Whether you’ve completed your first novel-length draft or your twentieth, penning those final words is a rush. You’ve dedicated an incredible amount of time and energy to your manuscript, and finally reaching the end of the story can be emotional and amazing. But it can leave you asking a simple question: What now? Learning what to do after writing a book can be an entirely new experience. Drafting doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the next steps in the process.
Understanding what to do after you finish writing a book is crucial to the quality of your finished manuscript. A draft only needs to exist, but to create a submission- or publication-ready manuscript, you need to complete a few more steps.
- After Writing a Book, What’s Next?
- Next Steps: Consider Your Goals for Your Book
- What to Do After Writing a Book
After Writing a Book, What’s Next?
Let’s review a few simple steps every writer should take after completing a draft so you won’t have to question what to do after writing a book. You’ll be prepared to take on the challenge of revising and strengthening this manuscript and your next ones.
1. Celebrate finishing your draft!
No matter where you are in your writing journey, completing a draft is a big accomplishment. Take a moment to celebrate. Share the news with friends and family who have supported you. Take a night off. Spend time doing things you enjoy—that you’ve probably been neglecting while drafting. You’ve earned it.
2. Let your manuscript rest.
Set your manuscript aside and let it rest for a predefined amount of time. This may be one month or six months. This time away will allow you to view the manuscript with fresh eyes when you begin editing. Try to avoid even thinking about your story while the manuscript is resting. This could be a good time to start another story or to simply take a break from writing and focus on other things.
3. Self-edit your book.
Now begins one of the most crucial components of the writing process: self-editing. Begin with high-level editing, making changes to aspects including plot, structure, and character. Then move on to low-level editing at the paragraph and sentence levels.
No matter how experienced you are, self-editing is critical to making your manuscript the best it can be. During the drafting process, you’re focused only on getting the words down. During self-editing, you’re helping your story align with your vision. Note that self-editing is crucial even if you plan to hire a professional editor. Thoroughly self-editing beforehand will result in a better final product and will keep professional editing costs down.
4. Recruit beta readers.
After you have self-edited to the best of your ability, send your clean and polished manuscript off to beta readers. The ideal beta reader is someone who reads and enjoys your genre. Many writers are willing to beta read in exchange for you beta reading their manuscript.
Try to find beta readers who have time to return the manuscript to you in an acceptable time frame, and remember that writers aren’t your only options for beta readers. At this state, you’re looking for reader-response input, so as long as the reader enjoys your genre, they could be a good fit.
5. Self-edit again.
After receiving beta feedback, self-edit again. Take your betas’ notes into consideration, but remember that you have the final say. Ideally, you’ve received feedback from five or six betas, so you know that an issue that the majority of betas detected is likely something you need to address.
Next Steps: Consider Your Goals for Your Book
After you have self-edited based on beta feedback, you should have a strong, clean manuscript you are proud of. You have done everything you can do to prepare this manuscript for the world. Now it’s time to consider your goals for your manuscript.
What to Do After Writing a Book If You Plan to Publish Traditionally
If you plan to submit to small presses or query literary agents, pay careful attention to the revision and self-editing process. Your manuscript should be the best it can be before you submit.
If you hire a professional editor, prioritize developmental editing or a manuscript critique to make sure your story shines. You’re likely to undergo additional rounds of revisions and editing with your agent and/or publisher.
After your editing process is complete, you will begin researching agents or publishers you believe would be interested in your book. Take the time to learn how to write a strong query letter. It doesn’t matter how fantastic your book is if the query doesn’t make them want to read it.
What to Do After Writing a Book If You Plan to Self-Publish
For independent authors, the professional editing process is likely to be more involved. A full editing process for indie authors typically includes developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading.
If you are self-publishing, you are the author and the publisher. That means you have plenty of steps ahead of you! In addition to a full editing process, indie authors handle their own cover design, interior layout, blurb writing, and marketing. They also need to secure their own ISBNs and determine which publishing platforms best align with their goals.
That’s a hefty order, and most authors don’t have the skills to complete all of these tasks at a professional level—really, who does? That’s one of the most common reasons authors choose to have our team help them through the process. We provide guidance while supporting authors with an experienced, specialized team.
What to Do After Writing a Book
Remember how much time and energy you have already invested. It can be tempting to type “the end” and call it a day, but putting in the extra effort after completing your draft can be the difference between a subpar finished product and a bestseller.
No matter what path you take and no matter how it works out, be proud of the time and dedication you invested in your story. And know that you are one step closer to achieving the dreams you have for your writing career.