Are you writing a book? Did you finish the first draft? Doesn’t that feel amazing?!
I’ve tried my hand at writing several novels. I actually was on book three of a fantasy series I was writing as a child, but that’s disappeared to the computer ether…
But in the fall of 2018, I finished writing the first draft of the novel I have firm plans to publish. What did I do afterward that’s moved me even closer to publication?
Want a sneak peek at my writing? I wrote a short story this Halloween!
My celebration consisted of me insisting everyone I knew gave me a high-five. Maybe I should have cracked a bottle of wine or something? But I had to take a moment to revel in the fact that I’d written 60,000 words into a passable story!
Forget about it.
This was on purpose. I wanted the next time I came back to my novel to be with fresh eyes, so I left it for about a month. While that was percolating, I used that time to start working on a first draft of a second novel.
This first read through was meant to reacquaint myself with the novel and to write down any big-problem fixes I needed to make. This was an eye-opening experience as it made me finally realize that first drafts are absolute garbage and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. A novel is a massive piece of work, and there’s no way it’s going to come out right the first time you try to write it.
I made the big fixes – moving scenes around, inserting scenes, fleshing out characters and the plot.
Forget about it again.
Forgetting about the novel a whole other time might have been overkill, but I also liked the break from editing. There are some writers who say their favourite part of being a writer is editing and I just can’t get on board with that line of thinking.
This round of editing was about smaller stuff – deeper description, adjusting dialogue, word changes. You want to save this kind of editing for after the big scene moves/changes/cuts so you don’t put in any unnecessary work. Imagine editing a scene to the very last detail only to realize you have to cut it later!
Find beta readers.
This was the scariest part by far. Finding beta readers marked the first time I shared my work with anyone who wasn’t my brother (He’s a writer, too!) and hitting send on those emails was a whirlwind of mixed emotions. I wrote a blog post on it if you’re interested. But I was ultimately extremely happy that I had the guts to move forward with this step – it meant receiving helpful feedback from people who weren’t so close to the story like me!
I sent my novel to 3 people, but only received feedback from 1. Considering they were doing me a favour, I called it a win.
Edit again again.
Got some feedback. Took another look at my novel while keeping it in mind.
Find one more beta reader.
One isn’t enough. So I found one more. It was easier this time, and surprising to see how differently they felt about my novel from the first beta reader.
Edit. Yep that’s four drafts.
Like I said, I’m not the kind of writer that prefers the editing part over the initial draft writing, but I understand it’s part of the deal if I want a shot at getting this novel published and sold. Besides, this round of editing wasn’t nearly as intensive as the first and second.
Submit the novel to a manuscript program.
In my home province, we have the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, which has a program that allows for writers to send in their manuscripts to the guild to have it read by a published author whose identity remains a secret. For $75 I sent in my manuscript and promptly received 3 pages of type-written feedback. It was absolutely worth it and also extremely annoying because all that feedback sent me into another (not unexpected) vigorous round of editing.
One more edit. (I’m on this step)
This is where you’ll find me right now. I wrote up a game plan for which feedback I wanted to take (Did you know you don’t have to take all feedback? You know your story best.), made a list for me to check as I read through every section and chapter once again, and am working through the novel slowly but surely.
I signed up for a Pitching Mastermind course with Paperback Kingdom. I’ve taken a course with her before and she gives really valuable advice and information. Since I’m hoping to publish traditionally, I know I’ll need to have a really great pitch for my novel in order to win over agents and publishers. Which brings me to the next step…
Pitch to agents and/or publishers.
A precursor to this step will be to research appropriate agents and publishers. Once I’ve gathered up a list of places to send the novel to, let the pitching begin! This will be me trying to convince agents to take me on as a client (agents have more knowledge about writer contracts and a better relationship with publishing houses than little old me) or convince a publishing house to publish my book.
- What it was like sending My Manuscript to Beta Readers
- 5 Things to Do to Feel Like a Writer
- 7 Things to Do When You Don’t Feel Like Writing
Of course, there’s generally no one right way to do anything. But this process has been working for me and it’s brought me farther along the journey to publication than I’ve ever been.
Speaking of publication, I have published an ebook through the blog all about Self-Care! Click here if you’re interested!
Want to follow along on my journey to (hopefully!) publication? Sign up for the bi-weekly email newsletter!
Are you in the process of writing something right now? Have you finished a piece? What have you done afterwards?
Enjoy the journey!