19 Oct 110. How to Know When You’re Finished Writing Your Book
Picture it. You’ve been writing away for months.
(Even if you’ve just started writing your book, imagine this moment.)
You feel like you’re done writing, but . . . you also feel like you could possibly make your manuscript even better.
What should you do? What should you do?!
In this episode, you’ll discover 6 ways to know when you’re actually done writing and ready to send that manuscript off to the editor.
Mentioned in This Episode
Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your Book Coach Candice L. Davis. I hope your week and your writing are both going really well.
As for me, I am still riding on a conference high—and I don’t come home from every conference on a conference high, y’all.
It may seem like that if you listen to some of my previous episodes, I’ve said it once or twice.
But usually it’s the same people presenting those conferences that leave me in this state of inspiration and motivation and action-taking.
That’s the most important thing for me.
When I go to this kind of business conference, I want to come home feeling ready to take action.
And last weekend I attended Confidence Activated, hosted by my friend, my book coaching client, and one of my favorite business coaches who has really helped me grow my business.
Rachel Luna, if you don’t know Rachel, follow her on Instagram @girlconfident, I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you are a writer.
If you are a woman, if you are a business owner, if you are a human being functioning in the world and trying to really grow into your best self, I think you will love what Rachel has to offer.
Confidence Activated was filled with mostly faith-driven women and a few good men.
But there were people from all different faiths, it was not relegated to one faith.
And there were people with different opinions.
And it’s a fairly diverse community.
And I walked away from those speakers—I didn’t take a lot of notes, I didn’t take pages and pages of notes—but from each speaker, I had an action item I could apply to grow myself or to grow my business.
And for me, that’s the sign of a fantastic event. I wasn’t just motivated, I had some work to do that I was excited about doing.
On Saturday night, even more exciting for me, Rachel actually did a soft launch for the pre-order of her new book Permission to Offend being published by HarperCollins—I believe the imprint is Harper 1—it comes out on February 7, 2023.
And Permission to Offend is the kind of book that if you read it and actually apply what you read, you will be a different person on the other end.
You will be a different version of yourself one that I think you’ll be really proud to step into.
Permission to Offend is all about being true to your authentic self instead of people-pleasing, instead of worrying about what everyone else thinks and really getting inside your own head and knowing what you want and going after it.
She may actually be giving bonuses for that—if you want to know if she is, look at her Instagram @girlconfident, I cannot recommend this book enough.
I’ve read it over several times while we were coaching, while I was coaching her through the writing process.
I haven’t read this very final version yet, but I’m super excited to get it in my hands.
So at the conference, there were also many people—so many—who had already written books, and some who were in the process of writing their first or second book.
And during the q&a session one woman came to the microphone and asked Rachel, what I thought was a very pertinent question.
How do you know when you finish writing your book?
How do you know?
How do you know when it’s time to say, type those words, “the end” at the end—not literally y’all—and just be done.
Call it a wrap on your manuscript, and get it ready to go over to your copy editor.
Well, I’m going to give you six ways that you can know that you’ve reached that point.
The first way is that you have followed your outline.
And you have said everything you needed to say.
Now, if you don’t have an outline, it’s easy to think you’ve said it all and then later realize that you did not include certain content that was really important.
But if you have developed a solid outline, you followed that puppy, changed it when it needed to be changed, and you have said everything you needed to say, that’s a sign that you’re close to being ready to send it on over to the editor.
The second sign though, is that you have revised that manuscript to the best of your ability.
So it’s not enough for it just to be done—beginning, middle, end, that’s great—but you now have to do your revisions.
If you leave it up to the editor to do all the revisions, and you just send them a rough draft well, one, you’re not going to get the best work out of that editor because the stronger your manuscript is, the more they can really hone it and polish it and bring it up to a higher level of professional publishability.
But also, the book is probably going to sound less like you if you send over a rough draft and just leave it up to the editor to fix it.
The editor is not you.
And in all likelihood, they don’t know your writing voice very well.
And so they’re taking something rough and just trying to make it readable.
Revise it to the best of your ability.
No one expects you to be an editor.
No one expects you to be a Pulitzer Prize winning writer.
Just give it your best effort.
At the very least, my friend, you can run spellcheck and accept or reject the spellcheck suggestions.
So that’s the second way: you have revised your manuscript to the best of your ability.
The third way to know that you’re about ready to send that manuscript off to the editor is that you have read it all out loud.
Now, that can be overwhelming if you’ve written a really long book.
And in some cases, you might just want to read different parts out loud—parts that you have more concern about and want to really make sure they’re smooth and they flow well.
But reading out loud is going to give you a very different experience of your book than reading it silently from the page.
