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  • Writer's pictureToni

6 Signs That You’re Done Revising Your Novel

Revision can be, and often is, the longest part of the writing process. It can be easy to get caught in the weeds and lose track of how much more improvement your novel needs. That means it can also be difficult to know when your book is done and ready to publish. And that’s even before you throw in confidence issues and perfectionism!


So in this post, we’ll go over some signs that your book has reached its final draft.



Sign 1: You’ve gone over all the major and minor aspects of your book.

The first thing to check when you’re trying to decide if your book is ready to publish is whether you’ve already handled all the major and minor aspects of the story that might need revision. Things like:

  • plot & narrative structure

  • character arcs

  • pacing

  • scene enhancement

  • sentence beautification

  • punctuation and grammar errors

If you’ve already taken a second (or third or fifth or tenth) look at all these things, then there’s a good chance your novel is ready to go. But if you’re still not sure? Keep on reading.



>> Want a more in-depth revision checklist? Download your free draft-by-draft revision guide right here!



Sign 2: Your beta readers are raving about the story.

If your beta readers are coming back to you and saying that they absolutely adored your book, that it destroyed them, that it made them laugh or cry or want to throw it across the room (in a good way), then you can be pretty confident that your revision job is done. Look for phrases like:

  • I loved this!

  • So when is the sequel coming out?

  • I need more!


Sign 3: Your beta readers are giving directly opposite feedback from each other.

Image text: Opposite feedback can be a good thing! | Toni Suzuki, SFF Editor - editsbytoni.com

Maybe you’re not getting entirely raving reviews from your beta readers, but that doesn’t mean your book isn’t ready. Another great sign that your revisions are pretty much finished is that your beta readers can’t seem to agree on certain things. If half of them love your main character and half of them hate your main character, that doesn’t mean you’ve still got work to do—that means your main character has a distinct personality that appeals to some people and not others.


Opposite feedback isn’t always a bad thing! If everyone who read your book hated your main character, then you might want to consider another round of revisions, but if you’ve got about a 50-50 split, then you’re probably good to go.



>> Are you afraid of sharing your writing? This post might help you out!



Sign 4: When you make changes to your book, it doesn’t actually get better—it just gets different.

During pretty much every step of the way in revisions, you’ll likely be able to see how the changes you’re making improve the book in some way, whether you’re tightening the plot, clarifying a character arc, or sweeping up typos. But if you get to a point where the changes you’re making don’t make the book better anymore—don’t make it easier to read, a more enjoyable experience for readers, or closer to your goals as an author—that’s a sign that you’re probably done with revisions.


Now, I know this is a place where self-doubt can creep in a bit, too. There may be a stage in your revisions where you can’t see how exactly your book is improving, even though it actually is. If that’s the case for you, I recommend having a trusted beta reader who already read a previous version come back to read the new version. This can help you get a more objective perspective.



Sign 5: The changes you’re making are mostly focused on tiny details like punctuation.

Obviously, the final stage of revision is all about eliminating as many typos and other grammar and punctuation errors as possible. That’s a totally legit and necessary part of the revision process. But as an editor, let me tell you this: Your book will likely never be 100% error-free. An excellent editor has an error catch rate of 90-95%, and so does an excellent proofreader. That means even after having multiple people comb through your entire book, there will still probably be a handful of errors left once you hit the publish button. This is totally normal, even for books published by major publishers with lots of editors.


This is a place where perfectionism is likely the thing holding you back. If you find yourself combing through for errors over and over and over again and only finding one or two each time, then it’s time to publish.



Sign 6: You feel like you’re going in circles or spinning your wheels rather than making any progress on your revisions.

You’ll notice that I haven’t put much in the way of feelings-based signs in this post, and that’s because feelings aren’t always the best indicators of progress, especially when we’re dealing with something as personal as writing. You can feel like your book is absolute trash when in reality it’s a complete treasure.

Image text: Revisions take a while, but they shouldn't go on forever. | editsbytoni.com

But feeling like your revisions are stalled can be an indicator that there aren’t actually any more revisions to do. So if you’ve already had a look at all the signs above and several of them are pointing to publish now, plus you’re feeling stuck, then there’s a good chance you should publish now.


But if you’re still not sure, I can help with that! My Editorial Evaluation service was designed with this exact situation in mind. When you feel stalled in your revisions and aren’t sure where to go next, I can give you an element-by-element report on your novel as a whole, including everything from worldbuilding down to typos.


Sound like something that would help you out? Get more info here!



Finally, a quick pep talk:

If you’ve read through all the signs above and most of them are pointing to you being done with revisions, then it’s time to publish. Your book is ready. You might not feel like it’s ready (or like you’re ready), but it is (and you are).


Yeah, it’s scary putting your book out there. And yeah, it probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s probably not perfect. But trust that the readers who are meant to read it will love it, even in its imperfection. Trust that you’ve done the best you can on this book with your current level of skills.


Even if it’s scary, put your book out there anyway. Your readers are waiting for this exact story. Share it with them.


 

I hope this post has helped you figure out whether you’re done with revisions or not! And if you’re still somewhere in the middle of revisions and have lost track of what’s coming and going, download your free revision guide. It’s full of questions that’ll help guide you as you finish up each draft.


And if you need a pair of professional outside eyes to let you know how much work there’s left to do, hire me to do an Editorial Evaluation! I’ll tell you (nicely but frankly) whether it’s time to publish or it’s time to do another draft or two. I don’t pull my punches, but I’m not going to flame your novel into oblivion, either. Get more details here, or reach out directly via email.

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