These days anyone can write a book. The rapid growth of self-publishing means that seeing your book in print is no longer dependent on months, or years, of waiting for a publisher or agent to make you an offer. The publishing process can happen a lot more quickly but that doesn’t mean that it should be rushed into.
If you have invested time and effort in your manuscript and it is the best it can be, faster publication can only be a good thing. However, many new writers seem to believe that they can not only write a great novel, but do it at speed.
The rise of NaNoWriMo and writing boot camps have inspired many would-be writers to churn out a novel as quickly as possible but the point of these events is not to pen a perfect book in the shortest possible time, but to rough out the basics of a story that can be moulded into something worth reading. This takes persistence and effort.
Editing is not just for editors. All successful writers make several revisions of their manuscripts and edit their own work many times before they even think about publishing. Authors will then hand over to professional editors and proofreaders to help them to perfect and polish their books. Best-sellers take time in the making; they do not tumble print-ready from brain to page.
I am always happy to help authors with revisions and to advise them on ways to improve their writing but many novice writers have unrealistic expectations of how long it takes to turn rough copy into a book of publishable standard. The best books are revised many times to eradicate inconsistencies, ineffectual characters, boring plotlines, loopholes and cliché-ridden, stodgy writing. Not to mention correcting spelling and grammar, of course!
Stick with it. Develop your storylines and make sure that everything has a satisfactory resolution including any backstories. If you are writing non-fiction, check your facts and re-check them across a variety of sources. If something is not working, don’t be afraid to try a different approach. Delete scenes and add new ones where necessary. Keep copies of all your versions as you edit and continue to revise until you know that you have done as much as you can.
Then give your book to other people to read (beta readers) and be guided by their advice. Are your characters believable? Are there any passages that are confusing or just don’t work? Is everything successfully concluded at the end of the book? Take note of any comments and, if necessary, revise again.
Take your time. Writing is not a race (unless you are a deadline driven news journalist). Achieving good results requires staying power and endurance but for those who are prepared to put in the extra effort, the rewards will be far greater.
Readers don’t take long to make up their minds about an author, so make sure that you don’t put them off by rushing to publish your book before it is ready.