By Kathleen Y’Barbo-Turner @KathleenYBarbo
As the author of more than 100 books, I often get asked how I manage to write all those books. My answer? One book at a time! I know, but it’s true.
I also get asked for my secret to how I manage to reach THE END and press SEND time after time. Please understand I am not suggesting if you’re considering publishing as an indie author that you do not need a professional editor. Trust me on this. You’ll never catch everything yourself. But if you’re looking to finish a book and get it to an editor, either with the goal of finding a slot on a traditional publisher’s roster or releasing your book yourself, you first need to FINISH THAT BOOK.
And yes, I put that in all caps for a reason. You cannot present an unfinished book to a reader, now can you? Exactly. So your goal is to finish it and let it go, either to an agent or to an editor. Got it?Can’t seem to finish a book? Here’s how! @KathleenYBarbo #writing #ChristianFiction Click To Tweet
Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, here’s how I get to the end of my books and press send:
Know what you have. Print out the manuscript and do a complete read-through in hard copy. Aloud. Yes. Read your manuscript to yourself. I know. You may think you’ll look like an idiot. Who cares? This is how you will know what’s there. It’s fine to take notes as you read. I encourage it, actually, but don’t stop to re-write. Just read. Safe the edits for later.
Know what you have to do. Maybe it’s as simple as finishing the book. Or as complicated. Maybe you’re finished with your novel but through the previous exercise you’ve found some things that need work. Great! That’s your next project, then. Whether you’re writing or editing, I want you to stop right now and decide exactly what needs doing. And write it down. Yes, like a goal. A real goal. Because once you’ve identified what you have to do, you must then figure out exactly how you’re going to do it.
Know how to reach your goal. You’ve read the manuscript and identified what needs to be done. Now you need to implement a concrete course of action to reach your goal. Need to finish the book What’s your word count goal? How many words can you comfortably write in a day? Or, maybe you need to look at a weekly goal. Maybe you work better by looking at your book in chapters. The important thing is to reach a number and to look critically at the time you’ve allowed for writing. Underestimate the amount of hours in a week that you can devote to writing. That way you’ll be ahead if you do better than what you’ve projected.
Know when to stop. There are authors out there who do not know when to stop working on their completed manuscript. I am not suggesting that you turn out a substandard product, but at some point, you just have to let it go. Guess what? It’s never going to be perfect. Ask any published author if he or she wouldn’t jump at the chance to tweak their books that are already in print. And these are novels that have been through multiple edits. So, understand that you’ve done your best and let it go. Or perhaps your problem isn’t perfectionism. Maybe your real issue is fear. Fear of rejection. Or maybe fear of success. Did I hit a nerve? If so, ask yourself: what am I afraid of? What’s the opposition that’s keeping me from moving forward?
Know what to do next. Yes, next. You’re finished with the book. You’ve done the work of editing, and now you’re placing your manuscript in the hands of an editor or agent. Great! Now what? Write! That’s what you do next.
Kathleen Y’Barbo-Turner is a Publishers Weekly and ECPA Bestselling author of more than 100 books with over two million copies in print. A tenth-generation Texan and paralegal, Kathleen and her husband are parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and three adorable Londoners. Find her at www.kathleenybarbo.com.