That’s up to you. Seriously though, the question ” When is your book done? ” is a thought that many writers have. I know I think of it over and over again, especially while working on the Mental Damnation series. The question isn’t as direct as you might think, you have to ask yourself some questions before you make an ultimatum on when your novel is completed. Take a step back and think what your goal is for the story, this will help narrow down on what will determine when your book is done.
What are your book goals?
Some things to consider is why you are writing the story to begin with. Many of us, especially in the genre fiction realm are drawn to writing because of an inner desire to share stories. We won’t go down the philosophical route and will stay focused on practical notes of consideration:
Is this your first novel?
If you are working on your first book, some of the best advice that was ever given to me was about word count. Generally with a new author, you want your novel to be around 60,000-70,000 words whether you are going traditionally published or self-published. This is just a bit longer than a novella and shorter than some of the big name authors, it makes it easier for publishers, agents and readers alike to take a risk on you. So see about shortening your story to fit within this word length range.
Are you looking to be published?
Short story or novel, if you have a specific publisher or magazine in mind you will want to familiarize yourself with their standards of submission. Sometimes they are very specific about length, genre and formatting. This will dictate how many words you have to work with and constrain you to tell the story within that amount.
Is your book part of a series?
If yes, then you have to do some long term planning to decide when your novels and overarching storyline is done. Will each novel be in that sweet 60,000 word count range or are you going to be ambitious and make each installment 150,000 words? Also consider what the ending will be and work backwards form there. A series can be a whole blog post on its own, so we will save that for another time.
Strategies for knowing when your book is done
Let’s look into some tactics on knowing when to call it quits with your book. We can spend months if not years tweaking and adjusting our book that we can lose track of our goals. Below are some things to consider to steer you to a conclusion:
- As we discussed before:
- Let the publisher’s word length determine how many words you work with.
- Start with an ending and work backwards.
- Present several endings to your beta readers or critique group and obtain feedback. Stick with what they suggest.
- Accept the fact you will never be happy with your book.
- Learn to let it go.
- Set some hard timelines on when your book will be done, for better or worse.
Ultimately it is up to you.
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, it is really up to you when your book is done. Decide on what your goals are for the book and get feedback from beta readers to see if you are on the right track. Setting a hard deadline for when you need the book done is another great way to force yourself to get a book done. Often we work well under constraints as creatives types and it forces us to work to the best of our abilities.