Know why it’s called a first draft? Because there should be a second, a third, however many you need to make your book perfect.
So many authors seem to think once they’ve written the first draft, they’re done. I understand why — the exhilaration of finishing, finally, is a great feeling. The exhaustion of starting up again, again, is not.
And it’s your baby. Like all good parents, you think your baby is perfect just the way it is. Suggesting otherwise makes me a mean ole editor who doesn’t love your baby.
You have to step back and dump the emotion. This is an endeavor, a work in progress. Nothing you do is perfect the first time you do it. Practice makes perfect, right? And rewrites make a book perfect.
You should never finish a book and send it straight to the editor (or worse, the agent). It floors me when I see simple errors in a book, little grammatical things everyone knows aren’t correct. It tells me the author hasn’t read their own work, hasn’t polished and questioned and had friends give them an honest opinion and rewritten and thought about it and figured out problems and rewritten again. One or two little errors are one thing — we see what we expect to see. But when a book is full of them, I know this is a first draft. The author didn’t care enough to read their own work.
Since I’m freelance, I fix it. But guys, if you’re submitting to agents, and you’re leaving those little clues to your lack of effort, they will decline no matter how good the story is, because it tells them something about your work ethic. Publishing is tough, it’s emotionally painful, and it requires great stamina. If you can’t even reread your own work, why should an agent (or an editor)?
No one is a good enough writer to write a perfect first draft. NO ONE. If you are skimping on subsequent drafts, you’re cheating yourself, and you’re selling your work short. You’re guaranteeing your book isn’t going to be as good as it could be. You’re being a neglectful parent.