Pretty much every book that I write, I read out loud.
I generally write a chapter and revise it once or twice before I move on to the next chapter.
I encourage my coaching clients not to get caught up in revising one chapter over and over and over and never moving forward.
You definitely want to move forward, but I do revise a couple of times.
And one of those times is a read aloud revision pass for me.
Here’s the good thing though.
Reading out loud can be exhausting—not gonna lie, it can be—but we have technology on our side now.
Microsoft Word under the review tab has a little thing called “read aloud,” click that button, and it will read your whole manuscript aloud to you.
I don’t think you can alter the voices, but you can alter the speed.
And you will notice things when you hear your manuscript being read aloud by yourself or someone else that you would not see when you’re just reading it.
So if you’ve read it out loud, and you’ve made changes based on what you heard, or places where the flow wasn’t quite as good—where you had ultra-long run-on sentences, where maybe you dropped a word—you fix those things.
You’re about ready to send it off, you’re about done.
The fourth sign that you’re ready to be done with your manuscript is that you’ve gotten feedback.
Maybe you’ve gotten that feedback from your beta readers, or from your book coach, or from your workshop or from your writing teacher.
I talk a lot about beta readers in episode 31 so I won’t go too deeply into that here, but essentially it’s a small group of people who you ask as a favor to you, not a paid position, to read your manuscript. Not for editing, but just to give you overall feedback.
And typically, you’ll give them a list of questions you want them to answer.
Or maybe you might say, “pay particular attention to chapter seven and let me know if the story makes sense.” The things that you’re looking for.
And then you’ve received that feedback from those beta readers, or from your book coach, or from the people in your workshop, or even all three—people in your writing community.
And you have made your decisions, using your best judgment, about what feedback to implement, and what to ignore.
If you’ve gone through that process, you are probably pretty darn close, ready to send it off to your editor.
The fifth sign that you are ready to be done with your manuscript is that you are 90% satisfied, and probably sick of reading your own manuscript.
Listen, when you are revising, you’re reading your same words over and over.
Like upwards of ten times before you send it to your copy editor.
You’re gonna get tired of reading your own words.
They’re lovely words, your story’s great, your wisdom is on the page.
If you reach that point, you may not even be able to see your own mistakes anymore.
So it may be time to send it on to the editor.
You’re never going to be 100% satisfied, unless you decide to be, right?
You can just decide, I’m going to be 100% satisfied.
But if you can even reach 90% satisfied, it’s time for that manuscript to be done.
And the last sign that you are done writing your book, you’re finished writing that thing, is that your deadline is upon you.
Now, if you have a traditional book deal, your publisher has put deadlines in place throughout your writing process.
There was a time when you’re supposed to get a draft in.
There’s a time when you’re supposed to get another draft in, and so forth, right?
Those deadlines, sure, they might be a little bit negotiable, but your publisher has a schedule for their whole catalog that’s coming up.
So you can’t throw off that schedule—you can only throw it off so much before it becomes a real problem and you don’t want to be the problem client.
So if you have a traditional book deal, you’re meeting those deadlines, but even if you’re self-publishing, you may have set a launch deadline.
You may have set a pre launch deadline.
Those things are fully within your control and if you feel like you need to adjust them, definitely adjust them if the book just really isn’t ready.
But if your deadline is upon you and you’re still nitpicking over commas, you might want to give that to the editor and let them do the nitpicking for you.
So that’s how you know when you finished writing your book.
You have followed your outline, and you have said everything you needed to say.
You have revised this manuscript to the best of your ability.
You’ve read that puppy out loud or had the computer read it out loud to you—or at least parts of it, so you know the flow.
You’ve gotten crucial feedback—it’s so important, yeah, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have another set of eyes look at your book.
BETA readers are people who are in your book market, they represent your One Perfect Reader.
Your book coach is an expert who does this for a living and can help you really make your book the best it can be.
Your colleagues and your writing community or your writing workshop are on the same journey you’re on and they’re going to want to help you make your book the best it can be as well and there’s a great likelihood that they are readers.
You’re pretty darn satisfied and probably sick of reading your own manuscript.
Your deadline may be upon you.
If you reach those points, put a bow on it, my friends, call it done.
I’m really glad that I had the chance to attend Confidence Activated last weekend and meet so many authors.
I bought a couple of books and met so many aspiring authors.
And I’m hoping every single one of those people who were there and talking about writing their books will actually take the action and do it.
Those who are in process will see it across the finish line and I hope you will too. Your readers are waiting for your book.
That’s all for this week’s episode, my friends. Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m your book coach Candace L. Davis, and I’ll see you next time.