Writing a book is hard! Even now that I have an actual publishing date, I am even more stressed than I was when I was writing my book. Now, if you are in the middle of writing your first book or you are getting close to what you would consider “done”. Then this is the post for you! This is all about what to do after your first draft is done.
Writing a book can be a love hate relationship. There are many times when you might have almost given up, and just tossed the whole thing aside. You’ve gone through a lot with your characters and now as you finish your first draft you are just hoping someone someday will read it.
Finishing A First Draft is Huge, Be Proud of Yourself!
You’ve finished your first draft and you are wondering what’s next! Before we get to that, you need to take a moment to breathe and to be proud of yourself. YOU WROTE A BOOK!!
The amount of words and pages you have put down is a huge accomplishment. There are a lot of people who dream of writing a book, and who hope that they are able to write a book one day. That day is today for you. You can officially say that you finished writing the first draft of your first book. After you’ve celebrated and given yourself a pat on the back you have a few more steps.
Now, Put Your Draft Away For 3 Months!
After you’ve finished writing your first draft, you need to get it away from you. You have poured your blood, sweat and tears into it, and you are so invested you won’t be able to notice things that need to change. After I wrote my first draft I put my book, Insolation, away for almost a full year. This is because I could no longer see my main characters motivation, nor could I see where changes need to be made. A part of me thought the whole thing was awful and the other thought it was the best thing I had ever written. After setting your book aside for a while, when you go back through your first draft you will be able to see everything you want to change. In some cases, you won’t be able to believe what you wrote, both in a good way and a bad way.
Read Your First Draft and Figure Out What You Want To Change
After your book has sat there collecting online file dust, and seemingly disappearing into your “date created” folder. You need to take some time and read your book. You need to remember the little things you wrote and the big events you created. You want to read it with fresh eyes and see what you think.
I’ll tell you, when I started writing a second draft, I just started cutting, adding and changing. There were so many things that weren’t polished or even near enough complete. I had written chapters I thought were amazing but really led nowhere in the story, and I also had things that left the story with a million dead ends.
Write Your Next Few Drafts!
I say next few, because you won’t be done after your second draft, or your third, or your fourth. You will be done when you know you’re done, and even then, you won’t be. I wrote probably ten drafts of Insolation before I thought it was good enough to start sending out. I started by sending it to agents, thinking that was the way to do it. 30 emails later, I got one rejection and a whole lot of nothing. This is when I realized something was still not right, and then I changed everything. I changed my novel Insolation from first person to third person, and added an additional 20000 words. Sheesh, did I ever think I was done after the first draft?
Make Sure Your Manuscript is Formatted Properly
After you think you have a final (read: 10th) draft and a completed manuscript. You need to make sure that everything is formatted properly. From what I’ve read there is nothing that makes throwing out your manuscript easier than having it in a weird format with an odd format. So, if you decided to write your book in comic sans, just stop and switch it to ariel. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE will thank you.
Figure Out Your Market and Genre
There are tonnes of publishers, agents and ways to publish a book. Whether you are planning to self-publish or you are planning on going through a traditional publisher, you need to know some things about your book. Research where your story fits into the market, and what people in that market are looking for. You want to have a clear vision of where your book will sell, because even the best story needs to be marketed in order to sell. No one is going to pay for your book to be published if they don’t know how it will make them money.
Write Your Publishing Materials
Now that you know where your book will fit, and you think it is ready to start the publishing process, you need to write a few more things. First, you will need a query letter! This is a short email or letter that will explain who you are, what your book is about and it will have a hook that will make the publisher want to read more. Then you will want to write both a one page and a ten page synopsis.
You might be reading this and thinking to yourself, that’s a lot of writing! But, if you have these materials already created prior to starting to look for agents or publishers, you will thank yourself. When you have these prepared it is super easy to send out an email to your desired person.
Decide Between Getting an Agent or a Publisher
There is a strict rule in the publishing industry, only query your book to either agents or publishers. You don’t want to go for both. Also, you only want to query one book at a time!
After you decide if you want to get an agent, or go straight to a publisher, then you are almost ready to start querying!
Start Sending Out Your Book
Now, the last step, is the time consuming one. You are going to start researching and Googling for publishers or agents in your genre. Then you need to read their submission guidelines to the tee, and follow them perfectly. Even a small slip up might cost you a reply! You want to only submit if they are actually accepting, and you want to follow their rules. This is no time to do what you want!!
GOOD LUCK!! YOU GOT THIS!