So You Wrote A Book
So you wrote a book… Now what the hell are you supposed to do?
First off, congratulations! While yes, there are hundreds of thousands of writers out there, do not forget there are SEVEN BILLION people on this planet. You are now one of the brave minorities who have accomplished something truly amazing despite every challenge we face as writers. Writing is not easy. Writing is hard. Writing is hell. Not just mentally, but emotionally, and for some of us even physically. Yet you did it. You completed a BOOK! I don’t care if it’s a children’s book (which I consider personally way harder than even my 100k novels) a cook book or a 400 page novel. You have accomplished something wonderful that not just anyone can do. Congratulate yourself. Really, you should be celebrating. You need to celebrate this. It is vital to your mental health.
I could keep going, but we’ll save why this is so important for another day and another article.
But I digress… Now what? What the hell are you supposed to do with this thing? If you’re fortunate, your friends and family are proud of you. Which feels good and all, but as you smile you’re secretly wondering what the next step is.
“How did you know? Are you psychic?!”
Nah, I wish. I’m a writer. I was there. I also submitted about 50 query letters before my first book was done. Fortunately only one agent was nasty enough to laugh at me. While I deserved it, I am a big believer in karma and simply being nice. I do not condone for any reason belittling anyone no matter how dumb they’re being. Oh I’m sorry, don’t know what a query letter is? That’s perfectly okay, I have an article for that, too. I gotchu, boo!
Right now I bet you’re wondering when I am going to get to the steps of what to do next, right? Yeah sometimes I prattle. I’m heavily caffeinated today.
Step 1. Write the book. Oh wait, you did that already. *CHEERS!!!!!!!!!*
Step 2. Put the book down. Don’t touch it. Forget about it for no less than 30 days. I am incredibly serious. You can’t see it, but I am wearing my serious face right now.
“Why the hell would I do that? I just wrote a BOOK! I have to get it to the WORLD!”
Slow down, killer. I know how excited you are. Did you not just read I submitted 50 query letters to real agents before I finished the first draft of my first book? I get it! That’s why I am telling you to PUT THE BOOK DOWN. PUT. IT. DOWN. In one month… read it. I would strongly recommend you print it for this but for many of us that’s not an option… Especially if it’s like 400 pages. Still yet, if at all possible you seriously need to print it for this part. It will change your entire perspective.
Okay you’re still wondering why I said put it down. Hopefully you’re still reading and haven’t written me off as a lunatic. Because believe it or not I do know what I’m talking about.
You have to put it down for at least 30 days because after that when you pick it back up to start reading, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to change at least 50% of your book. If you don’t, you may have a god complex that needs discussed, or this is not your first book and you’re not even reading this article.
“50%?! NO FREAKING WAY. It is PERFECT! I hate you right now…. Because you just made me insecure and I don’t like this feeling! Cause omg what if you’re right?!”
I am right.
No really, I am.
This is normal. This is even expected. In fact, it’s a good thing! It’s called polishing.
“What’s polishing, precious, what’s polishing?”
So I’m going to explain with a little story below.
My first real book was Blood Rose. While originally published first in 2013, I started it in 2009. It has been published a total of three times. The first two, I’m honestly still embarrassed about. I have edited this book and rewritten it more times than I can count. (I’m so not joking. It’s actually still a little embarrassing.) It was my first. I was honing my skillz. And for several years, those skillz were as embarrassing as using the word skillz is. Cause I had none. Then I studied, I studied and studied and studied and studied for YEARS. Why you ask? Because it was my calling. If you’re going to do something, do it RIGHT! Do the best job you can possibly do because your book and your name deserves NOTHING LESS!
Later, I became an editor because of all this studying, learned even MORE and wrote about 30 more books. Then re-wrote my baby again. Because she is, and forever will be, my baby. She deserved it. And she desperately needed it. Finally this beauty is something I am truly proud of. But that’s how it goes with your first. Your first is a bloody mess! (If you have read Blood Rose that’s actually a really good pun hehe. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for????)
So anyways. 2. Put it down. Print it. Read it.
- During the next thirty days, study your rump off. You need it. Your book needs it. Plus you both deserve it. If your book truly means as much to you as I am sure it does, you should care enough to do some research. Maybe this research is reading more books in the same genre as yours. Maybe this research is reading all of my articles and sharing them with your novelist friends hehe. Maybe research is how to edit your own work, which I promise is not easy no matter how brilliant I am sure you are.
Now go to your calendar, set the date for 30 days. Add a link to this article on the reminder. Set another reminder with the link for a week out. That’s about how long it could take for the proof read.
Hi! I’m sure it’s been a month since you were last here because you listened to me and put the book down and did your studying. Or, you just wanted to see what else I had to say about what came next. Cause yeah you’re not done, I know.
- After your 30 day vacation from your prodigy you may pick up your book, preferably on PAPER, and start reading it first word to last. CAREFULLY. While you do this keep a fresh note book with you. Write notes, write down your own questions, thoughts, feelings, whatever comes to mind. Use a red pen for typos you notice just like your third grade teacher did. Have a new plot twist idea for page 35? Write it out in the note book. Make little indications on your book throughout this process writing correlating numbers on the book pages to match what’s in your notebook. If you could not print and are reading a word doc, you can use the review tab to add new comment or track changes features. This works nicely as they’re easy to find. It was my favorite tools when professionally editing.
The reason I recommend printing is simply because it truly does change your perspective. You will see the entire book differently, especially after 30 days. When we first write our book our brain tells us what we think should be there when we may actually have something completely different on paper. This is the most accurate way to proof read. If you feel that you shouldn’t need to proof read your work, or that’s what an editor is for when you land your big contract with a super agent, well then that’s wonderful. You clearly have a 200 IQ and are perfect in every aspect. Best of luck in all your ventures. If that’s not you, let’s continue shall we?
