By Kathleen Y’Barbo
As the author of 50 books, I often get asked how I manage to write all those books. My answer? One book at a time! I also get asked for my secret to how I manage to reach THE END and press SEND time after time.
Know what you have. Print out the manuscript and do a complete read-through in hard copy. Aloud. Yes. Read your manuscript to yourself. I know. You’ll look like an idiot. Who cares? This is how you will know what’s there. It’s fine to take notes as you read. I encourage it, actually, but don’t stop to re-write. Just read. Safe the edits for later.
Know what you have to do. Maybe it’s as simple as finishing the book. Or as complicated. Maybe you’re finished with your novel but through the previous exercise you’ve found some things that need work. Great! That’s your next project, then. Whether you’re writing or editing, I want you to stop right now and decide exactly what needs doing. And write it down. Yes, like a goal. A real goal. Because once you’ve identified what you have to do, you must then figure out exactly how you’re going to do it.
Know how to reach your goal. You’ve read the manuscript and identified what needs to be done. Now you need to implement a concrete course of action to reach your goal. Need to finish the book. What’s your word count goal? How many words can you comfortably write in a day? Or, maybe you need to look at a weekly goal. Maybe you work better by looking at your book in chapters. The important thing is to reach a number and to look critically at the time you’ve allowed for writing. Underestimate the amount of hours in a week that you can devote to writing. That way you’ll be ahead if you do better than what you’ve projected.
Know when to stop. There are authors out there who do not know when to stop working on their completed manuscript. I am not suggesting that you turn out a substandard product, but at some point, you just have to let it go. Guess what? It’s never going to be perfect. Ask any published author if he or she wouldn’t jump at the chance to tweak their books that are already in print. And these are novels that have been through multiple edits. So, understand that you’ve done your best and let it go. Or perhaps your problem isn’t perfectionism. Maybe your real issue is fear. Fear of rejection. Or maybe fear of success. Did I hit a nerve? If so, ask yourself: what am I afraid of? What’s the opposition that’s keeping me from moving forward?
Know what to do next. Yes, next. You’re finished with the book. You’ve done the work of editing, and now you’re placing your manuscript in the hands of an editor or agent. Great! Now what? Write! That’s what you do next.
RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than fifty novels, novellas, and young adult books. She is a 2014 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Nominee. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few. Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division. A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots (read about their real-life romance here!). Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas driver’s license. Her website is www.kathleenybarbo.com her recent books are Millie's Treasure, Flora's Wish and Rocky Mountain Heiress Collection.