So let’s look over everything we’ve accomplished in the series so far:
- Proper manuscript formatting is important.
- Let your manuscript get cold before diving into major editing.
- Read aloud to edit, read backward, switch fonts—change it up so you can see the errors.
- Word economize!
- Let other people read it. Friends, family, beta readers, writers groups, conferences. Get as much feedback as you can.
- Get thick skin. Respond with dignity and grace to feedback.
- You’ll probably have to rewrite. Accept that as part of the process.
- Get some cred by entering contests. Also get some professional feedback this way.
- When it’s time, consider working with an editor—especially if you’re self-publishing.
It always kills me when published authors say, “Hey, I get paid to make stuff up.” As though that’s all that goes into it. I guess they’re smiling at what they get to do for a living. But make no mistake, as I’m certain those of you who’ve been through this process already, writing is hard work. It’s some of the hardest work you can do. It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride of chaos. It’s probably like giving birth and then raising the kid to maturity. There will be moments of joy and moments of pure hell. But in the end, it’s worth it.
Suppose you’ve done all this and then some. Now what? Well, if you’ve really been through tons of drafts and had multiple people look at it, it’s time to get this thing published.
Self-pub. If you’re self-publishing, it’s time to study other self-published authors and see how they became successful. It’s also time to learn all you can about marketing your book to bring it the most success possible. It’s going to take a ton of work, so please don’t think uploading a novel to Amazon will score you instant success. You’ll have to get the word out. But plenty have done it and been successful, so learn from them.
Traditional. For those sticking to the traditional route. Now comes the fun bit we call querying.
Oh, Luke! How’d you get in here?
Anyway, if you thought all this stuff was hard, wait until you get into querying. It’s not unlike novel editing, only more intense because you have to be clever on one page instead of several.
But there are places that can help you out. Visit Janet Reid’s Query Shark blog to see the good, the bad, and the ugly—often the ugly. Learn what not to do so you do it right in your own.