Bailey really messed things up this time. He did our year-end post already, making the next two days very anti-climactic by comparison. Talk about weak endings!
Luckily, in our Just Ask section, Julie described the completion of her newest novel and the recent popularity her book has received among some local readers. She wonders: So several people like what I wrote does that really mean squat in the grand scheme of publishing? How do you know when you're getting closer to publication?
Julie, Scott already gave you some good advice already. I couldn't help but say something too. And, funnily enough, the subject of trying to figure out when your novel is done is actually the very first blog post I did, back in January of this year--when edithroad was my one faithful follower! Check it out if you like.
My implied conclusion there was that an inner feeling told me I was done.
I think, as writers, one of the things we need to know about ourselves is our own habits. I'm the type of writer who always fidgets with my work, so to say that my book is done when I can't find anything more that I want to change would be naive of me. I'd say you need to discover whether or not you are the same way, or maybe the opposite, calling things done when you might realize that there is plenty more work you'd like to do on it. Being done with a book is more of a decision rather than an actual moment, and you need to get to a place where you can make that decision with a clear head.
Your other question was about the "grand scheme of publishing." For that, I'd also say you must look inside yourself. What EXACTLY are your goals? For example, how many readers would you need to have to really feel satisfied? I asked this in a past post, and may writers said that they weren't looking for big numbers, that they would be satisfied if they moved just one reader. If that's the case for you, then you really have to admit to yourself that you've reached that goal. To please 12 readers must be a thrill, and you shouldn't belittle that. You've brought your art to the world; you've made a difference! Some painters have probably been satisfied with far less success.
So, if I were you, I'd consider what you've done already as a great forward step. You've got readers, many of them, though, no, if you're trying to be a New York Times Bestseller, probably not enough yet, or not enough to know. But, you've written several novels before, and I trust that you have enough experience to be able to tell when you're done and what you want out of submitting to agents.