When’s a Manuscript Really Ready?

The thrill of the story. First draft.

Agonize over the revisions. 2nd, 3rd, 4th draft.

Send to beta readers. Gather info. Revise again.

Read and revise one more time then send to editor.

Editor returns a manuscript rife with red. Gulp hard and go after it. Major revisions, additions, subtractions.

Read through once more. Solid manuscript. Advanced reader copy (ARC) ready.

Send out ARC (both proof paperback copes and ebooks) to reviewers.

Acknowledge that release date is coming closer. Now 60 days away. Read proof once more.

Find annoying little mistakes like the time the team Lawmen was spelled Lawmem. Index finger slid a little bit too far to the right on the keypad. Brain, when reading that sentence for the 12th time, finally realizes that the ‘m’ is not an ‘n.’ How did it get by me twelve times, an editor once, and a bunch of my beta readers? That’s what mistakes do. They are stealth.

I think the mistakes have been found, but still the wording worries me. There are still unnecessary words. Keep cutting. Keep shortening.

There are still words that sound awkward. Smooth out. I can do better than that.

That sentence sounds lazy. Ahhhh, word repetition. I just used that word. Please, no. I have to change it.

Wait, tomorrow the publication date? Ahhhhh! It’s not ready.

Back to the original question. When’s a manuscript really ready? Never. In reality, it’s never ready. But like a boisterous little boy playing hide-and-seek at night, “Ready or not, here I come.”

The only question you have to answer is this: Did you do the very best you could with the resources available and the time given to you to accomplish it? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then release it into the wild and rest in the knowledge that you gave it your best. Is your best perfection? No. Will you be completely satisfied with it? No.

Do you move on to the next story anyways? Yes.

A DIAMOND FOR HER coming March 23. Ready or not.

Now what? Novel four in a waiting game.

This is an exciting time for any novelist – a second draft of my latest novel is complete and I am now sending it off to some trusted readers for feedback.

Exciting, yet scary.

No one else has even seen a word of this novel, and now about eight people will be receiving it, tasked with letting me have it: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Honestly, I have no idea what I’ve created. It makes sense in my mind, but as a prior post expounded, my mind can be somewhat uneven. Who knows what others will think about it?

Luckily, I have some really shrewd readers who have agreed to take it on. Many of them have extensive backgrounds in literature, so I feel confident they will be open and honest with me about what works and what doesn’t.

Then it’s up to me to not be defensive. To take in their criticism and look back at the manuscript to make the final determination of whether, in my opinion, their ideas need to be addressed. Probably, they do. Initial feedback is oftentimes the most helpful. It helps shape the final draft and helps ready it for the editor to once again pick it apart.

But it’s also at this point that I can start thinking about my next novel. What should it be? Actually, I have the first chapter of a different novel already written. I will take a good long look at it as it will most likely be my next one – set in a imagined tropical island in southeast Asia. Yeah, I know. Asia always calls me home.

So, thank you readers for taking my baby and giving me your honest feedback. It will allow me to move forward and try something new. But I know that in a couple months, I’ll be back at novel 4 one more time to get things ready for my editor.

I must admit that it’s awfully fun to be a writer. May the creative processes never cease! Here’s to four, five, and beyond!