Perfectionism is often a curse, especially when it comes to publication. The quest for perfection can prevent us from sending that query letter or hitting the publish button on Amazon. It can leave us trapped in a vicious cycle of edits and rewrites. We want our work to be the best it can be, but when do we decide to let our manuscript move on to the next step in the publication process? Often fear of failure presents itself under the guise of perfection and when we tell ourselves we don’t want to publish until our work is flawless, what we really mean is that we’re afraid our work won’t measure up–that we won’t measure up.
How do we know when our manuscript is ready to query or publish? Many authors, publishers, or writing coaches can offer suggestions, but deciding to publish is a highly personal decision.
When I first began writing, I wanted to hurl my first draft out to agents the moment I finished typing “The End.” After rejections, suggestions from critique partners, and the experience I’ve gained, I’m a bit more hesitant when it comes to letting my baby leave the nest. Maybe too hesitant. I tend to hold on to manuscripts forever and I’ve concocted an elaborate editing/rewrite ritual. With each manuscript, the editing process lasts longer and becomes more elaborate. At the rate I’m going, the manuscript I finished in December won’t be ready for publication until 2026. Yeah, it’s starting to get out of hand.
Writers, how do you determine a manuscript is ready to query or publish? What is your editing process?