondering for both of them whether she should hug him or let him get it out without unnecessary interruption. What he tells her during that intimate moment is what my readers rave about in their fan mail. If I would have Charlie deliver his dilemma via a tough-guy rendition, the effect would be ruined. The key moment would lose its impact.

Same with ueberresponsible Louis who thinks he has to carry his and his siblings problems on his shoulders alone to spare their mother more upset after their father left. When his softer side finally breaks through, it makes him incredibly endearing.

And that’s what I get the fan letters for: The scene under the staircase, Louis’s breakdown, Charlie’s scare on top of the gorge. Oh my gosh, Mrs. Burke, I love Immortal Link. Please write more books! My youngest fan is 12 and doesn’t have a facebook account yet, so she emails me. The funny thing is, I get fan mail from the mothers as well: Couldn’t put your book down, devoured it from cover to cover, Charlie is my favorite, I loved Penny (I let you find out who Penny is), and just wait until you meet Stella…talk about a surprise. I’ve heard of people reading my book in jail, on a flight to China, in Germany, Ireland, and all over the U.S. One is a nun, the other an inmate, and they all rave about it.

But Charlie and Louis, who try to help their younger sister through the aftermath of a rape, are real, red-blooded young men who run the gamut of emotion.

And that’s why my stories dig deep.

You can find “Immortal Link – You hurt me, I’ll hurt you more” by Uta Burke on and Kindle

By the way, isn’t the name Alexandra Machinist so cool? It sounds like a musical or the heroine of a great book.