I never finish a book. Really. On my desk right now is the draft I’m working on, a revision for a three-year-old book for e-publication, the edited version of a book I just sold, and page proofs on the next release. At what stage can I say “I finished my book!” (cover image of Merely Magic which started out in print, got edited and sold as an ebook, and is now back as trade paperback, which requires more promotion–a topic for another day if one doesn’t consider promo part of finishing a book.)
It’s reached the point where I can’t read the final printed product because I would still want to change things, and it would frustrate me no end that I couldn’t. Which means once I have the rights back to a book, I start whacking it to pieces before I put it out as backlist e-book. Honest, I know so much more now than I did when my books first appeared, so as far as I can see, as long as I’m learning, a book is never done.
I apparently have a control freak hiding in my brainpan somewhere. Don’t know where the gremlin is the rest of the time because control is generally not an issue for me, but when it comes to my books… I’m OC.
I rewrite a manuscript the entire time I’m working on the first draft, so I can’t even say when the editorial process begins. But the torture of finishing a book—the final plod-through before turning it over to an editor—comes after I write the last word on the last page. Sort of. At least at that point I know how the book ends so I can go back and link together all the bits and pieces that drifted from my fingers as I wrote. At that point my creative Muse is whimpering under the bed so I turn on the editor and play with words, run spellchecks, hunt down my repetitive phrase syndrome, etc, until my Muse has slept and recovered. I’ve never understood how other writers can whip the last smoking page off the printer and shoot the whole thing off to New York. I wish I could. My method is more like water torture.
But the book still isn’t done after I turn it in. Even after I’ve gone through my brilliant masterpiece for the millionth time and declared it finished, my editor will return with pages of revisions notes, and I’ll rip half the scenes apart and rebuild and then go through the above process again. And again. Makes one wonder how I ever wrote those first books on a typewriter!
How do the other writers among us polish a book for editorial consumption? Any handy tips for prying me out of my rut before I burn out all my brain cells? Any readers out there reading old backlist titles and comparing them to your favorite author’s new work? How are they holding up?