I ran into a writer friend at the conference last week.
As I always do, I asked her about the book she wrote--the one that I love and can't wait to read from front to back.
She finished it, and tried to edit and re-write. Now it is tucked away. She refuses to look at it.
I know it's good--because I got to read some of it, and she's a good writer.
She hasn't sent it to any editors or agents and she refuses to do so anytime soon.
I know she could get an agent. She could get her book published.
But, when I ask why she didn't submit to the agent that asked for her full manuscript, she said that she didn't want to publish something that was okay or good. She wants to know that her book is the best work she can do; this book doesn't feel like her best work.
But, does your first book ever really have to be the absolute best thing in the world? Do you really have to work on it until you're 80 years old and you finally know it's PERFECT before you can get it published?
Or is it okay to write the best you can do for now and publish and continue to learn and grow and improve as a writer with every new book you write?
I know some authors who published and as they've continued writing and publishing they have truly honed their craft--they've made incredible improvements in their writing.
After reading the Boyfriends With Girlfriends book I understood the idea of wanting to wait until you know you have the very best piece of writing you could ever produce. Because I read that book, I have no desire to read more of that author's writing. Maybe that's not fair to him as a learning, progressing writer--but that's my immediate response as a reader.
I don't want someone to read my first book and think, "Wow that sucked. I'm never reading a book by TA Demings again." I want someone to pick it up and read the first page and get sucked in until they get to the last page and then think, "Wow, that was awesome. Where can I get more books by TA Demings?"
So where is the line? Is it okay to publish now and improve later? How far do you drag out the wait-until-this-story-is-perfect-before-I-subimit process? How much room do you allow yourself as a writer to publish and then improve? Could it hurt your writing career to publish something that has great characters and no plot if someone is going to read it and not want to read any more of your books? Does any of this matter?
Maybe there is no definitive answer, but I'd love to know your opinions on this.
Leave me a comment below.