Starting a book is easy. Finishing it…well, that’s an entirely different story.

That’s why, regardless of the quality of the writing, I admire every author who finishes their book. It’s that hard.

But writing in today’s publishing landscape requires so much more than finishing a manuscript.

Don’t just finish–finish well.

Perhaps you’ve asked the same questions I did when I first started out as a writer 24 years ago:

·       What makes a good manuscript?

·       How do I know if my manuscript is good enough?

·       What are my chances of selling a lot of copies?

·       Where do I begin to promote my book?

I could go on and on with the questions that ran through my head.

When you wrestle with questions like these, where can you go for answers?

Writing is NOT and Individual Sport

Here’s what I learned: you can write in isolation, but EVERY successful writer hones their craft in community.

What I mean is, you need other people to help you grow as a writer so can release that life-changing book that’s ruminating inside you.

You need a professional copyeditor

At this basic level, every successful author relies on the services of a professional copyeditor. Notice that I said a “professional” copyeditor, not an English major or your aunt who studied journalism in college.

In the next week or so, we’re releasing a book written by multi-million bestselling author Phillip Yancey. It’s a dream come true to work with him. But understand: every book Phillip has written required the services of a professional copyeditor.

At a minimum, your copyeditor:

  • Cleans up the grammatical errors
  • Flags problem areas in your manuscript
  • Conforms your manuscript to the Chicago Manual of Style (the style manual for traditional publishing
  • Prepares the manuscript for typesetting

The more you learn from your copyeditor, the better writer you’ll become.

You (may) need a book coach

In traditional publishing, we call this person a “developmental editor”. Your book coach evaluates your manuscript and helps you look at the forest, or the trees, or both.

Your book coach is your sounding board, shoulder to cry on, and your yoda.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” 

At Illumify, our book coaches equip authors so they won’t need us to write their next book.

You need a writers group

A writers group is a community of writers who meet on a regular basis to encourage one another and grow in their craft.

At the moment, I participate in two groups. My first group is composed of professional writers whose works have been traditionally published. We talk about the industry, brainstorm ideas for books and book titles, and serve as a support system amidst the ups and downs of life.

My other group is composed of writers with a varied range of experience. Every month, a speaker addresses our group about topics like building your platform, writing a book from start to finish, or common writing mistakes.

Even though I make a living as a writer and publisher, I need both.

Other writers participate in critique groups (just so you know, these aren’t “critical” groups). In a critique group, writers bring samples of their work to their group, and together, they discuss how they can strengthen their skills.

You need to attend writers conferences

Writers conferences are a buffet of resources and networks. When I started writing, I attended every conference I could. I wanted to learn how I could improve my writing, how the publishing industry works, and I wanted to meet people just like me.

Whenever I can, I still attend writers conferences. Lisa Hawker, one of amazing Illumify team members, whose books have appeared on the USA Today Top 20 list, attends writers conferences as if she were just starting out. And she has over 25 years under her belt.

Over the last six years, I’ve evaluated 500+ manuscripts. Quite often, I ask the writer, “Do you ever go to writers conference? Are you plugged into a writers group?”

But truth be told, I usually know their answer by reading their manuscript.

Every quality manuscript I have read was written by a person who either attended a writers group on a regular basis or attended multiple writers conferences.


All that to say, I know sharing your manuscript can be risky. Scary, even. But finding the right people to walk with you down this long and winding road we call “writing,” will help you finish well!

We have book coaches and copyeditors who can help you find and refine your message. If you’re interested, let’s talk.