Yesterday, we discussed the importance of “keeping on,” of writing until you’re finished.
But how do you know when you’re done? How do you know when your book is ready to be released from your possessive grip and given to the literary winds?
After the rough draft, there are always revisions. Spellings to correct, typos to fix. And then, you can get some beta readers to give you feedback on your work, which leads to more plot tweakings, perhaps.
So how do you know when you’re ready to publish (whether by looking for an agent or going indie)?
Give yourself some distance. Take some time off from your novel to work on some other project, or to read a few books. Let your mind “reset” so it can come back to your novel with fresh eyes.
Write the sequel. If you know the work is going to be part of a series, start working on the next book to make sure you didn’t write yourself into a corner. Is the romance still working out in book two? Do you need to alter one of the character’s backstories so he or she can handle a particular challenge that is integral to book two? Is a character afraid of the wrong things? If you need a big battle with a giant spider in book one, and you established that the main character faints at the sight of spiders, you may have to go back and change something to ensure your series makes sense.
Get professional feedback. Have a free lance editor or book coach look it over and give you advice about how the story struck them. Beta readers may not have the professional insights of those who read stories critical, week after week, and someone who specializes in your genre can help steer you away from trouble spots, giving you genre-specific advice about things like description, plot, and pacing.
Trust yourself. Ultimately, it’s your story. Once you feel confident it says what you want it to say, go ahead and publish it. Seek out an agent or independently distribute it, and let your confidence in what you’ve written shine!
(Note: For those interested in Book Coaching, Ryan Lanz and I are doing a joint contest over at A Writer’s Path for some free Book Coaching prizes.)
Copyright 2016 Andrea Lundgren
Photo by kakisky, Creative Commons
6 thoughts on “Letting Go: How Do You Know You’re Ready to Publish? #atozchallenge, #writer”
It’s always difficult to really figure out when you’re ‘ready,’ sometimes you just have to send it out into the world when it feels that way and see what happens. It’s scary and thrilling at the same time!
It is, and sometimes the very act of sending it out, especially that first time, can teach you a great deal about how to gauge if something is ready the next time.
Very good points all around, Andrea — we need distance, trust, feedback … Each time I let a piece — book or short story– go, I was never fully ready. In some instances, I still wasn’t ready after I saw it in print. 🙂 Writers and their doubts … will never be separated, will they?
I don’t think so. There is a time when our work in progress is ready to be published, but I’m not sure there’s a time when the author is truly ready for the publishing. 🙂
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There’s also a good case to be made for trying to make a book too ready. Sometimes a book will be in very polished shape, but then a late-coming critiquer, beta reader, etc., will declare, e.g., s/he doesn’t like things everyone else loved. We have to trust we’ve gotten a book as good as we can get it, even if certain readers might not like it.
Absolutely! We cannot write to please everyone (but if we only please ourselves, it does raise questions about its worthiness to be published–I think it’s a balancing thing).