You have the feeling of something inside of you ending, your fingers are still numb from the typing and you have a finished manuscript staring you in the face. After getting over that smug satisfaction of finally finishing a book (a feat that most “writers” never accomplish) you might start worrying about a bunch of things. More specifically, you might be wondering if it’s time to publish your book. Sure, you can publish it right now, but read this first if you really want to make the most out of your time.
I Just Finished
Please, oh please for all things holy in this world: DON’T PUBLISH NOW! I’ll guarantee you right now, we can even bet on it, you’ll hate some of the things in your book when you give it a good reading. You’re going to find grammatical errors, logical inconsistencies and sentences that can be modified. You’ll think of new ideas to add, hate some ideas and take them out and overall give a new face to the book.
DO NOT PUBLISH NOW!
Put the book away right now and don’t think about it. I don’t care if you have to completely stay away from your computer for the next few weeks to get it out of your mind, but you have to stay away from it.
Why? First of all, reading and editing the book right when you are finished is going to be difficult. You’ll feel too attached to your book. You’re also in the headspace of a writer, not a reader.
You have to be a reader to see if your book is any good. So, put the book away for a few weeks (months even) and don’t look at it.
Be the Reader and Editor
OK, so you’ve had some time to stop thinking about how much of a creative genius you are and you can be a reader. It’s time to go through your book. Read it from beginning to end. While there are many different editing styles, this is the best one overall.
Just read the book. Don’t make any major marks or changes. This will take you out of the book, which can hurt the reading experience. You can jot down notes later, but not while reading. Read the book and see if it’s any good. What are your overall impressions?
If the book is bad, then you have a hard decision to make. Should you do your best to fix the manuscript, take the best parts and apply them to a new project or just throw the whole thing away? Some of the best and brightest had to completely change their book.
Want an example? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was considered too intellectual initially for major publishing. It had to be almost completely reworked (about 30-50% of it was changed) before it was viable. The Master and Margarita went through four completely different drafts before it was finally published (there are really five drafts, but the last one happened in 1989, about 23 years after it was originally published). The first one was burned because Bulgakov saw no future as a writer in his country and the fourth was posthumous.
The fact is that sometimes books have to be completely changed before they are right. Don’t be afraid to make major changes if they are needed. Many have said that this is like killing your children because they are your thoughts and words, but you have to do it to make a stronger piece.
You read through and edited the book. If there were many problems, then you might want to give the book another read or two, which just makes sense. However, like most people, you probably now have some objections.
What if the book isn’t good enough? What if no one will like it?
After a while you just have to publish the book and get over the fear. Yes, people might hate it and there might be changes that can make to make the book stronger. But, at the same time, delaying the release unnecessarily for months or even years is even worse.
If you did all the proper work and know that your book is commercially viable, then it’s time to publish it. Stop creating objections and just do it.
It’s scary when a book is finished. Many writers don’t know what to do because their job goes from writing the book to publishing it, which is a mystery to many. At the same time, there is a direct path that you can take. Give yourself some time, read and edit the book, determine if it really is any good and then just publish it.