I had been working on a book for at least a year. It had reached the stage when the editor agreed it was all but done. I did more work—that “all but done”—and sent it in, but felt dissatisfied. “There’s something not right,” I suggested. “Tell what me what you think it might be.”
The editor responded by telling me she was going to share it with two others, an editor, and “a very bright intern.” She added, “I’ve read the book too many times, myself.” Oh, bless the honest editor!
When I heard back, a suggestion was passed on from that intern. It wasn’t even a suggestion. The intern was pointing out that it wasn’t clear what the motivation was for a key character who does something upon which the whole plot rests.
The moment I read that, not only did I realize the criticism was right, I was able to supply that motivation—maybe ten or fifteen lines—very quickly. As soon as I did, the whole book shifted—for the better.
What can I suggest about the experience?
I have no objections to self-publishing. All writers do self-editing but to only do self-editing is highly problematical. Other eyes are obligatory.
Generally speaking, in our system of publishing, it is only the author’s name that appears on a book. Except it is never really true. Many people contribute to the creation of a published book—or should.
Then, too, it was only because I had worked on the book for a long time that I was able to immediately perceive that the suggestion was right, And I could quickly supply a fix.
This is to say that one of the factors that contribute to the making of a book is time. It may seem odd to say—but I believe it deeply—it takes time to understand your own book.
Other eyes. Time. Key parts of writing.