What To Do Once You Have Finished Your Novel

By on December 28, 2015
What To Do Once You Have Finished Your Novel - Writer's Life.org

Finishing your book is a massive achievement, and there is no denying that when you have finally got your entire story written down it is a pretty special moment. No doubt you will feel elated, excited, and proud. Actually getting to the finish line is quite impressive - there are many writers out there who never make it, so it is definitely worth patting yourself on the back, and taking a moment to bask in the glory of having achieved something very special.

Once you have felt sufficiently smug, and given yourself just the right amount of praise it is good to then become very realistic, because despite having finished your novel there is still a lot of work to be done!

First drafts of novels are usually astonishingly different form the final manuscripts that are ready to be sent off to a publisher. In fact it is fair to say that first drafts are often a bit rubbish! However it is important to recognise that this is OK, that it is almost impossible to write a perfect first draft, and you are likely to read your manuscript over and over again, not just correcting punctuation and spelling errors, but re writing entire scenes, adding in new ones and taking your story in whole new directions.

One thing to remember is that there has to be a point where you say ‘enough is enough.’ Once you get into the re drafting stage it can be very difficult to let go, and you run the risk of continuing to endlessly tweak your novel, never quite feeling ready to send it off. There is also the danger of changing your story for the sake of it and ending up with a book with glaring errors in the plot, so do bear that in mind and remember that an editor will be able to overlook small errors, and will be able to see if a book has promise so just know it doesn’t have to be flawless, and trust that you have a good story.

Before you approach agents or publishers get feedback from people you trust, and by this we don’t necessarily mean people who love you and are going to tell you your book is great! You need feedback from a range of people whose opinion you respect and who will be able to happily give you constructive criticism. If your friends and family can’t help, there are plenty of writing forums online where you can get feedback from your peers who won’t be afraid to hold back, and will honestly critique your work.

Another way to work on your book is by reading it through aloud. Having to do this will help to highlight when sentences are clumsy. Recording your novel being read aloud will also increase its sales potential, as releasing it as a podcast or audio book means it will reach more people.

Once you have your final manuscript you need to know what to do with it. Stepping into the world of book publishing is challenging, and in order to give yourself the best chance you need to do your research and understand the best route for you. Exploring all the different possibilities, be it self-publishing, digital, or physical, and deciding whether you want to look for an agent or go to publishers directly - there is so much to learn and explore, and while it can feel daunting at times, it is also filled with possibility and excitement.

Remember nowadays authors are expected to do a lot more self marketing then in previous times. This is great if you are proactive as means there are plenty of ways for you to start building interest in your novel. If you can prove to a publisher that there is some hype surrounding your novel already, there is a greater chance of them being willing to take it on. Use social media to start building a fan base, write an interesting blog about your writing journey, and reach out to influential readers who might be interested in your type of book then ask them to read, review and share it if they enjoy it.

Put yourself out there and do some public readings of your work. You can find out about opportunities to do this in towns and cities near you. Many pubs, cafe’s and bars host literary evenings and so get in touch with them and read excerpts of your work to audiences and try to build a following and some momentum before your book is released.

The wonderful thing about finishing your novel is that there are plenty of things you can do to increase the chances of generating interest in it and it being picked up by a publisher. Even if it doesn’t, with the many self publishing and marketing opportunities on offer you still have every chance of making your book a success. Remember there is lots to do, but if you are willing to put the effort in then there is no reason your book can’t do well.

Bethany Cadman -contributor

Bethany Cadman -contributor

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