Most people who read books have no idea of the lengthy discussions held about the tiniest little details. Do you capitalize the L for emphasis or will the reader think it’s a typo? That comma—is it in or out? Is it two sentences or one? Each of these questions can take several minutes to a good half hour to discuss.
I kid you not. By the time the final edits are done, you are ready to scream and pull your hair out but you don’t because you care so deeply about your manuscript, instead, you take a deep breath, sit down with a bowl of ice cream (because by this point you need it), and take one more look before sending it to the printer.
With all these tiny and seemingly miniscule edits one after another, how do you know when your book is done and ready to send? When do you leave well-enough alone and click the “submit” button?
As you sit there agonizing over your “last” manuscript, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I wanting to finish because I’m impatient or is it because the book is ready to go to the printers? If it’s because you’re impatient, you need to keep at it. It’s better to publish a couple of high quality books than many books of low quality.
- Are my corrections simply changing the same commas I’ve taken out or put in before? Then it’s time to let it go.
- Can I make a list of things to fix? If you can, you need to fix them first before calling your book done.
- Is it my best work? The book won’t ever be perfect but am I proud of it? If you know the manuscript you hold in your hands is your very best work, then send it to the printer.
- Have I given the book everything I thought I had inside me and then some? Have I taken it farther than I thought I could? Writing and editing well takes a lot of energy, more than an author thinks they have.
- Have other people read the manuscript and have I incorporated their feedback? This is a very important step and not one to be skipped.
- Have the edits become choices where it’s good either way? When it gets to this point, the manuscript is ready to go to the printer.
I know it can be exhausting to keep working a manuscript over until it’s just right. By the time you’re done, you just about have your words memorized and are ready to hurl them out the window. Still, by taking time with your manuscript and adjusting all those small tweaks making your words that much better, you’ll have a book to be proud of when you at last click “submit.”