One of my author-mentors is a brilliant fiction writer. She takes ten years to write each book. Seriously. In the last twenty years, she has written two brilliant novels. She writes books that win awards, get excellent reviews, and move readers. Each word on the page is there because she chose it. But as beautiful as her work is, not many of us can afford to (or want to) spend a decade crafting perfection.
At the other end of the spectrum are the newbie authors who publish work they’ve written in a mad dash, often over the course of a few weeks or a even a short weekend. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing fast, but these authors never look back at the work. They’re high-achievers. Accustomed to setting and reaching goals and never missing deadlines, they just want to reach “The End” and get the published book in their hands.
Believe me. You don’t need ten years to write a book that captures your expertise, tells your personal story, or shares your philosophy. But rushing to finish a book shortchanges the author and the reader.
The author hasn’t taken the time to clean up the writing to make it flow. The book is filled with fluff or confusing gaps. Let’s not even talk about typo-riddled books. Readers end up ticked off that they paid fifteen bucks for a book they have to struggle through.
Just as bad, the author shortchanges herself when she rushes her book to print. The content may or may not be good, but readers question her commitment to quality, her knowledge of publishing, or even her competence in her field.
If she’s good at marketing, she may start off with great book sales, but sooner or later, reviews start to come in from people other than her most loyal fans. After that, sales tend to nose dive. Or worse, sales continue, but readers talk among themselves about how unprofessional the author’s work is. Her reputation is tarnished, and she doesn’t even know people are saying her book was, well, crappy. All that work for nothing.
Finishing your first draft within a fairly short period of time can be the best choice for new writers. Momentum powers you forward. Moving fast leaves you little time to question whether or not you should be writing about something else. Without all the stops and starts, you’re more likely to finish your book.
But remember that whatever you write in that first dash is just the first draft. Don’t rush it off to a publisher. Take the time to raise your writing to a professional level with the following steps.
6 Proven Steps to Avoid Writing a Bad Book
- When you finish the first draft, put the manuscript aside for a week or two.
- Come back to your draft and read it page by page, making notes on what you can improve.
- Make the necessary changes.
- Send your revised draft to beta readers in your target audience.
- Take a deep breath, and make changes based on feedback from your trusted beta readers.
- Work with a skillful editor to make your book the best it can be.
Yes, these steps will add a few weeks to your writing process, but you’ll have a much better chance of writing a book you can be proud of and happily call your own.
It’s great to set deadlines and to hold yourself accountable to them. But not at the cost of failing to write the best book you can reasonably write.
Take the time to write a book that will represent you well.
GET IT DONE: Right now, make a list of 3 to 5 people in your target audience who you can ask to be beta readers for your book.
Go write something!