Why Haven’t You Finished Your Manuscript? by Lauralynn Elliott

Now before you come after me with pitchforks, I need to clarify what I mean. I know the title might have sounded almost like an accusation, but bear with me.

There are many legitimate reasons you might not have finished yet. One is that it may simply take that long to write and edit your book. There’s nothing wrong with that. Different books take different amounts of time to get ready. There’s also the fact that some people simply don’t have time to work on their books as much as they would like. But what if that reason is fear? I’ve listed two reasons (I’m sure there are many more) writers might fear “the end”, and what my answers are to those reasons. I’m certainly not the “know all” when it comes to fear, and others might have very different answers, so these are just my opinions. So here goes:

  1. 1.      Fear of not being good enough. I’ve seen this a lot. Many writers fear they aren’t good enough, or that the book they just wrote isn’t good enough. So they edit and tweak, adding here, taking away there. It’s good to edit and make the book the best you can possibly make it. But some just can’t leave it alone. I can tell you this…it will NEVER be good enough for some people. No matter how good your book is SOME people won’t like it. And it may never be good enough for you. No matter how long you fiddle with it, you may never be satisfied. After almost every book I’ve published, I’ve always thought of ways I could make it better. But, you know, at some point, you’re going to have to decide it’s done. Otherwise, you will never publish it. Let some beta readers look at it. Chances are, if your beta readers love it, others will, too. So take the chance. If you’re just fiddling with the book because you’re afraid, then stop doing that and call it “done”. The world will not come to an end.
  2. 2.      Fear of not selling/making money. This is a legitimate concern, but shouldn’t necessarily be a fear. Trust me, I know about this one first hand. In January and February of 2011, I made more money from one .99 book than I did at my day job. But I kept things realistic, knowing that every book I wrote wouldn’t take off like that. I had one other book that did very well, although not as well as the one that sold so many copies. None of my other books have sold anywhere near the copies the big seller did, even though they are better books. Right now, my sales numbers are terrible, and I’ve heard the same thing from other authors. There is a LOT of competition now. I know many of you want to do this as a career at some point, and I know it’s scary to think it may not happen. However…if you never publish your book, whether independently or traditionally, you most certainly WON’T make any money. An unpublished book can’t sell even one copy. So what do you have to lose? Publish the book.

I hope I haven’t been too harsh or forward in this post. But I really want to see all of you face that fear, conquer it, and get that book out there.  I want you to feel that sense of accomplishment and excitement that comes from knowing it’s out there. There are several of us at ROW80 that have published already, and we’re always here to give you encouragement and help however we can. This is a great community of writers, and I’m so glad I can be a part of it.


Lauralynn Elliott

5 thoughts on “Why Haven’t You Finished Your Manuscript? by Lauralynn Elliott

  1. Why haven’t I published my books? Let me count the ways . . . Good start on a list here. But that perfectionist part of me wants to go back just once more. Writer’s Digest this month has a great article on cutting out backstory in the first section of your book before sending it out just one more time. So I’d say, perseverance (keep editing if you need to), planning (make a commitment and set a date to send out for agent or pubbing by indie press), and push on! Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  2. Some of us never get over that fear of it not being perfect no matter what successes or failures we have had (or anticipate having). It will always be a battle to just keep writing. Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, is a great read to prod you into keeping your fingers on the keyboard.

  3. Thanks, everyone. I was really afraid this post was too harsh. But I love to see writers feel the joy of finishing the manuscript and get it to the point of publishing. I sort of wish we had a place for ROW80ers to post their new releases. Sometimes I miss a release by a fellow ROW80er, and I really want to try to read all the books I can from this community. 🙂

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