Sometimes, knowing when you're ready to publish is as hard as writing the manuscript. There are always final edits, and you could have a thousand final drafts. (FinalDraft.doc, ReallyFinalDraft.doc, ReallyReallyFinalDraft.doc, OkThisOneIsItFinalDraft.doc.) Sound familiar? Around here, it's our writers' favorite tune.
It's ok. We get it.
You've poured so much energy and love into your work and now you have to ship it off to a printer and send it out into the cold, cold world. You want to do everything you can to ensure its success.
Or, perhaps you're so sick of the darned thing you just want to be done with it. You're tempted to send it in. No. Matter. What.
So how do you know if you're truly ready to publish?
You never really know for sure. (Sorry--were you expecting to hear something else?) But we've got a few pointers to help you take the leap:
Reflect on your information-gathering. Did you skimp on the research or did you make sure you got your facts straight? If you did cut corners in any particular section, revisit it and make sure you give it the attention it deserves. But if you honestly did the best research you can, then leave it alone and move one.
Think about your writing process. Was there a section you rushed through? Did you get hung up anywhere? Revisit those spots and clean up the copy. But if you know for sure you were "on," then don't go back. Don't over edit.
Have you read over your finished manuscript? Put your editing pencil away, make a cup of tea, and read through your entire manuscript, just like a reader would. Could you get through it? What parts were a little rough? Once you've finished reading as an "outsider," only then you can pick up your editing pencil again.
Take your final draft (the one marked ReallyReallyThisOneIsItFinalDraft.doc) and test it. Give the manuscript to trusted readers and friends, asking for their bold, honest feedback. Promise them--and yourself--that you won't take any criticism personally. Better you hear about what needs work now than once your book is on the shelves. Let your publisher in on this part of the process, too. They'll be honest because they want to sell your book as much as you do.
You don't have to incorporate ALL the feedback from your test readers. Even with killer best sellers, there are widely different opinions from readers. Some hate it. Others memorize the pages. Remember that opinions are personal. But do check and see if the same feedback keeps popping up across several of your test readers. Give it the attention it requires.
Ask yourself if you feel ready. Have you done everything you can to write the best book you know how to write? If you answer yes, then you are ready. It's time to let go and send your book into the world. It's time to tell your story.
The biggest mistake we see our new authors make is to over-edit. They tweak one word and then another and then another and then...weeks go by with no manuscript to print. To make matters worse, the overly ambitious author-editors tend to do all the reading and editing alone. They don't get feedback from family, friends, and trusted readers. So in the end, they don't know if they're any better off than they were in the beginning. They. Never. Feel. Ready. Don't let this be you.
How do you know you're ready to publish? When you've honestly done all you can to research, write, and edit your manuscript--or when your publisher says you are!
Submit your manuscript and we'll help you determine if you're really, honest-to-God, for-sure ready to publish draft #1,032.
So tell us, how do YOU know when you're ready? Do you have any special manuscript submission rituals? Who do you trust the most to read your manuscript before sending it to press?