1. “Perfection Paralysis”
Perfection paralysis can manifest itself as a continuous cycle of rewriting or making your fiftieth cover design change even though you loved the fifth one best… Sometimes, the pursuit of perfection is just procrastination and self-doubt disguised as writing and editing. If you’re tempted to go back to the drawing board for the umpteenth time, ask yourself why you feel the need to change everything. If you’re not sure, seek input from trusted colleagues and professionals before making drastic changes to what may already be wonderful, just the way it is.
2. Synonym overload (goes with above)
It’s easy to become overly reliant on your thesaurus while writing or editing a book. However, indiscriminate word substitutions can lead to unnecessary complexity for readers. If you find yourself replacing every third word with a synonym that essentially means the same thing, consider pausing and reflecting on the value these edits bring to your book. Are you avoiding a different issue, such as establishing the right character tone or shaping the story’s arc, or are these edits genuinely required?
A million decisions are involved in writing, editing, designing, and publishing your book. Once you’ve researched, vetted, discussed, brainstormed, and made decisions, my advice for the sake of sanity is to stick with your decision. Avoid shiny object syndrome at all costs. It wastes your creative time and derails your project. Trust your gut (and your editing + design team) to avoid getting stuck in a never-ending weekly cycle of change-everything (font styles, spacing, page sizes, running header styles, graphics, icons) revision sessions.
4. Running out of money
Once you’ve taken your manuscript as far as your abilities allow, it’s time to budget for the professional services needed to bring your book to completion. If a major publishing house isn’t picking up the tab, you’re likely in the same boat as many self-publishers or authors who look to a hybrid/boutique publisher.
After countless hours of writing and rewriting your manuscript, you’ll want access to editing (to polish and perfect), design (to make it pretty), tech support (to make it physically happen), publishing (to make sure it gets into stores), and marketing (to launch, sell, and build a profitable plan around your book).
If you can do all of this yourself, fantastic! But otherwise, if you’re an ordinary author without a master’s in publishing, I highly recommend budgeting for the essential services that matter most to you. It will make your publishing process SO much more enjoyable and leave you with a fabulous book launch.
5. Skipping milestones & missing deadlines
There are some things that you can’t change. For example, the speed at which printing presses run and delivery drivers drive. If you’ve set a launch event date, you automatically have a series of milestones and corresponding deadlines to meet. Common book milestones include completing editing, finalizing design, proofing the hard copy, executing marketing strategies, ordering prints, ensuring timely delivery, and organizing the launch event.
If you skip your hard copy proofing milestone, you may send a book with errors to Barnes & Noble. Similarly, if you’ve been caught in an endless revision loop, you risk missing critical printing deadlines. We’ve seen an author arriving at their book launch event uncertain if they’ll have any books to sell due to missed milestones and postponed deadlines. Allow yourself ample time and patience to bring your magic into the world. It’s worth it.
BONUS TRUTH: Every author, no matter their experience, wrestles with imposter syndrome. Questions like “Is my story good enough?” or “Am I the right person to tell it?” are part of the writer’s journey. To counter this, surround yourself with a supportive community of friends, colleagues, and professionals – your Entourage 😉 – who share your vision. They’ll help you embrace the vulnerability of writing and make it an empowering adventure.
xo Jenn Goulden