Congratulations on completing your novel!
You are officially a novelist!
Isn’t that cool?
I’m sure a great many of you are ready to put the book in a drawer and forget about it for a little while. Spending a month working that intensely can cause burnout, and that’s OK. Take a break if you need it. Take a permanent break if you want. It’s perfectly OK to bask in the glory of doing something that few people do.
Others of you may be wondering what to do next. Do you start sending query letters to publishers? Do you upload to Smashwords or put it on sale in the Kindle store?
And the post script to that answer is not yet anyway.
Remember your goal at the beginning of the month was to complete the first draft of your novel. That is what you have, and as Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Don’t get discouraged, but do be realistic.
Before you put your novel out there for all to see, don’t you want to make sure it’s your best work possible? You only have one chance to make a first impression; use it wisely.
How to Ensure Your Best Possible Work
- Read it. It sounds obvious, but some people rush to the next step too soon. Take time to read what you wrote.
- Edit it. In case you missed my earlier post, read it now. Unless you are a writing savant, editing should take more time and effort than the first draft. Please consult the pie chart.
- Solicit critiques from people other than your parents and friends. Find someone who will give an honest assessment of your work: a professor, teacher, editor, writer, reviewer, or a member of a critique group.
- Give it to your family too because it’s always nice to have unconditional support. (But it’s even more important to get an unbiased opinion.)
- Finish the rewrite according to your critiques and preferences.
- Then, weigh your options.
Whether you choose to self-publish or seek an agent and traditional contract, presenting a polished manuscript to your audience is critical. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by rushing to publish.
But what if you didn’t finish? Well, then you should be cast into the inferno, naturally.
Kidding, of course.
If you didn’t finish, so what? Set a new deadline and keep at it. Or if you found this novel writing thing just isn’t your bag, then forget about it and try something else, like parasailing or horseback riding.
So despite your rate of completion, you got something out of this: either a finished novel or proof that you’d rather be doing something else. Either way, aren’t you glad you know?