When to Stop Revising

5:43 PM Posted by Lori Calabrese

Five Signs You've Done All You Can Do

You've done it. You've written a book. Your manuscript is complete; your story arc has touched down; you've reread it and revised it, and responded to comments from your critique group. But is it ready to send out? Shouldn't you go through it one more time, just to make sure?
Maybe not. Obviously, we want our submittals to be the best they can be, but I've seen more writers over-edit than under. We put off sending it out, and assure ourselves we're just being cautious. Often, though, this is a subconcious effort to avoid rejection. But how do you know?

Here are five tips to help you decide if you're being prudent or wimpy.

1) You've changed something back to an earlier version. If you drafted a revision, then decided two weeks later that it worked better in the original, chances are it's time to stop revising. You could go back and forth forever. Better to send it out and see what a professional makes of it than spin your wheels endlessly.

2) The revisions you're working on make the book 'different' but not necessarily 'better'. There are hundreds of little changes that would make our books 'different'. Sometimes, those are worthwhile or even well-advised. For example, if you have a book titled, "A Skewed Kind of Perfect", you might want to consider changing the name before submitting. But if you're making a lot of revisions that don't improve the manuscript, it's probably time to stop revising. If an editor or agent loves your book, they're certainly not going to reject it because your main character's name is Bob instead of Bill.

3) Your critique group opens your submittal and groans, "Ugh. Not this again." I usually submit something to my critique group once. If they suggest huge revisions to it, I might send it back for feedback on the changes, but that's rare. I never, ever send anything three times. My feeling is, once my crit partners have signed off on it, it's pretty darn close to editor-ready.

4) Your heart isn't in it. Remember the first-draft days when you couldn't wait to get the kids off to school? You raced to your computer, opened your word doc and sighed with delight as you immersed yourself in the bright, new world you created. If you don't feel at least a smidgeon of the same love for your manuscript, it's time to move on to something new. Writers write because it's their passion. If the passion between you and your manuscript is gone, it's because you've turned it into a job instead of a love. Send it out and let someone else fall in love with it.

5) You can't figure out what else to do with it. This seems obvious. If you can't find anything else to fix, it must be ready. Right? Yet so many times, we writers fail to see this. It happens most often with the first book. We stare at the words; we make small changes (a la #2); but we just can't believe it's ready. Perhaps we're waiting for a sign from the Almighty. Send out your book now written in the clouds. Having written five-and-two-halves books, I can tell you that isn't going to happen. So if you can't figure out what to do next, the next step is probably to send it out. The first round of comments you get back will help you determine if there really is something you need to address, or if it just needs to find the right home. Either way, you're making forward progress.

Remember...one-hundred percent of shots not taken, don't score. Your book will never be published if it remains hidden on your hard drive. Take a chance. Send it out!
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes
blog comments powered by Disqus