Revisions are the Secret to Success

Success and longevity in publishing isn’t about writing. It’s about revising. Over and over and over again.

I will always be an awe of the author who writes a book. 400 pages! I can’t even imagine writing 100. But the true hero is the author who rewrites that book and revises that book and does it not once, not twice, but many times. I once heard an author say she had rewritten her book 85 times. 85! A hero with a pen.

Success doesn’t come from writing that book. Success comes from tearing that book apart and writing it again and again. And then finding an agent. And tearing it apart again. And doing the same with an editor.

Success comes from opening yourself up to possibilities you hadn’t even seen before and giving up passages and characters you loved. From killing off your darlings.

Mostly though, true success comes from learning with each revision and knowing that you’ve never learned it all. That even if you take everything you learned from those last 30 rounds and incorporated them into your next book there will still be another 30 rounds.

If I’m asked today what I want most in a client it would say a willingness to do the hard work. To kill off your darlings and to learn and grow not with each book, but with each round of revisions. Because if you’re willing to do the work, I’m happy to help.

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9 comments

  1. New words are hard. To get the main story idea down in a linear way that makes sense is truly a million-piece jigsaw puzzle. Once that is done, the fun begins. The best part of the whole process is revising, editing, changing and rearranging. It’s the part I enjoy the most!

  2. Thanks for posting this blog. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “You’re still editing your book?!”
    “Yes,” I reply. “And if I’m lucky enough to find an agent to represent me, I’ll be editing my book for even longer!”
    Writing a book is hard work and takes dedication beyond what many imagine, but the passion authors have keeps them going.

  3. Jessica, will you be at Bouchercon in Dallas next month? I would love to meet you beyond the page and video. Those are so very helpful. Thanks for sharing the information all writers need.

  4. Jessica, your post on revisions has boosted my morale tremendously. I’ve been revising my novel most of the summer. I’m still amazed at how shuffling sentences, playing with descriptions, and fine-tuning characters makes the story stronger. Killing darlings was difficult at first, but now I dispatch them with aplomb! Thank you.

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