How do you know when your book is finished and ready to leave the nest?
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"I guess I never really know; if I could look at a manuscript every day for the next century, each day I'd find some flaw to buff, some new idea to wedge in there, but there comes a point when I have to trust that I've tied up all the loose ends and created a strong story. It will take several rounds of back-and-forth revisions with my editor and then my copyeditor before it's ready to leave the nest. I know I'm "done" done when it's all copyedited, at which point I tell myself to stop looking at the manuscript as a work-in-progress." - Lauren Destefano, author ofWither.
"I don't think it ever is. The truth is, I'd still be working on Deathday if I could. It's out there now and I haven't read it since I finished my copy edits because I'm afraid that I'll want to continue to change it. And that's not saying that I'm not happy with it, but each book you write is imbued with what you were feeling or going through at that particular time. Also, I hope that I'm a better writer now, that I've learned a few things since writing Deathday. But there does come a time when you have to let it go, and for me that usually happens when I catch myself rearranging sentences obsessively." - Shaun David Hutchinson, author ofThe Deathday Letter.
"When my editor tells me it's ready :)" - Andrea Cremer, author ofNightshade.
"Honestly? I don't! If I didn't have a deadline, I'd probably whittle away at it forever. It takes a certain leap of faith to send your book out into the world, and like most leaps of faith, sometimes it begins with a shove." - Robin Benway, author ofThe Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June.
"When I can’t stand to look at it a moment longer. :)" - Jackie Kessler, author ofRage.
"Ugh, this is a hard question. The easy answer is, when the deadline is up. (Grins). I am one of those people who could endlessly revise. But I guess I would have to say I know it's ready when it feels solid to me, like it is accomplishing what I want it to, in the best way I can manage, and when I read it over, it feels like some kind of art. :)" - Cynthia Hand, author ofUnearthly.
"When my editor takes it away from me. In my personal copy of Under My Skin – I have jotted notes in the margins and scratched out words just in case a new edition is ever produced." - Judith Graves, author ofUnder My Skin.
"My books are never finished, merely abandoned. Once you get that book deal (and you will!), you’ll discover a whole new level of “finished,” and your editor will help you decide when it’s time to abandon it to copyediting." - Rae Carson, author ofThe Girl of Fire and Thorns.
"I used to be a proofreader, so when I have no idea what to change anymore, I do a final round of nitpicking and then send it. Usually this requires a pep talk that goes something like this: 'Just send it. Send it. Send it send it send it! Now!' *click*" - Veronica Roth, author ofDivergent.
"When I have no idea where to go next. I am so grateful that my agent - Holly Root - is an editorial agent. She's even talked me through plot points when I've gotten hung up. Love her." - Myra McEntire, author ofHourglass.
"Oh, it NEVER feels ready. It will never BE ready. If you let me, I'd rewrite HEX HALL right now! (WHY do people keep running their hands through their hair?! WHO DOES THAT HONESTLY?) But, as a friend of mine likes to say, if you keep polishing the apple, eventually, the skin will come off, and then the fruit itself will be all funkified and gross, and it won't even LOOK like an apple anymore. In other words, you just have to let go. I usually reach that stage when I'm so sick of the book that the thought of opening the file again makes me want to die. ;)" - Rachel Hawkins, author ofDemonglass.
"I never think my books are ready. I never think they’re good enough. This is one of the many ways that my friends and beta readers and agent and editor come in handy: when they threaten to physically take the manuscript away so I can’t fiddle with it anymore, I just have to let it go." - Michelle Hodkin, author ofThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
"After I've revised it several times myself and it's spent some time in a drawer. I used to want to rush everything off to my agent and editor, but I've realized that a week or so of drawer time is really essential, so I can see the MS with fresh eyes for one final revision before it goes off to anyone. It's worth the wait." - Sarah Darer Littman, author ofLife, After.
"I'm usually working under deadline, so I send it off way before I think it's perfect. Thank goodness for editors; if it weren't for them, I'd never get anything finished." - Mitali Perkins, author ofBamboo People.
"When my editor sends it to copyediting. Otherwise, I could tweak it forever." - Dia Reeves, author ofSlice of Cherry.
"I’m not saying this is right, or the way anyone else looks at it, but for me a book leaves the nest when I liked it at one point but now can’t stand to look at it anymore. That’s when I feel it’s 'done.'" - Emily Wing Smith, author ofThe Way He Lived.
"I don’t always.I’m sure there are times I’ve jumped the gun.And then my agent (very patiently) sends it back to me with revision notes.Once she says it’s ready, then it’s ready." - Kimberly Derting, author of Desires of the Dead.
"Ah, this is a problem of mine! Basically, my books are finished and ready to leave the nest the moment that my editor says 'Enough!' and pries the manuscript (figuratively speaking) out of my hot little hands! I could continue revising a book until the cows come home. There's really no end to it--and even when a book is 'finished' and typeset and going to press, I still find things that I wish I could change/improve." - Kristi Cook, author ofHaven.