Finally! After months- or even years! You have finally finished your book! But, what’s next! As an author myself- I already know the joy you felt and probably still feel knowing that all of that hard work and long nights finally produced a work of art to be proud of. All your thoughts and creative visions locked forever between the binders of your book, but now what? Was that it? Again… What’s next?
Write, Rewrite, Read, Repeat
Unfortunately, life as an author never ends. And hopefully, for your well-being, you didn’t think you were finished with that book just because you added that last period! Why? Because now is when the hard work begins.
There is more work to do on this book before you send it or advertise it anywhere. Think about this. If you took your car to the mechanic to have brake work done, would you want them to return the car to you without test driving it first? Although they finished the job- just as you have your book, wouldn’t you want the mechanic to test the vehicle to make sure everything is as perfect as possible and in working order before releasing it?
The same goes for your newly finished book. Before releasing your manuscript to a potential publisher or putting it on Amazon for millions of people to buy. You must first do a test drive to make sure all of the kinks are worked out. So, what’s next? Next is, now, you must read your book from beginning to end until all of the kinks are worked out. This will ensure that your book is as perfect as possible before releasing it. And sometimes, that means more than once. Why? Because writing is rewriting and reading is rereading, but before we get into that- there is a vital step that you must take first.
Rest and Reset
Finishing your book was no small feat. So, before anything- it’s time to give yourself and your book at least a couple of weeks rest from the writing process. Jumping straight into edit mode after completing your book will not give you the perspective you will need during the editing process. Right now, you don’t know what’s good or what’s bad about your book.
After all, your perspective is that you have written the best book ever! However, the reality is that- more than likely, you may discover countless structural issues throughout your work. There will be areas that may need to be deleted, added, and remember; writing is rewriting, so there may also be areas that need to be written from scratch to guarantee you are putting out your best work.
So, after your timeout to regroup and regain perspective- what’s next?
Read Your Book
Read your book from the beginning to the end. This will give an entirely new perspective on what you have written. Since you have had a break from your book you will be shocked at what you may find. While reading your book, look for anything that might be missing or may need to be written over. Maybe after reading, you may have some new ideas on where you want a certain section of the book to go now.
Take notes when reading your book on what you may want to change. I find it useful to use a highlighter as well as a red pen to quickly mark areas that I want to edit and reference those pages with a page tab for easy access when editing. Look for redundancy or anything that isn’t needed within your text. Make notes of what is good, what is bad, and what may need some work.
Although this process may be time-consuming. It will give you the perspective that you will need when it comes to knowing what changes needs to be made. It will also save time and make creating your next draft much easier. By the time it’s over with- as author Mary Malone’s quote suggests. I want you to be so sick of your own book that you never want to lay eyes on it again!
So, what’s next?
I can’t say this enough- writing is rewriting the same as reading is rereading. And the best way to get through this is to put back on your writer’s cap as soon as you feel like you have taken the break that fits you the best- whether that be a two-week break or a two-month break.
Don’t worry though. There are many ways to make this process enjoyable even if you weren’t ready to read your work of art from beginning to end quite yet.
- Read Aloud: By reading aloud, nuances will stick out better than if you were to read quietly in your head.
- Record Yourself Reading: Some of us hate hearing ourselves talk, but this is one of the best ways to catch errors in our work. When writing, our brain tends to know what should be written- and how. However, the brain sometimes does not see what is actually written. By listening to yourself, you will be able to hear if your story is coming across as intended for your audience.
- Print Your Book: Printing off a hard copy of your book in a larger font will make it easier to spot errors that might be overlooked by just reading the print copy.
When editing your book- be aware that you may go through the dreaded writer’s block again since you may be coming up with new ideas. Just remember, you got through it many times before and you will get through it this time as well.
Structure Before Polish
As much as you are ready to polish up your reread manuscript and send it off- now is not the right time. At least not quite yet. Before we can put the finishing touches to your work- now is the time to go back over those notes and fix any structural issues.
After reading your book from beginning to end; you may be a bit caught off guard at how many sections were written differently than how you imagined it in your head. Maybe it is necessary to trim or cut out entire sections after finding holes when reading your book. This may sound drastic but it may be the best thing for the final draft. Again, writing is rewriting and as an author, this is a vital concept that you must embrace.
Maybe you will find now, after some time apart from your book- or after reading your book to its entirety that you want your protagonist and or antagonist to have different roles. Or, it could simply be that you will have to rewrite some sections that are necessary but were broken. Your vision when writing your book may be slightly different now after reading it- and that’s ok.
Remember, writing is rewriting, and having a sound structure is important before releasing your book to anyone. This step in the process is not about fixing typos or grammatical errors. Instead, it’s about fixing and repairing what is already written. This step is about envisioning how you want your story to come across to your audience and not stopping until your book is perfect.
Time to Polish
Finally! You have all your structural issues worked out so, what’s next? Next is the time to polish your newly written manuscript. Now is the time to focus on those typos, grammatical errors, and even bring some people in to give some opinions. These people could be friends, beta readers, and even editors. However, it is important to note that you don’t want to bring anyone else in too soon on this process.
The reason is that you want to make sure that your vision remains your own and not someone else’s. Bringing in people too soon will allow their vision to supersede yours. Or, it could make you second guess your own story. Your goal is to get honest feedback- but after the story is written. Luckily, not only will outsiders give you valuable feedback, but they can also act as a second set of eyes for errors that you may have missed.
So, what’s next?
So, now that you have feedback and have put all the finishing touches on your book, you might be asking again- what’s next. Well, what’s next is coming up with a strategy on who to approach and how to approach them.
There are many approaches that can be taken to get your newly revised book in front of not only your audience but also editors and publishers. Joining writing communities like Wattpad will allow you to post sections of your book to receive feedback from both writers and readers. This priceless feedback if taken with an open mind will help you see your book from another perspective. Regardless of if the feedback is negative or positive.
Another great approach is to take a trip to your local library or Barnes & Noble. Let me explain. By finding books in the same genre as yours could be the secret to your success. Read the acknowledgments, and who the publishers and editors are of those books. This could direct you to who you need to get in contact with to take you and your book to the next level.
Making a list of this vital information could make the difference between success and possible failure in this field. However, traditional publishing is no longer needed in order to be successful in this day in age. At this point in the process- self- publishing is also an option to get your work in front of your awaiting audience.
But, if you choose to send your manuscript off to an agent or a publishing company- there are some things that you may want to get together. You will need a cover letter, the synopsis of your book, and at least the first three chapters for review. Again, do your research before sending your hard work just anywhere to avoid scams. The last thing you want now is for your hard work to be stolen. The good news is that; either route you choose to go will be a success if you follow the above steps.
Remember, writing is rewriting. Anything that is written on a page can be written over and written better. If you are a new author- the excitement that you experience from your first finished book will be intoxicating. However, before you release it to the public it must be in its best possible version.
Lastly, if you go the traditional publishing route just keep in mind that publishers need writers. So, don’t get discouraged by the politics that may come with that route. But, if you go the self-publishing route just know that most of the hard work will fall in your hands. However, with this route- the vision will be your own and not someone else’s.
So, now that you have finished your book. Rest, reset, and read your book to fix what is broken before even thinking about sending it anywhere. Writing is rewriting, so that is what you will need to do once you finish your masterpiece! Hopefully, this article has helped in your journey- see you on the stands soon!