Back to the book. And so you finished the book, shivering cold with excitement in the middle of July. And here comes the big test: you start passing it around to people. Most likely you have some friends who read a lot, though that does not make them professional editors.
Some go silent, so you assume that they are too busy or self-centered, rather than accepting that your book sucked. Most of them come back with praise, though. You are ready for the trap.
There comes Circe, and she has many faces.
“What an amazing book!” She means it.
“One of the best I’ve ever read.” She means even that. She is your worst enemy.
“I never thought you could write something like that.” Not sure if that’s a compliment.
Do not fall for Circe’s magic.
Your book still sucks. Big time. You need another two years of work if it is an epic 350K word saga. It is September of 2014 and you must not publish before September 2016.
The worst of all the faces of Circe is yourself. You stare at your PC, then the word file that kindles in your Kindle, then the mirror. You managed to complete a story that makes sense, more or less, you enjoy reading it yourself and it is like 700-pages. Wow! So you feel proud.
This, your own myth, is your biggest trap. Why?
Because, (sorry I’ll capitalize that because it is important):
WRITING A MEDIOCRE OK-ISH BOOK IS AN AMAZING FEAT THAT ONLY ONE IN TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE CAN PROBABLY ACCOMPLISH.
It takes an enormous effort to write a mediocre book. Blood and tears. So you are right to be proud. Just don’t be shocked when nobody reads your book two years later.
It’s like running the 100 meters in 10.6 seconds. You are super-fast. Faster than most people on earth. Only a few thousand are faster than you. You will never compete anywhere. Nobody will ever know your name. You will not receive an endorsement even from your favorite uncle’s dry cleaning store.
Here is what you have to do, especially if you are a first-time author and you don’t have the best editor in the world. Go back, reread it fifty times and rewrite it thirty times. I think I’ve edited every chapter thirty times. When Drakon came out in Greek it got some raving reviews from readers I’ve never met, not even in a forum. And they have read everything. Circes. So what did I do when I had to translate it in English? I rewrote the whole thing. Changed 95% of the sentences. Edited it another thirty times.
I still think that it needs another year of work. Or five years. But mental exhaustion catches up at some point, the story will start eating its own flesh like an ouroboros snake.
There is no rule. You never stop, you keep editing until you absolutely cannot do it anymore.
Come back for my next post: Untitled for now.