When is it Time to Smash a Bottle of Champagne?

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When is it time to celebrate?

You’ve written your novel, had it critiqued and edited. You sent it to ten beta readers. Five called or emailed you to tell you that they loved the book. A few had suggestions on how to make the story better, but overall, you went for the final edits and sent it off to a professional formatter feeling really good. You’re going to self-publish this book. Soon.

But a week later, you get a call from one last respectful beta reader and writer, someone who knows how to make your book better. She sends you her remarks, her edits, and you spend all day reading them, applying them to a cleaner, tighter story.

An hour later, the formatter sends you an email. Your book has been formatted. You’re ready to go, ready to load it at Amazon.

But wait. You need to change a few things.

Why? Did the new words change the story?

No, but they made the dialogue zippier, the prose more orderly.

What should you do?

My friend, Linda Bonney Olin said this,

“Your book is a maiden voyage, a shakedown cruise. Yes, you want anything with your name on it to be as good as you can make it, but once it is launched it’s counterproductive to rework it ad infinitum. So smash that bottle of champagne and shove off! Apply the lessons you learn from reviews to your future work.”

There will always be something you want to change in your novel. But on the day it goes to press you must tell yourself you’ve written the best story you knew how to write at that point in your career.

Will your writing improve? Yes, if you work at it.

Will you tell the story differently ten years from now? Of course. So will I.

Would you have told the story differently fifteen years ago? Of course.

Take Linda’s advice and if you’ve launched your book, smash open the champagne and shove off. Move on to your next piece of art and take what you’ve learned and apply it to your new story.

When do you bring out the champagne?

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  1. Ha! Now ask me if I take my own advice! 🙂

    One of the mixed blessings of being a DIY (do-it-yourself) self-publisher is the ability to revise anything in my books at any time without having to send them back to a paid formatter. I just revise, reformat, and re-upload.

    But obsessing over every possible after-the-fact improvement to Book One sucks time and energy away from creating Books Two and Three, etc. Putting those additional books on your cyber-shelf will probably benefit your momentum more than going back and reworking Book One.

  2. So true. I think writers would polish and tweak until there was nothing left sometimes. lol

  3. Monica C. says:

    I think this is true, mostly, unless you are notified by reviewers or readers sometime later of a glaring typo, copy error, or formatting error. Then I think you should edit and re-upload a version without errors.

    Otherwise… I completely agree with this. At some point, you have to move on to the next story. It’s so hard, though!

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