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How do you Know When a Book is Done?

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Sisay Lemma from Ethiopia crossing the finish line of the London Marathon (Credit:

Paul Valéry said that an artwork is never finished, merely abandoned. If you try to figure out how do you know your book is finished, you’ll find mainly articles quoting other people, with this quote in particular (attributed to various artists and writers). I found this to be of little help. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so anything that can still be improved is a reason for me to keep working on it for EVER. So, for realz, how do you know?

I started working with Lucy from Bang2Write, a no-bullshit, cut-to-the-chase Brit who would tell you what she thinks (a rarity in itself, but let’s keep this post to the point). She told me this: if you’re sick of it and people’s feedback is just adding chores to your to-do list, stop working on it and send it out. What’s the worst that can happen?

And that’s how I realised that The Mommy Manual, the first book I’ve ever written, was done. Is it perfect? Hell, no. But I’m done working on it for now. I want to work on something else. I have already started working on my next book (which is in dire need of a working title).

Deciding a book is done is tough also because the next step is to send it out. And sending your baby out into the world, where other people may not appreciate it for the unique snowflake it is, is HARD. I have been working through a lot of resistance to send this story out (is today really a good day to send emails? Is this email the best it can be?). But finally, I did it (and I’ll write more about that soon, promise).

I sent out the first three chapters along with a one-page pitch to a dozen or so agents. If one of these agents (or the agents I’ll send to later on because submission, apparently, is a three-tiered cake) wants me to work on the book further or gets me an editor, of course, I’ll do the work. But I’ve done what I could for this book in terms of writing it. Now I’m doing what I can for it in terms of getting it to people I think are most likely to enjoy it. And I’ll keep you updated as always on that.

PS. Thank you for your patience.


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