Most of us are willing to admit we’ve acquired some quirks as a result of our upbringings—thanks, mom and dad! Although parents tend to be well-intentioned beings, sometimes it’s hard to find the right balance of freedom and discipline: give the kids too much leeway, and suddenly they’re out of control; critique them too closely, and they won’t grow.
Well, authors, the same is true for your brainchild. Without the proper mix of rigor and nurturing, your once promising book idea will fall flat.
Here are five surefire ways to ruin your creation’s potential—avoid them:
1. Any old name will do
You wouldn’t haphazardly name your newborn, so don’t do it to your book, either. Skimping on your title may be the easiest way to stunt your book’s success. Haven’t you heard the phrase, “you live up to the name you are given?”
A book’s title is the first thing a reader assess when picking out reading material. A startling, juicy, or clever title is the quickest way to lure in the reader, or at least encourage her to take a look at your back cover copy.
Solidifying a catchy title can be hard, but it will be worth it. Luckily, there are several tricks for securing that best-selling title.
2. Shelter its storyline
We all feel sorry for that child who has clearly been raised under a rock. Unfortunately, no one is going to feel sorry for your book when its storyline is too safe—they’re just going to stop reading.
You might not invite danger, tension, or lust into the life of a real child, but it is perfectly acceptable—and even advised—to imbed it into your book. If you want to grip your reader, don’t shelter your brainchild.
Receiving constant criticism never feels good, especially when you’re just starting out. Don’t give your draft a complex by over-editing in its early stages. Sometimes, you just need to let your ideas flow before you get to the good stuff.
Your manuscript doesn’t have to be (and won’t be) perfect the first time. But, if you spend all your time editing instead of writing, you’ll never finish the first draft.
Just like a kid who is constantly torn apart by her parents, your book will have trouble flourishing if it is never given space to grow.
4. Skip the Discipline
Let’s be honest: no one likes your 5 year-old cousin who is constantly bouncing off the walls because your aunt and uncle never bothered to explain the rules. Likewise, no publisher will like reading your manuscript if it hasn’t been edited and revised—at least a little bit.
Discipline your book by giving it a read through for general punctuation and grammar errors. Then, get a few more people to have a go. It takes a village to raise a brainchild, guys. There are many types of reviewers who may be willing to crack down on the disorder you’ve overlooked. Chances are your manuscript has not earned the right to be unleashed upon society until it has received a second opinion.
5. Not dressing for success
Printing an ugly book might just be the equivalent of sending your child to picture day with a stained t-shirt. Don’t do it—that mistake will be permanent.
By now, everyone knows we really do judge books by their covers, but an overlooked aspect of your book’s aesthetic might be its size. Just because printing on the 8.5 x 11 sized paper is cheapest, doesn’t mean it’s wise. No one wants to read your novel if it is overwhelmingly text heavy, and no one is going to take it to the beach with them if it is the size of Montana.
We know you have a brilliant book idea. A couple quirks here and there wont hurt your manuscript, but don’t deliberately warp your brainchild.