What to do after you've written a e-book: 5 subsequent steps
You worked hard. You stayed up late, got up early, got over writer's block and finally finished writing your book. Wahoo!
You think, “I wrote a book! What now?"
What do you do after you've written a book?
If this is your first book, or the first book you've finished writing, you are likely asking yourself all of these questions. You are not alone in this question.
Are you looking for self-publishing? Or is it perhaps time to start looking for a literary agent? Or should you hire an editor to check your formatting?
Should you do all of this? Or none of it?
All of these are valid thoughts that we will cover in this post.
How I finished my book
I started my first book a few years ago. To encourage me, my friends Jeff Goins and Tim Grahl and a few others asked me to write a check for $ 1,000 to the president I despise most, on condition that it would be mailed when I got my book not completed on time.
Here you can read my updates on how I wrote my book and what I learned about the writing process.
Now that my book is finished, I'm planning my next steps.
Because when you've finished writing your book, you're not really done yet. In fact, completing your book is just the beginning. And if this is your first time, you are probably looking for advice on what to do next.
In this post, we're going to talk about what comes after you've written a book.
But before we talk about what you should be doing, let's talk for a moment about what to avoid after writing your book.
What not to do after writing a book
New writers are usually eager to send out their book or short story as soon as they are finished. However, very few, if any, finished books are good books after an initial draft.
Because of this, the first step you take after you finish a book is not to announce on social media that you are done before you quickly head over to Kindle books or Amazon to self-publish or a publisher or a literature agency looking for representation.
There is still work to be done! You're going to want to do some revisions before this first novel, while a decent first draft, becomes a great book.
In short, here's what to avoid after you've written a book – for now.
Don't send your book to a publisher.
Good writing is rewriting. If you're ready to get published, don't send your book to any of the following just yet:
- Acquisition Editors
- publishing company
Submitting your manuscript before it's finished can cause a bridge to burn permanently. Some literary agents even have a policy that a rejection of a manuscript is an agency rejection.
For this reason, literary agents openly encourage writers to participate in programs like NaNoWriMo, but also politely ask them not to send them their manuscripts after the end of November.
The revision must be done first!
I know you look forward to sharing your hard work, but there is still much to be done.
Don't send your book to beta readers.
Beta readers, who will read your book and give you feedback before it is published, can help turn your manuscript from mediocre to excellent.
However, beta readers are best used after you've first worked out some of the kinks in your manuscript yourself. Otherwise, you may get feedback that you are not ready for or that may even hurt your confidence as a writer.
We're going to talk about the best time to send it out to beta readers in a moment.
Don't edit your book.
What most people do after they finish their book is go back to page one and start the line editing over, correcting typos, correcting grammar, and polishing sentences until they shimmer.
This is a big mistake. Because here is the problem:
After you've finished your book, there will be major structural problems. There will be sections that will need to be cut out, other sections that will need to be rewritten from scratch, and some sections that will need to be rewritten.
What if you find you need to cut a section that you've been polishing for hours or even days? At best, you've just wasted a lot of time, and at worst, you might be tempted to leave a problematic chapter in your manuscript because you are attached to it.
Instead, I have a better system that will save you time and result in a better book at the end of the process.
5 What To Do Next After Writing a Book
Now that you know how to avoid the pitfalls after you've written a book, let's talk about what you should do next.
I recommend five steps.
You have finished your book, great! What's next? This post reveals the five next steps you need to take after you've written your book.
1. Let your book rest
Not only do you need a break after you've written your book, but your book too.
This is because after you finish your book, you will have no perspective. They don't know what is good, what is bad, what takes work and what is good.
If you leave your book behind for a couple of weeks or even a month, you'll have time to regain perspective and see what your book is really about – or what it needs to be.
For me, I can let my books rest for two weeks and only then do I feel ready to start editing.
And if you are having a hard time taking a break, remember that working on your book doesn't mean you have to stop writing books or grow as a writer.
If you're nervous, head to your favorite coffee shop. Enjoy some new book ideas or read some of your favorite or best-selling authors. Listen to your favorite podcasts to write about.
If you want to see your entire book for what it is, you must spend enough time on it before you pick it up again, this time with fresh eyes and a clear head.
2. Read your book
Before you start editing, read your book from start to finish. This is the second step in getting an overview of your book, and while time consuming, it will save you dozen of hours by seeing exactly what to work on for your next draft.
As you write, ask yourself the following questions and take notes of what you find:
- What is missing?
- What's in addition?
- What needs to be rewritten?
For me, this is my next step, and I'm both excited and a little scared of what I'll find.
When you read your book, you will almost certainly be surprised at how good some of the sections are. How bad the rest is. But most of all, what you actually wrote is different from what you had in your head.
There are some things to grieve about after reading your book. But this is also a chance to dream again.
What could your book be? How could you turn it into something new?
For me, I did this while I was writing the book, and I'm really excited to see how my dreams for the book change as I go through the editing process.
4. Edit structure and rewrite
Now that you have a good idea of where your book is and where you want to go, you are ready for the second draft.
Your second draft is not about correcting typos and polishing sentences. It's about structure.
This is when you write new sections for the gaps you found while reading through your draft. This is the case if you cut out the unnecessary sections and rewrite the sections that were corrupted.
This part can feel like an excavation as you chisel your book trying to uncover the treasure beneath the surface.
Only when the overall structure of your book is in order should you start polishing.
Depending on your level of comfort, you can do this with self-processing. If you're not sure, don't be afraid to reach out to a development editor for guidance and advice.
5. Get help
After your second draft, it's a good time to invite other people to your book, including beta readers or even a reviewer.
Before that, your book is not enough for you, and if you get too much engagement from others, you lose part of your personal vision. The second draft allows you to put more of you in your book.
But after following the steps above, you can build a team that can take your book to the next level. (And also catch some of the typos you missed.)
Then, after all of these steps, your book is finally ready for proofreading, grammar checking, and polishing.
When your book is actually finished
It can be hard to tell when your book will actually be finished, which is why it is so important that you find a writing community and review group who can get you through not one, not two, but at least three (if not more) revised drafts .
Only if your manuscript is the best it can be should you consider your route of publication. If you want to pursue traditional publishing, the next step is to tackle the submission process.
Some of the steps in the submission process include: researching literary agents, writing a letter of inquiry, writing a summary, and querying your list of dream literary agents. While you wait, think about what your next book is about (if you're not writing it).
Precious writing time should not be wasted doing nothing thinking that there is nothing you can do while you wait.
For more information on querying agents, see our post on composing a query letter (coming soon!).
That's the hard part of writing a book
As difficult as it is to write the first draft, I've found that it is a lot harder to edit. Most of my writing disorders are due to the second draft, not the first.
Editing can also be the most exciting part of the writing process, because you can finally see how this thing that you have created finally becomes a book.
Lots of people want to write books. Few ever finish one. Editing your book is a rare experience. When you get to this point, I hope you do your best to enjoy it.
Have you ever finished writing a book? How did it feel Let me know in the comments!
Go back and find an exercise that you wrote in previous lessons. (Never practiced? Here are our 100 best writing lessons.) Use Step 2 and reread your exercise. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is missing?
- What's in addition?
- What needs to be rewritten?
Next, take 15 minutes to structure your exercise. When your time is up, post your exercise in the comments section below. And if you do post, please provide feedback on some of the pieces by other authors.
Have fun writing!
Joe Bunting is a writer and leader of the Write Practice Community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real-life adventure story set in France. It was the number 1 new release on Amazon. You can follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).