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After NaNoWriMo: What Comes Next?

Whether you won NaNoWriMo or not, the month of December brings with it some decisions. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your WIP (work in progress) as you think about going forward:

Now that word count isn't the goal, what do I need to do to make sure my writing is good writing? Are there any places I need to go back and tighten up my word choices?

Are all of the characters serving a purpose? Are there any unnecessary scenes/characters/items?

Is the story going anywhere?

This question requires some intense honesty with yourself, but, you should be able to tell where the story is going and if you're going to make it to the end. If you answered that you don't know where it's going or don't know how it's going to get there, you may need to either spend some time thinking about the end OR figure out what section is giving you trouble. If there's a section giving you trouble, you can either skip it and come back to it later or you can rewrite the timeline entirely and change where the book starts. Either could be the right option for you.

Lastly, are you committed enough to the story to go through a few drafts of it?

Are you willing to "murder your darlings" as Faulkner once said? The editing process can be the hardest, most grueling time of writing a book. You'll write the first draft, feel great, go back and read it, and often think "this sucks." So you start again. Either you do a full rewrite, starting from a blank page, or you edit line by line. No matter how you start out, you'll likely go through two or three drafts before the manuscript is actually ready to go out to agents or publishers. But, when your book is accepted by a publisher, you'll likely have to do another draft with a new editor's ideas to make it fit the publishing house.

Get used to your manuscript. Writing a book is not a one and done deal. It's a process of drafting, editing, rewriting, and rewriting again to iron out the wrinkles. And, unfortunately, the final draft that get's published will probably still have typos and errors you didn't catch the first time. Such is life.

But, if you love the novel you worked on for NaNoWriMo, and you want to see it published some day, there are few things you can do as you edit in order to increase your chances of being published.

1. Build your platform.

I don't care if you blog, vlog, tweet, facebook, or instagram, or if you do some mix of them all. You need to do at least one and that one you need to do well. Ideally you should have at least 1000 followers to get more than a passing glance from agents or editors.

2. Establish a brand.

Get known for something. What sets you apart? Emphasize that. Don't be just another writer. Be a writer who [fill in the blank]. Being known for something will also help boost your social media numbers.

3. Submit and get published in magazines, on blogs, and in literary journals.

The more you've published before you try to submit your book, the more you'll be able to pull on potential name recognition.

4. Read current books in your genre.

I can't emphasize this enough. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. The more you can read in your genre the more aware of your genre you'll be. Does your book fit with these other books? Are any of them similar enough to yours to be a comparable title in your book proposal?

Know the market, know your readers, and gain a following. That way, after you've finished editing, you'll be ahead of the game when it comes to getting your book published.


J. J. Hanna is a Professional Writing major at Taylor University. In her spare time she makes YouTube Videos and Comics, and practices Karate at a local dojo. If you have a writing question, she'd love to hear from you! Reach out to her on the contact page. She is also looking for freelancing work, so if you have editing, beta reading, or writing needs, please let her know. Like what you see and want to get more content like this, or have your specific questions answered? Check out how you can support her on Patreon and what perks you get when you become a patron.

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