Finishing a Book: The True Story

by Sophfronia Scott

First you sweat over how you’re going to get your book written. Then you sweat over how you’re going to get it published. Maybe you go for a traditional publisher. Maybe you decide to publish your book on your own. One way or the other you make a decision and you make it happen. You finally enter the publishing process and as it begins you feel a huge wave of relief like the warm waters of the Caribbean lapping at your feet. You’ve done it. Your book is finally going to be real.

But every so often I hear from first time authors whose books are in the last stages of publishing and they tell me of fears, frustration and exhaustion. “Is it really supposed to be like this?” they ask. Well, yes, yes and yes. Think about a marathon runner crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles. What does he or she look like? Every runner, professional or amateur, looks like they’re about to collapse. They definitely don’t look like they’re about to jump up and run another one! They are happy and proud of the accomplishment, but the running was still tough especially at the end. The publishing process is like that. No one talks about the end of the process so I’ve decided to do that here. When your time comes and you hit the wall, you’ll know how to get to the other side.

The Reading Road

How many times have you read your manuscript? Before you submitted it for publishing you probably read it a dozen times making sure it was as polished as it could be. Then your manuscript reached the hands of an editor and you passed it back and forth between you as you made changes. You read it many more times. Then the copy editor got involved and started asking about the placement of commas and name spellings and sentence fragments. You read the manuscript again and again and now you’re feeling cross-eyed.

The book gets formatted and as you’re reading through the page proofs you’re seeing mistakes that you’ve never seen before: typos, spelling mistakes. Were they there before or did these somehow get put in when the book was formatted? No one knows, but now you have to go through the book again. At this point you’re not sure if you can stand to look at it again.

None of this is unusual. Frustrating? YES. But it’s a lot easier to take if you know to expect it. Remember this is a marathon. You’re going to have to read your manuscript over and over again before it’s finally printed. Get used to that idea now. If you don’t you might be tempted to just skim through the pages each time the manuscript comes back to you. After all, you’re paying other people to make sure it’s perfect, right?

But the truth is no one is going to catch everything. You have a better chance of catching more because you know your work. Plus no one will be as invested in the book as you are. Do not abdicate your reading responsibility to someone else.

Before the book goes to press the publishing company may have you sign a form saying you’re okay with the file the way it is and it is ready print. It’s your signature going on the form—not your editor, not the formatter. And you might be responsible for paying for any changes made after that. Again, you will be REALLY tired of reading your book at this point. But you owe it to yourself to take a breath, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and read it again.

If you’re still not happy with it, do something about it. It’s okay. The finish line is ahead. Don’t forget your dream of being a published author is about to happen. This last bit of work is totally worth it. Focus on the book and your goals, not on blame and frustration.

You can do this. Especially now that you know what to expect.

© 2010 Sophfronia Scott
Sophfronia Scott is Executive Editor of the Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. Learn what a difference being a published author can make for your business. Get your FREE audio CD, “How to Succeed in Business By Becoming a Bestselling Author” and your FREE online writing and book publishing tips at

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