What to Do After You’ve Written a Book

Post Featured Image - What to do after you've written a book - 4 easy to follow steps (2)

You worked hard on your book baby. You’ve conquered those writing struggles. Staying up late, getting up early, pushing through writer’s block, and finally, you’ve finished. You’ve written a book! Congratulations!

And now breathe…

But, now the questions start hounding you. Beginning with, “I wrote a book! Now, what?”

I’ve created 4 simple steps to follow that lead you through the next part of the process.

What Do You Do After You’ve Written a Book?

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If this is your first book, or the first one you’ve actually finished, I’m sure you’ve got a hundred and one questions clamouring for answers.

Do I look into self-publishing?

Maybe it’s time I look for a literary agent?

Should I hire an editor to double-check my formatting?

Do I have to do all of this to get my book out there?

All of these questions are important parts of the writing and publishing process. However, you don’t need to do all of them right away.

In this article, I’ll break down the next steps you should focus on now (and which ones you could forget for a while, or not bother with at all).

As you’ve probably guessed, when you finish writing your book, you’re not actually finished. Sorry.

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In fact, finishing your book is just the beginning. And if this is your first time, you’re probably looking for advice on what to do next.

In this post, I’ll cover what comes after you write a book.

But before we talk about what you should do, let’s talk for a moment about what you should avoid after writing your book.

First, What You Shouldn’t Do After You’ve Written a Book

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New writers are usually eager to send off their books or short stories as soon as they finish writing. However, very few—if any—finished books are good books after a first draft.

For this reason, the first step you take after finishing a book is not to announce you’re done on social media before quickly heading to Kindle books or Amazon to self-publish it. Or is it rushing off to a publishing house or literary agency in search of representation.

There’s still work to be done!

You’re going to want to make some revisions before that first attempt, even if it’s a decent first draft, becomes a great book.

In a nutshell, here’s what to avoid after you write a book—for now.

Don’t send your book to a publisher.

Good writing is rewriting. If you want to get published, don’t send your book to any of the following people yet:

  • Agents
  • Acquisitions Editors
  • Publishers

Submitting your manuscript before it’s ready could lead to permanently burning a bridge. Some literary agents even have a policy that rejection of a manuscript is a rejection from the agency as a whole.

This is why literary agents will openly encourage writers to participate in programmes like NaNoWriMo, but also politely ask them to not send their manuscripts to them as soon as November ends.

Revising Needs to Happen First!

I know you’re excited about sharing your hard work, but there’s still a lot to do.

Don’t send your book to beta readers.

Beta readers, are people who read your book and give you feedback before you publish. Good beta readers can help transform your manuscript from mediocre to excellent.

However, beta readers are best used after you’ve worked out some of the kinks in your manuscript on your own first. Or else, you might get feedback that you’re not ready for, or that hurts your self-confidence as a writer.

We’ll talk about the best time to send your story to beta readers in a moment.

Don’t edit your book.

What most people do after they finish their book is going back to page one and start line editing from the beginning; fixing typos, correcting grammar, and polishing sentences until they shimmer.

This is a huge mistake.

Here’s the problem: after you finish your first draft, there’ll be major structural issues. There are going to be sections that need cutting, other sections that need to be written from scratch, and others that need replotting.

What happens when you realise you have to cut a section that you’ve devoted hours, or even days polishing? At best, you’ve just wasted a heck of a lot of time, and at worst you might be tempted to “just leave it in” because of the time you’ve spent on it.

Instead, I have a better system that will save you time and result in a better book at the end of the process.

Next Steps After You Write a Book

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Now that you know how to avoid the dangers, let’s talk about what you should do next after you’ve written the book.

I recommend these four steps.

1. Let Your Book Rest

What to do after you've written a book - Step 1. Let your book rest (1)

Not only do you need a break after you’ve written the book, but your book also needs one too.

This is because after you’ve finished writing, you have no perspective on it. You’re too close. You won’t have the objectivity to know what works well, what should be cut, what needs work, and what is fabulous and should be left alone.

Letting your book sit for a few weeks, even a month, gives you time to regain perspective and start to see your book for what it is — or what it can become.

If taking a break is hard for you, remember that working on your book doesn’t mean you have to stop writing or growing as an author.

If you’re feeling antsy, head out to your favourite coffee shop. Brainstorm new book ideas. Read your favourite published author’s books. Lose yourself in the latest bestseller. Listen to your favourite podcasts on writing.

If you want to see your whole book for what it is, you need to spend enough time away from it before picking it up again, this time with fresh eyes and a clear head.

2. Read Your Book

What to do after you've written a book - Step 2. Read your book from start to finish

Before you jump into editing mode, read your book from start to finish. This is the second step in gaining perspective on your book. While it is time-consuming, it’ll save you countless hours in the long run because you’ll see exactly what you need to work on for your next draft.

As you read, ask yourself the following questions and take notes about what you find:

  • What’s missing?
  • What isn’t needed?
  • Which bits need rewriting?

I understand that this step can be both exciting and a little terrifying. But I promise you, it is worth it!

3. Edit and Rewrite for Structure

What to do after you've written a book - Step 3. Edit and rewrite for structure

Now that you have a good idea about where your book is and where you want it to go, you’re ready for the second draft.

This is when you write new sections for those holes you found when you read through your draft. It’s when you cut those sections that weren’t necessary, and when you rewrite the sections that were needed but weren’t quite right.

Your second draft isn’t about fixing typos and polishing sentences. It’s about structure.

This part can feel like sculpting, chiselling away at your book trying to discover the treasure hidden in the unsophisticated, hulking block.

Once the overall structure of your book is sound, only then should you start to polish it.

Depending on your comfort level, you might decide you can do this with self-editing. If you’re less sure, don’t be afraid to reach out to a developmental editor for direction and advice.

4. Get Some Help

What to do after you've written a book - Step 4. Get some help

It’s a good time to start inviting other people into your book once you got your second draft, this includes critique partners, beta readers or even an editor.

Before this stage, your book isn’t you enough. Getting too much involvement from other people after a first draft may cause your book to get lost, to lose some of your vision. The second draft allows you to put more of yourself into your book.

It can be hard to tell when your book is done, which is why it’s so important that you find a writing community and critique groups that can push you through not one, not two, but at least three revised drafts. The more revisions the better.

And finally…

Only then, when your manuscript is the best it can possibly be, should you consider your publishing route.

Traditional or self-publish?

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If you hope to pursue traditional publishing, your next steps will involve tackling the submission process.

The jobs needed here include:

If, however, you want to self-publish your book, the next steps will include tasks such as:

  • Editing the book to a professional level
  • Get an eye-catching cover design
  • Formatting the inside and outside for publication
  • Market the book to drum up sales pre and post publication

Taking the time to assemble a good team that can help you take your book to the next level will give you the tools to be on a level playing field with the bestselling authors in your genre.

You’ve written a book – my final tip

You’ll spend a lot of time “waiting to hear back” during the publication process, whether you’re going down the traditional route or taking the plunge and self-publishing your work.

Precious writing time shouldn’t be wasted by sitting back and not doing anything. You can always do something you’re waiting for a stage to be completed. Take the time to think about what your next book is going to be. Start plotting. Make notes. Start writing!

Have you written a book? Do you have a published book out at the moment? Have you survived the submissions process? How did it feel?

Let me know in the comments!

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