You write a book and edit, edit, then edit some more. You have beta readers, and you may even hire an editor or two. This is your masterpiece because after all, isn’t every book your new baby? And you strive for perfection—the perfect book, one that all readers will love, both the everyday reader and the author/editor/professional publisher type of reader as well. But there’s one thing you hadn’t considered. The only place perfection resides is in mathematics. When it comes to writing, there is no such thing.
Everyone has advice, and the rules are ever-changing. What worked in literary classics is frowned upon today. And while one reviewer loves the book enough to give it five stars, another will slam it with only one. Like my father used to say, that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla.
As for success, sex sells. Violence seems to be a big winner too. For every other genre, it’s a crapshoot. If the marketing is just so, the book could sell no matter what’s inside. Lingering success will likely depend upon the writing because if it’s not up to snuff, it won’t last. No problem for those who are experts at marketing. They’ll just write another one and market it well enough to make a little dough before continuing the same process.
For most writers, slow and steady wins the race. If we don’t happen to be “discovered” or win a slam dunk with the first book, all we can do is keep writing, try to figure out this marketing thing and hope our work will strike a chord with someone. Personally, I’ve had readers tell me my books have meant the world to them, and there is nothing more perfect than that.
With four books under my belt and a fifth one on the way, what I’ve learned is that perfection can never be achieved. What is perfect to some is awful to others. My own standards are impossible to meet, as I could edit a book 500 times and never be finished. There’s comes a point when you know it’s time to get that manuscript out to the public. Publish it, cross your fingers and hope for the best. If you know in your heart it’s good, it’s time to let go and release your baby out into the world.
No book is perfect. It doesn’t matter if it’s published by Random House, written by the most famous author around, or self-published. There will always be something for someone to complain about.
Well, let them complain if they’re wrong. And if they’re right, fix the problem and move on with your life. We’re only human after all, and perfection does not exist.
D.M. Miller is the author of the interfaith “Heart” series as well as the poetry collection, Dandelion Fuzz. The product of an interfaith marriage herself, Miller’s work explores the difficult themes of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, family, ancestry and love. See her books on Amazon.