- Repeat step four as often as you feel is necessary. In fact… I suggest 3 times at least.
- Get some other people to read it. This can be extremely difficult. One, you need to find a friend who is not awe inspired that you wrote a book and will adore every word. You need someone kind, but real. Don’t find the meanest person you know and ask for a critique. You will wound yourself beyond belief doing that. You need someone who can truly reliably evaluate your work in at least some form. Sometimes we have no choice but to turn to a professional proof reader. Do bare in mind the difference in a proof reader and a reviewer. Reviewers see stories. Proof Readers see words. They find your flaws, hopefully they do also. You want this. You need this. It’s not an insult no matter how hard it is to take at first. It does get easier. This is also vital to thickening your skin. You will be rejected as a writer. It’s unavoidable sadly. It also helps us grow.
QUOTE ALERT! “Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
BUT! Remember… one person’s opinion is not everyone’s. If you disagree with your proof reader, get another opinion. For example, they may tell you one character feels very unbelievable. Maybe they’re supposed to be unbelievable though. If that’s so, maybe you can find a way to show that’s how they should be rather than just hoping your readers “get it”. Writing is one massive learning curve. In fact… it’s a damn circle. A really SHARP cornered circle that we drive around in looking for a turn that may not even exist, who knows.
- Again, congratulations. You have come a long ways now. You wrote a book, you proof read your book and hopefully did some wonderful albeit painful editing. Got a proof reader, and maybe completed step four all over again. KUDOS! You are a SERIOUS WRITER now!
Now… you may craft your query. DUN DUN DUN! (Query How To Coming Soon!)
- Nail down your genre. Sometimes this is much harder than it sounds. I wrote a book titled Nothing & Everything. I submitted it to an agent who I think is incredible, she is very sweet. I hope some day we find ourselves partnered up and contracted to work with one another. She was honest, she loved it. However…. she couldn’t nail down the genre. So she couldn’t accept it. The book is about a young dance teacher who meets a former Marine who had lost his hearing. While trying to overcome some of life’s painful challenges amidst falling in love, a lot of scary stuff happens. I now classify it as a romantic suspense, but it could have fit into multiple categories such as chick lit, military romance, etc. Do some research. What genre are other books similar to yours? Yes I know, more homework booooo. Too bad. This is part of the game, my friend.
- Now it’s time to make a very difficult choice… How do you want to publish? These are your basic options.
- Traditional – Do you want an agent? If so, that query letter is the most vital tool you have at your disposal. You absolutely must research all agencies thoroughly before submitting. I promise you will never be signed if you send out the book to every agent you find no matter what they work with. Every agent works with different types of books. You MUST find the right one for THIS story.
- Small Independent Publisher – Not everyone comes out on top this route, I won’t lie. I tried it, it just wasn’t for me. It’s a long story I will not discuss. However, many many many authors find total happiness here. Please, if you go this route do your research on the indie publishers you consider. Read every word on their website. Look at the covers of their books. Do you like them? (If you are looking for a special cover for your super special book give us a shout!) Read a couple of their published books. Do they feel like a fit? Are they well edited? Talk to their authors. Are they happy? How are they paid, how often are they paid, have they been paid? Ask so many questions. If the publisher is reluctant to answer…. Maybe you should reconsider. This is not a small decision. READ THE ENTIRE CONTRACT WORD FOR WORD BEFORE YOU SIGN. Still confused, still unsure about the contract? Maybe you know a lawyer who would clarify it for you. If not, maybe you need to find one.
- Paid Publishing – This is similar to an indie publisher but you PAY THEM to publish your book and maybe do some other stuff. Again do some serious research. I don’t feel this is a good choice for anyone, but this is not my choice. It’s yours.
- Independent Self Publishing – This is where you go entirely on your own when it comes to publishing. You are now responsible for making sure your baby is PROPERLY edited. This is VITAL. Unless you ARE an editor, you need a professional set of eyes. Not even your English teacher is good enough for this phase. PLEASE. Take this SERIOUSLY. Again if you are hiring someone you have to do your research.
Once I read this book by an indie author who PAID an editor… In the middle of her book in all capital letters was the word POOP (aside from a hundreds of other horrible errors). For no reason other than they could they did this to her and get away with it. If I knew who they were I’d have stomped a hole in their face. She paid them. She didn’t complain and she didn’t fix it, she didn’t even argue with them. I offered to edit the book for free because I felt so badly for her. She turned this down. This is not just the disgusting editor’s fault. A writer must treat their work with respect, or they themselves will never have respect. RESEARCH who you are paying to help with your book. Make sure they are not just good, but professional. It is a sick and sad world we live in and people like to take advantage of one another. Don’t be the victim.
This also goes for the cover. This can be difficult because neither of the above services if good come cheap. Remember, people do judge a book by its cover. You want a good one. A professional one. One that truly fits the story and shows not just your voice but that you are a serious writer.
If you’re looking for a special cover, you can talk to us about a custom painting created into a one of a kind book cover. Or, if you want something more modern, my favorite cover artist can be found HERE! at Cover Me Creative! Much love, Kristy! This woman is a saint and a miracle worker. She’s amazing.
I do intend to write a much more in-depth article on Self Publishing. This is the path I have decided to walk for the time being, and it’s one I am gladly traveling by complete choice. There is a lot to it. But when done right… totally worth it.
- I wasn’t intending to make this a ten step article but 10 is such a nice number. Take a day off. You need it. That’s a good ten.
For now I am going to wrap this up considering I am nearly at 3,000 words for this one article! Sheesh. But hey, this is sort of a big deal! Thanks guys. If you have any questions (comments, too!) please leave them below, I would love to hear from you.