So, you’ve finished writing the book. You’ve taken it through several drafts, heaps of edits and marathon proof-reading sessions. You’ve read it on your computer, your e-reader and in hard copy (please say you have…) and it’s passed through the capable hands of your editor, if you have one, and your trusted beta readers. Now it’s ready for submission to your chosen agent or publisher. Right?
You don’t want to send it off to meet its public with its hair in curlers, naked-faced and wearing an old cardi, do you? Of course you don’t.
Not so long ago I didn’t believe this either, but the moment you decide your book is ready to go, a strange, silent force moves in and deposits sneaky typos, repeated words, unclosed speech marks, rogue commas and other blemishes upon your nice clean script – all of which you’re a hundred percent sure were not there before. At the same time, your mind starts working away behind the scenes all by itself. Suddenly it throws out a cracker of a word or sentence or idea that absolutely must go in your first chapter, or wherever. If you’ve already submitted, that’s an opportunity missed.
This is where The Gap comes in.
The book needs to lie low for at least a week or two – longer if you’re strong-minded enough. Hide the computer file, throw the hard copy on top of the wardrobe. Do whatever you have to do, but put some distance between you and it. Fill The Gap with reading, writing that short story, or planning your next novel. Or take a break from the whole kit and caboodle and open a bottle of something bubbly. You’ve written a book and that’s no mean achievement, whether it’s your first or your thirteenth. Celebrate that.
When your book has served its time in exile, set it free and read it again. You’ll be reading from a new perspective and with fresh eyes, eyes that, miraculously, can now see what was there all along. Add that make-or-break sentence and fix the errors. Take out the curlers, make up its face and pour it into a slinky dress.
Now it’s ready to dazzle its public. Right?