So, You've Typed THE END ... Now What?Here's a Guide to Your Next Steps.
Advice for all authors…
I love following various writing groups on social media. I’m always amazed at how often some variation “I’ve finished my book. Now what do I?” is asked. In this post, I’ll try to answer the question in very broad strokes. It is up to you to do the legwork!
First…congratulations! You’ve accomplished something many people dream about, but few follow through with. You’ve written your first book.
Rewrite and self-edit until you are satisfied.
Before you consider trying to go the traditional publishing route or the independent one–take a step back and then rewrite and edit your book to make it as close as you can to your vision of it. Please see my Rewriting & Self-Editing Guides for fiction and nonfiction for one way to go about rewriting. Definitely run the manuscript through a grammar editor like Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid. Do a read-aloud pass either by reading it yourself or having Word read it to you using the Read Aloud function on the Review tab.
Assemble your beta team.
Ideally, you want 3 to 5 readers who are passionate and well-versed in your genre as well as willing to give you detailed feedback. This process can take a while. Many authors want to use free beta readers (and there are some fantastic ones out there), but you might find you need at least a couple professionals to give you in-depth analysis of your book.
Traditional publishing or self-publishing?
While your beta team is working hard, think about whether you want to go traditional or self-published. If traditional, agent or straight to prospective publishers? Small publishers or large publishers? If self-published, Amazon exclusively or a wider distribution? Research all options, and decide what is best for you or which avenue you want to try first.
Review feedback ... and revise again.
Review the beta analyses as they come back. Ask for clarifications as needed. Decide if more rewrites are needed. A good beta team can make or break the success of a book. A beta reader, ideally, is as passionate about your genre as you are. Take their messages to heart, and strive to make your book more appealing to your reading public with their advice.
Which Path are You Taking?
Decide whether you plan to approach agents first or publishers directly.
You can go either route, but you will most likely have success with a publisher if you go through an agent.
Research agents and/or publishers.
Take the time to research the next person or place you will be sending your manuscript. Agents will specialize in different genres. Publishers, especially smaller presses that may be more receptive to a first-time author, typically specialize in different books (for larger publishers, they will have different imprints). See what each publisher has put out lately; look at the backlist as well. Do you see any trends? Is your book in line with the publisher’s vision of itself and its past and current offerings?
Make your submission pretty.
Take the time to craft a good query letter. As agents and publishers initially only look at a sample of the book and a synopsis, consider hiring a copyeditor to correct and add a final polish to your first 10,000 words. Not only will you put your best foot forward when it counts, but you will also get a sense of things to improve in the rest of your manuscript.
Submit your manuscript package ... and wait.
Once you’ve decided that your query letter, sample chapters, synopsis, and outline are in the best shape you can make them … send the package on its way.
The First 10K Edit
Need to polish the first part of your story for an agent or publisher? Want copyediting for your self-published book but are unsure if you need it or if it will be worth the expense?
Try my special package meant just for these cases. I will fully copyedit or line edit your first 10,000K words and give you feedback about your strengths and weakness that you can use for the rest of the manuscript.
If you’re ready to go ahead, click the Buy Now button below. Or contact me through the form below to discuss your project.
Consider submitting the manuscript for an editorial evaluation.
Beta readers are a fantastic resource that allows you to see your book from a reader’s perspective. But what would an editor think? For a couple hundred dollars, you can find out. An experienced editor will find things your beta readers missed and will give you more details about all those elements of fiction that are so important to a story, as well as suggestions to help improve your story.
Hire a copyeditor.
Yes, copyediting is expensive, but it is crucial to the success of your book. No matter how wonderful your storytelling, readers will shred your writing to pieces in reviews on Amazon and Goodreads if they find too many grammar and punctuation errors or too many inconsistencies. A good copyeditor, while not perfect, will save you from this kind of embarrassment and help you put the best version of your work forward. You’ve put in a lot of time to bring your work to this point; invest now in its future success. At the very least, hire a copyeditor to polish the first 10,000 words of your draft, which will give you insight into your most common errors and guide you in making your own edits to your manuscript.
While waiting for the copyedit, work on other book details.
Didn’t get your cover done while waiting for beta reader feedback, now’s the time! Where will you publish? Physical copy or eBook only … or both? If you haven’t started thinking about your marketing and launch, now’s the time for that, too! There are lots of great blogs and websites out there with book marketing tips. If you belong to Kindle Unlimited on Amazon, you’ll find quite a few you can download with the subscription. Courses exist, too, that can give you help with launching your book and building your author platform.
Revise your draft.
When your manuscript returns from your copyeditor, the real fun begins! Look at every change made or suggested and figure out what you agree with. What best suits the story you are trying to tell? Even if you see lots of red and many comments, the author-editor relationship is not meant to be adversarial. When I edit, I try to keep the final reader in mind; I edit not only for grammar and usage but also flow, consistency, and clarity so that the reader is not pulled from the story by the mechanics of the writing itself.
Consider professional proofreading.
If you or your copyeditor have made a lot of changes in your manuscript, consider a final round of professional proofreading to put a final shine on your manuscript. New errors can be introduced into each version of your manuscript. If you don’t want to invest in this step, at least go over your manuscript one final time after you’ve been away from it a week or more. Read it aloud or use Microsoft Word’s Read Aloud function on the Review Panel to have your word processor read it to you! Hearing your words allows you to find mistakes that your eye misses.
Pull the elements together and publish.