What To Do After You’ve Finished Your First Draft?

By on November 12, 2020

Are you wondering what to do after you've finished your first draft? Read on to find out.

Finishing your first draft is a time of celebration - many writers don't make it this far. However, your first draft is just the beginning of your author's journey, and now is the time where it is so important not to pause for too long, for this is where the real work begins!

Many authors are so focused on getting their first draft out that they can flounder when they've finished. It is such a huge effort to get your full story on paper - no matter how rough, the idea of editing and redrafting, not to mention preparing your book for submission of publication, seems both overwhelming and exhausting.

The key is to make a robust plan and to then take it step by step, so you don't feel as though you have too much on your plate at once. It's also imperative that you don't rush. You may be itching to get your book out there and seen by the world, but what you do next will make all the difference to your success, so be patient and thorough, and you will reap the rewards.

What to do after you've finished your first draft? Our top tips

So when you finally write the last few lines of your first draft, what do you need to do next?

Take a breath

Finishing your first draft is a big deal and should be recognized as such. So take a minute to breathe, congratulate yourself, and leave your manuscript to rest so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes when you are ready. It's fine to have a little break and to celebrate, but don't wait too long to get back to work. 

Make an editing schedule

Just as you had to carve out time to write your novel, you also need to carve out time to edit it. Make an editing schedule and stick to it just as strictly as you did when you were writing your first draft.

Divide your editing into sections

Editing an entire novel can seem like a mammoth job, so to avoid feeling overwhelmed, divide your editing into different sections and work through them one by one. Some areas you could include are:

Structure and pacing

Character development

Fact and sense checking

Spelling and grammar

Reading your novel aloud

Identifying an excellent professional editor and sending your manuscript to them

Prepare your submission

Now is also an excellent time to consider whether you will submit to agents and publishers or self publish. Either way, there will be some prep work to do. You need to write your synopsis, draft query letters, format your manuscript, write an author profile and make a list of publishers and agents )if this is the route your choose) as well. 

Create and begin to implement your marketing strategy

Whether you go down the traditional publishing route or not, you need a robust marketing plan to help make your book a success. Some things to consider should include; 

setting up and populating your author website,

creating your social media platforms and updating them regularly,

researching your readers and creating content that they will find valuable, 

creating advertising and PR materials, 

and reaching out to bloggers and reviewers.

By following the above, you can understand what to do after you've finished your first draft. Follow this advice and you'll slowly but surely move towards having your complete novel ready to submit or publish. Good luck!

So now you know what to do after you've finished your first draft, why not check out more tips about editing your novel?

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bethany cadman
Bethany Cadman - bethanycadmancreates.com

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