One of the biggest challenges for writers is knowing when to stop. When to let the book go and move on to the next. But it’s tricky. Even hard publisher deadlines don’t stop some authors from tinkering. Or even re-casting.
That’s why contracts carry amendment clauses. Once a manuscript’s been proofed, everything that changes adds cost to the publisher. The threshold I’ve usually seen for author amendments is five or ten percent of the book, after which the cost of re-editing and re-typesetting is levelled on the author.
The cost calculation is true for self-publishing too (you want to get paid for your time…don’t you?).
And that’s apart from the problems that follow when you’re interrupting the editing process with changes. Trust me – that’s how errors arrive. Unwelcomed. Unheralded. But they’re gonna crash your party.
The point to stop, then, is when the manuscript’s ready for publication. Then it can go through proof- and line-editing, typesetting and so forth without becoming a movable feast and without sending costs through the roof.
Of course it’s easy to say “just stop”. The harder part is stopping. The reason authors tinker is because the work hasn’t attained the conceptual perfection of the idea in their minds. And it’s an endless task, because these things never do. The point to stop, then, is where you are satisfied that your writing takes your reader on the emotional journey you intend. This point is true of all writing, not just fiction. My tips:
1. Starting right makes it easier to stop. If you structurally plan your writing, figure out what you want to say before putting finger to keyboard, you’ll know when it’s finished.
2. Command of styling is essential. That takes practise – and don’t be afraid to put the hours in getting that practise.
3. Get feedback – put your work out to ‘Beta Readers’.
4. Be confident in yourself. Don’t succumb to self-doubt.
What experiences have you had with ‘stopping’ – and how have you dealt with it?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014
Some shameless self promotion:
It’s also available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/bateman-illustrated-history/id835233637?mt=11
Nook coming soon.
You can still buy the print edition here: http://www.batemanpublishing.co.nz/ProductDetail?CategoryId=96&ProductId=1410