It’s taken me almost 6 months to write my non-fiction book. It’s around 50,000 words.
The bulk of it was written during Christmas break last year in Dec 2015 when I hammered out 20k words in 2 weeks.
But then I felt burnt out and got busy with work in the new year and didn’t write much for the following 3 months.
Then in March, I decided to commit to writing and publishing my book and wrote the remaining 25k words over the following 3 months.
Now that I have a completed manuscript, what happens next?
Congratulate yourself on getting to this milestone. Not a lot of people reach this stage of completing their first draft and an even tinier amount will progress on to the next stage of publishing and get the book out there.
2. Take a break from your book
Don’t look at your book or even think about it. You need a cooling off period from the intense activity of creation.
You have been immersed in your work and now you need to create some fresh space to view your work with a fresh pair of eyes.
Savour this time before self-doubt comes charging at you at the next stage when you will cringe at the words you wrote …and cringing is OK, it’s all part of the creative process!
3. Do the First Self-edit
After taking a break, both mentally and emotionally from the book, attempt to skim read the book in one go.
At this stage, you want to focus on the flow, narrative and content. Don’t judge or criticise your work. Instead, ask questions like:
- Does each chapter answer the question it opens up with up?
- Are you addressing the right content?
- Are there any gaping holes in the narrative?
- Are there any research gaps you need to fill in?
4. Take another break
Then take a break again from the manuscript for a few days. This will allow your subconscious to digest the work and let it also work out any issues.
There is a good chance at this stage you will be cringing in pain when you read your work. You may be thinking ‘why did I write that’ or ‘how could I write that, it makes no sense!’.
Know this is perfectly normal. This is part of the editing process.
5. Then re-edit
Go through the book a few more times, checking for spelling grammar and filling in any holes in content and narrative.
6. Stop and ship your book
Once you are able to read your book in one complete go without any major red herrings, it’s time to ship it off to an editor. I suggest you spend only 2-3 weeks on self-editing because it can get easy to get caught up wanting to perfect your manuscript.
You may feel embarrassed to let anyone see it. I certainly felt like that. And looking back I realised I had been editing my book for more than 6 weeks till someone mentioned I may have perfectionist tendencies.
That was a shocker because I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist and actively try not to chase perfectionism (as it’s a losing game).
But fear had gotten the best of me. I hid behind the screen for weeks on end, spell checking and grammar checking in an attempt to not hand over to an editor.
Why? Because there is always a fear when you showcase your work. There is a fear of being rejected or ridiculed.
But this is what it means to face the fear and do it anyway! You need to get your work out there, you need to ship it.
And remember, an editor’s sole job is to make your book better. They are professionals who throw spotlights on the weaker parts so that you can make it stronger. So that your narrative flows better. So that your book is the best it can be. And that can only be a good thing, right?
…My Book Update
So I can say I have finally found an editor and shipped my manuscript off to them. It takes confidence to create something from your soul, to have it analysed and critiqued by someone else. But this is the only way to get through the fear, to take it one step at a time.
The beginning of the editing phase also marks the next stage in the overall writing process which indicates I am a step closer to getting my book published. And not many people can say the same.
What are you working on? Are you shipping your product and getting it out into the world? Or are you holding back your creative work due to perfectionism?