It’s a two-packets-of-sweetener-in-my-tea kind of day.
tl;dr: I have no idea what to do with my book and I just about want to give up on it completely because obviously, it’s not ready to be published, but… ::whine:: I want so badly to publish it, even though I know it’s likely to get a bunch of bad reviews if I do.
The long version:
So, I’ve received beta feedback for The Wizard’s Heart from all but one beta reader, and the commentary is very… divided. Some of them loved the book and think it would be perfect if I tweaked a little bit here and there, and others didn’t like it at all, thought it was boring or just meh. My editor and a couple of betas think it needs a complete overhaul, but they all have different issues with it. Two of my beta readers purposefully stopped reading because they just didn’t care. ::sigh::
And though there were beta readers who loved it, I can’t help but focus on the negative.
Of all the mentioned problems, there is no consensus. The character that some of the betas hated is the same character that other betas loved. Some people thought the romance was perfect, and others thought it was forced and unrealistic. Some loved the beginning, others thought it was slow, and so on so forth. No one really agreed on anything.
This leaves me with next to no idea how to improve my book for publication.
Just about the only thing that most of them did agree on was wanting more of the setting and mythology and how the magic worked, and those of them who enjoyed the story wanted to know more about the villain at the end. So, at least I know of a few things I can improve for the betterment of the book.
But when I think about working on my book, I’m immediately exhausted. I have worked on this book in one form or another four the last four and a half years now. I’m ready to be done with it. But I also want it to be the best book it can be. I don’t want to release a crap book. But I’m not sure I have the time and energy to put into it anymore.
The truth is: I don’t want to work on it anymore.
I could. That much is certain. I could address all the issues my beta readers had with the novel. I could really dig in and work my ass off to make this a five-star book. I really could. I know I could. But it would take me at least another six months, maybe a year, maybe longer. That’s another book or two or three I could write. That’s another six months I could be improving my craft instead of trying to rework this novel to death.
So, really, I need to figure out what is important to me.
Do I want to rework this novel into a five-star book? Sure. But do I want to spend the time it would take to do it? Hell no, I don’t. So honestly, I probably won’t. And part of me hates that. I would knowingly publish something that isn’t the absolute best I can make it. I would be publishing a four-star book… again. And, I don’t know, maybe that’s okay.
I have to look at things pragmatically.
The Wizard’s Heart is not a bad book. It’s not like I vomited out a first draft without putting any effort into it. I put my fucking soul into this book. I have cried over this book. I have cried over the characters. I have agonized over plot and reworked certain chapters four, five, six times over. I have put more effort into this book than anything I have ever worked on in my entire life, and honestly, I’m not sure I have much more effort to give.
And honestly? I love this book. I absolutely love it. It’s the story I wanted to tell four and a half years ago, when I first started. And maybe that’s all that really matters. No, not everyone will love it as much as I do. I can’t please everyone, but I can please myself. I can be proud of this book. Even if I released it today, I would be proud of it.
I’m willing to work on it a bit more—better describe the setting, explain the magic system, set up the characters better in the first chapters, show the villain’s motive, and fix a problematic scene in the middle. Those are fixes that I can do and still maintain the integrity of the story I wanted to tell. Those would be true improvements, not just change for the sake of change. Anything else, and I think I would just be trying to please other people instead of myself. And if I’m proud of the book, then who gives a shit what anyone else thinks.
So maybe this whole thing has just been me making my mind up on what to do. I can’t let doubt and fear keep me from publishing a book that I love, a book that I’m proud of. I can’t let other people make me feel that way, whatever their intentions. I won’t let myself fall into the trap of endless revisions.
No. I’m going to publish this book.
And I’m going to publish it next month. That’s my deadline. Come July, I’m done with The Wizard’s Heart. I’m moving on. I’m letting it sink or swim on its own, and I’m not going to look back.
So, take that, Doubt.