That title above sounds so effortless, I know. But I really thought about whether to use it or not.
“My final draft loves me. My final draft loves me not” is catchy, mind you. Yet it doesn’t quite fit the point of this post.
It’s more a matter of “I love my final draft. I love my final draft not.” Or, even more fitting, “I have a final draft. I have a final draft not.”
It’s understandable that we’d be nervous about the publishing process, especially if it’s our first time around that block. Failure isn’t fun, of course, and there’s always the potential to fail miserably once we decide our novel manuscripts are ready for the real world.
We might get one-star reviews, for instance. Possibly worse still is the possibility of getting no-star reviews. As in nobody reads our books whatsoever.
So here’s two truths about those fears, the first being that, sure. That kind of failure could happen once you put your best publishing foot forward.
Yet here's the second: You shouldn’t let it stop you from going for it anyway.
Mind you, that second truth applies to a thoroughly edited manuscript: one you’ve reviewed and had others review for you. I’m hardly promoting the act of publishing poorly put-together presentations here.
For one thing, I’m an editor with a reputation to maintain. For another, I’m a reader who prefers a certain level of polished engagement when I open a book.
Yet it’s also why there’s one last bit of advice to give about this last creative hurrah:
At some point, it has to be a final draft, either because you’ve set it aside, you’ve published it... or you’re dead.
A true artist craves his vision of perfection in a finished work. But actual perfection by human hands and human means is never actually achievable. So striving for it is only going to end in failure.
Let’s repeat that last line: Striving for perfection is only going to end in failure. Therefore, at some certain point, you really should decide to either set your manuscript aside and start something else or publish it... before you die.
It comes down to this: There’s a 100% chance of failure if you keep working on your story, saying you’ll publish once it’s perfect.
Which makes your chances of getting some of those positive reviews we mentioned before look pretty good after all.
Because I’m obsessed with providing accurate information, I want to make one clarification about all that final draft encouragement above.
There is a very small chance that you can die and then be published. It happened to Stieg Larsson, for one, author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
It also happened to Emily Dickinson, who didn’t personally publish most of her poems… Franz Kafka, author of The Metamorphosis… and Sylvia Plath to some degree.
However, the chances of you being so lucky, if that’s the right word here, are almost 100% against you… once again leading to the conclusion that there’s only so long you should stall.
Just commit already! Throw your fears and perfection-seeking ways to the side! Say you’re ready to end your editing phase and start your final efforts as an unpublished author!
It’s never going to happen unless you go for it.
And don’t you really want it to happen?