‘Perfect never gets published’

‘Perfect never gets published’ was the most motivating advice I read, in the last couple of years. And the more I think about it—it’s definitely true.

I procrastinated, for about a decade, about publishing my completed manuscript (A Charming Bequest) for my debut novel. How to do it – traditional or self publishing. Is it good enough? Etc. Periodically I’d read it and tweak it, and various kind beta readers read it and gave me feedback and I’d tweak it again. Then I’d follow the advice of putting it away, to distance myself from it, and some time later I’d dig it out again and look at it with ‘new eyes’ but I couldn’t work up the courage to send it Out There. When I read ‘perfect never gets published’, I decided to give it a go.

What is Perfect?

I’ve come to the conclusion, ‘Perfect’ is about liking something or not, and it’s subjective. I’ve read some published books by people who give the advice of ‘perfect writing’ who don’t seem to follow their own rules.

I think what is most important is ‘The Best it can Be’. Sometimes I can’t help thinking if everything was Perfect, it might be lacking uniqueness. Its personality. I want to hear the writer’s voice telling me the story, even if they use language that might grate with me – it’s their voice. As long as the story holds my interest, and it should if it fits the ‘Rules’ of structure, then that’s good. If it hooks me, I will read it to the end. (And yes, when I’m reading a Kindle book I do report errors/typos, ‘to help’.) If it’s a print book, once I turn the page I move on and dismiss it.

There are many published books I’ve read with spelling errors, lacking continuity, inconsistencies in the story and timeline, don’t follow the ‘Rules’ of creative writing and some stories never get started. But despite this, they might also be quite enjoyable complete reads (even if they turn out to be one of a series) and isn’t this the aim of reading a story? Enjoyable. It’s escaping from your own world into someone else’s for a while?

I read books for the story. As I read, I have an imaginary vision of the characters in my mind, which runs along like watching a film, which is why I’ve always read the book before I see the movie – I’m often disappointed with the movie. But I might now deliberately experiment reading the book after watching an enjoyable movie to make a comparison.

Nor do I judge a book by its cover. If I’m reading Kindle versions covers don’t really apply and the sample alone needs to hook me. Talking of covers, I remember when I was a child my mother had a book collection from a club of some sort. They all had the same bland checked dust jackets and the only difference was the title and the colour, which probably indicated the genre? (I was too young to know.) These versions of books wipe out the concept of judging the content by the covers.

And now I’m playing with ideas of writing and illustrating stories for children. I’m not the greatest artist on the planet, it’s only a hobby, and I’m reading about ‘Perfect’ again. But I’ve seen books when I’ve been reading with my grandchildren that I don’t particularly like, but the children enjoy them and it provokes a conversation as we’re reading. Isn’t that a sign of a good book? It holds the child’s attention and provokes a conversation either about what’s in the illustrations, or the story content.

Now I’m reading that it’s important to build a readership (for sales) and it probably means writing 2-3 books a year over 10 years to start making even a passive income from it, which to me equates to the theory of 10,000 hours to become an ‘expert’. It does not equate to turning out Perfect.

I aspire to writing acceptable, good enough and prolific, instead of chasing the mythical Perfect and hope I can build a readership looking for enjoyable escapism.

About Caroline Scott Collins

Writer - Creates believable escapism Caroline dreamed of writing and publishing and finally, in 2021, she achieved her goal by publishing her debut novel, A Charming Bequest. She believes it’s important to offer her readers enjoyment and believable escapism with her stories, which she sincerely hopes she does.
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