Writing a book is one thing, editing another, and publishing yet another thing entirely. Throughout roughly the past ten years of my life, during which I’ve considered writing my career (monetary input notwithstanding), I’ve gathered some information and experience that may be helpful to other writers. Here are answers to some common questions about what comes next after you complete that first draft, and how to get it ready to share with the rest of the world.
What do I do after finishing my first draft?
Edit, edit, edit. Preferably after you’ve given your manuscript some time to breathe, a couple of months, maybe longer—it really depends on what works for you. When you’re ready to dive back in, make sure you take the time to look at your story from a macro level—Are my characters consistent? Does the plot flow organically? Are there any continuity problems? Is this really the best POV for the story? Is my voice consistent?, and a micro-level—meaning sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, consistency in naming conventions, etc.
Edit the whole damn thing, then edit it again. Join a critique group. If you don’t know where to find one, try Meetup.com, night classes at a local college, your local bookstore, or online. Take the good feedback, leave the rest.
Edit it again.
Think you’re done?
One more time.
And it won’t be your last. If you’re serious enough to seek a publisher, you’ll be editing the manuscript a few more times with them. If you’re self-publishing, seriously consider hiring an editor (if you’re looking for an editor, try upwork.com) before you publish, no matter how good you think you are. If you’re really experienced and have workshopped your full novel with other eagle-eyed, experienced writers, then perhaps you don’t need an editor before attempting to publish, but it (usually) never hurts.
How do I publish?
There are dozens of articles out there on how to get your book published, and what works for you will depend on a number of factors such as who your audience is and what you want and expect out of having your book published. Are you in it for the money? For fame? If so, you’re in the wrong industry, my friend. Yes, big successes do happen, but they are few and far between. Are you in it because you love writing, love your story, and want to share it with other people? Good. Keep reading.