I’ve come to the conclusion that doing much more editing has a marginal utility approaching zero, and possibly has negative value to me. Yes, spending more time working with my editor might improve the writing slightly, but I think the ROI in terms of sales or time isn’t acceptable. The writing is good enough for most people, and more dollars spent on it won’t measurably increase sales but will cost cash I don’t have and delay the launch, while more minutes spent on it will only rise my frustration levels and will decrease time spent writing new stuff. So I’m now working to wrap up the details of formatting, cover art, other art, Amazon stuff, and other details I didn’t even know existed before I started this thing. Target is before the end of the month. Fingers crossed, but it looks like the home stretch is here.
2 thoughts on “Marginal utility”
You’re quite correct. As programmers know, the search for the “one last bug” can keep you busy for years, with little or no practical benefit. It does depend a lot on the intended use of what you’re writing; a medical textbook would want more thorough proofreading than a novel, just as a program for an autopilot needs more debugging than a computer game.
Not just “finding bugs.” My editor kept suggesting how to totally rephrase things so that it “read more smoothly,” etc. She didn’t just want to “fix bugs,” she was trying to push it well past “good enough” toward “excellent writing” on my dime, seemingly without regard to how long it took. “Good enough” isn’t good enough, if you know what I mean. I was getting zero positive feedback in any way from her. When I realized that she’d completely rewritten the hell out of a paragraph, and after looking it over carefully I decided I liked my original version a lot better, I figured “that’s it!” It’s well past needing work on the basics of “clear, correct, consistent,” so the gains at this point just are not worth it to me. If the book does REALLY well, I can always issue a “revised 2nd edition” if it’s warranted… but that’s after it is paying for itself.