You're writing, you're coasting, and you're thinking, 'This is the best thing I've ever written, and it's coming so easily, and these characters are so great.' You put it aside for whatever reason, and you open it up a week later and the characters have turned to cardboard and the book has completely fallen apart. That's the moment of truth for every writer: Can I go on from here and make this book into something? I think it separates the writers from the nonwriters. And I think it's the reason a lot of people have that unfinished manuscript around the house, that albatross.
― Jacqueline Woodson
Don’t you hate when that happens? It starts out being the best story you’ve ever written, but eventually off come the rose coloured glasses and it’s not quite as great as you thought it was. In fact, it needs a lot of work. That’s where revision and editing come in.
And to me, that’s what really separates the writers from the non-writers - the willingness to revise and edit. Nowadays it’s so easy to self publish a book that literally anyone can do it. But should they? Definitely not!
Like most avid readers, I have an e-reader. In the beginning you just had to slap a FREE sticker on an e-book and I’d download it, but once I hit the 1,000 mark I became slightly more discriminating. I joined Book Bub and Amazon sends me a daily email offering several books for free or sale prices. Which is why I’m now at over 1700 unread electronic books.
Tree books are guaranteed to be professionally done. They’ve been edited (and revised and edited some more) and formatted and printed via a traditional publisher. With e-books there’s no such guarantee. It’s so easy to self publish these days that many eager new writers (and a few that have been around long enough they should know better) jump the gun and publish the book before it’s ready. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve had to delete from my Kindle because what starts out as a promising story gets bogged down with poor formatting, lack of editing, and sloppy writing.
It’s not enough to finish that manuscript, writing is the easy part. It’s the revising and editing and polishing that is the real work. If you think you’re done after one draft, you’re seriously kidding yourself. I don’t care what your great Aunt Gertrude says. You need to set it aside and then revise and edit until that book is polished until it shines.
And after setting it aside for a couple of weeks you realize maybe this book doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, there’s no shame in having an albatross or two on your hard drive. They don’t take up a lot of space, and maybe someday you’ll figure out a way to fix it. Or maybe you know how to fix it, and yeah, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run both in terms of sales and readership.
Just please, don’t let that albatross fly before it’s ready.