I’ve finished writing my book, what do I do now?
I’m often asked this question, particularly by new writers who have finished writing their first manuscript and are unsure about what to do next.
I’ve recently completed the next draft of my YA thriller, The Chat Room, so I thought that now might be a good time to address this ‘what next’ issue on my blog.
Before you even consider sending your manuscript to a publisher or an agent, it will need to be edited so it sparkles. Don’t be impatient. Don’t waste your chance to impress – make your book the best it can be before you send it out.
STEP 1 – BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Revisit the start. I find that I write myself into my books, that I don’t quite have the character’s voice right when I start a manuscript, but by the end of it I know exactly who he or she is. So I always go back and check to make sure that the start is consistent with the rest of the manuscript – that my character’s voice is unique and strong right from the first page.
STEP 2 – EDITING
People edit in so many different ways. I’ve blogged about this before so rather than go over old ground, here are some previous posts that you might find helpful.
Some articles on editing:
Online editing resources
There are also some online resources to help you with the editing process.
1. Self Editing Tips and Techniques Webinar – July 15 (US time) – July 16 (Melbourne time) THIS IS TOMORROW
In fact, tomorrow at 3.00am Australian time, I’ll be attending this course through Writer’s Digest, How to Be Your Own Editor: Self-Editing Tips and Techniques from Editor and Revision Maven Harold Underdown.
If you’re interested in booking in, you’ll find out more here.
If you miss this course, don’t worry, I’m sure Harold will be offering other courses down the track.
2. Revise Your Novel in a Month
Literary agent, Jill Corcoran and Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson have joined forces to create A Path to Publishing which aims to increase writer’s understanding of concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.
They have developed a Revise Your Novel in a Month video series to assist writers with the editing process.
You can also follow Jill and Martha’s Facebook page.
STEP 3 – GETTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT READ BY OTHERS
When I’m happy with my manuscript I get someone else to read it. Even if you’re an experienced writer, it is difficult to distance yourself from your work enough to be objective – to identify things that need fixing.
I’m lucky to have an amazing critique partner, the talented and perceptive Alison Reynolds who I regularly exchange manuscripts with.
The right critique partner will be someone you can trust to be completely honest with you about your work. They will be someone who wants your success as much as they want their own.
You can find a critique partner by attending writer’s conferences, joining writer’s groups and organisations and networking online.
I’ve set up a page on this blog where you can find a critique partner. You just register your details and wait for someone to contact you, or you can contact someone whose details you see on the Find A Crit Buddy page. A number of successful writing partnerships have been formed here.
In the past I’ve paid hundreds of dollars in manuscript assessments or appraisals and to be honest, I don’t think it was money well spent. None of these assessments have led to books being published, and I haven’t come away from them feeling like I learnt a lot to apply to my next manuscript.
Having said that, I think that manuscript assessments can be good if you have something specific you want the assessor to look at – if you are having a particular issue with a manuscript.
But if you do decide to get an assessment done, here’s what I recommend:
1. Insist that the assessor be well published or have extensive editing experience in the genre and readership you are writing for.
2. Get a partial manuscript to start with so that you can see whether the assessor is doing what you need them to do – this means you don’t waste hundreds of dollars on an assessment from someone who just doesn’t ‘get’ your manuscript or isn’t providing the depth of analysis you need.
Mentorships are where you get an advisor who not only analyses your manuscript but they also guide you through the publishing process.
Mentorships are far more flexible than manuscript assessments, and a good mentor will not just help your manuscript, they will help you develop as a writer.
A mentor can also give you advice about where to send your manuscript and how to approach publishers.
In Australia, mentorships are available through the ASA (Australian Society of Authors), and you can also apply for professional development funding through CAL. I could not have done my SCBWI Nevada mentorship without their assistance. SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) is a global organisation and they offer mentorships and other professional development opportunities.
Once you are satisfied your manuscript is complete and perfect and you’ve had it read by people who concur, it’s time to send it off into the literary world. Good luck:)
If you have any other tips on what to do with your manuscript after it’s finished, please feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.
Happy writing and editing,