Ever watch someone (or yourself) struggle to make a fire, someone who perhaps doesn’t make fires regularly? Was there a period of time where you doubted if the fire would ever start? Or maybe there were brief moments of yellow flame that ended up extinguishing into a smoky wisp due to poor thermal mechanics.
Sometimes that’s what writing is like in terms of gathering readers. You write for months and think it’s ready, send it out to the world only to gather brief sparks of readers and then… nothing. The fire went out as the sound of crickets has replaced the crackling embers you had hoped for. Try lighting it again. One match, two matches, sulfur in your nose, three matches, blow… still not catching. Hmm… what to do now?
There are times when an overhaul of the book and campfire will be needed. Not to worry, most everything that matters is there but just needs major tweaking. Ruthless editing, dryer kindling, better dialog, more air flow, critique groups, scout manual, fewer words, smaller logs, less redundancy, more stoking… and it might take a short period of time or a long one. But sometimes it simply has to be done. This is what separates the master fire builders from the hordes of would-be-writers, a willingness to do whatever it takes to get that baby roaring.
How will you know when your book is ready? When you put it out there and absolute strangers contact you to let you know how quickly they burned through it and how it mesmerized them while warming their hearts.
Stick with it and remember; Rome wasn’t built in a day but it burned in 5.