So you wrote a book. Now what?
Updated: Feb 24, 2020
First things first, congratulations! You have just done what thousands of people set out to do and fail to finish. You're in the elite group of writers who finishes what they start. That is cause for celebration.
But if you're anything like me, that book has been the only thing on your mind for the last few months, maybe even the last year, maybe longer. Finishing it, typing "The End" is such a bittersweet moment. Because you did it! But now it's done.
I'm always left with a distinct feeling of, "Now what?"
So maybe I can help you in your "now what" stage by providing a few things you should do next.
1. Catch up on the things of life you've neglected in favor of writing.
Sure, this isn't fun, but it is important. Go do your laundry. Give yourself some pampering. Do some self care. Exercise. Get a full night of sleep. You know. All of that fun stuff. If you haven't neglected anything, go ahead and skip to step two.
2. If this is your first draft, wait at least a week, and then begin edits.
No book is perfect the first time through. There will be typos and grammatical mistakes. There will be sentences that you began heading in one direction and then switched direction halfway through but didn't fix the first half. There will be things you mention and it reads as an Important Thing that you never mention again. We can't have that. So go through, find all of those things, and fix them. Then do it again, because I guarantee you still missed stuff and some sentences are clunky when they don't need to be. Then do it again. By this point you should be closer to something you'd be extremely proud to put your name on and have associated with you for the rest of history. That's a good thing.
3. Write a book proposal.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say those words, that's okay. I've put together a YouTube video and a blog post explaining how to do this, so I won't harp on it too long here. The key thing is to find a way to concisely convince people that they want to read your book, in the form of a business letter. It's kind of challenge, but think of it like a sales pitch. If you do it wrong, you may never get in front of the right people who will see the potential in your book. So don't rush this step. Make it good.
4. Continue building your platform.
Spend some time pouring into the people who follow you and the people you follow. Expand your connections and your network. The more you can do now, the better. If you need help with this, I've also created a blog posts on platform building as well as a YouTube video explaining why it's so vital to have something.
5. Dream of marketing plans and materials.
That's right. Make that dream list. When this book is published, where would you like to have book signings? What about a launch party? Are there any moments in the book you'd like to hire an artist to draw? Are there any creatures or characters you'd love to see as a POP! Figure or plushie someday? Are there good quotes you'd want to see on a T Shirt? Make a list. Go back to that list every time it gets hard. Because that list will be filled with things that make you hopeful and excited. And, it will help publishers if you already have marketing and merchandizing ideas.
6. Consider the following: Could this book be part of a series?
If the answer is yes, start dreaming about the series. What happens next? How many books? Go modify your book proposal now. If you have a clear enough idea of what the series will look like, go ahead and write a paragraph summary of each book to come. It doesn't have to be completely accurate. After all, you haven't written these books yet. But showing a publisher or agent the direction you want to go in can help them see your vision, too.
Hopefully by this point you've spent some time away from the book and are ready to go in and do one final round of proofreading before you start sending it out to agents or publishers. The main point is to not rush the process. Rushing this sort of thing means it's not your best work, it's not their best work, and you may both look back on the published book and go, "Huh. That could have been better." After something is published, you can't change it. If there's a new reprint you can fix some typos or update sources (if it's nonfiction) but the last thing you want to do is publish something hastily and then realize you could have done better work.
However, you also don't want to get so caught up in the "this could be better" spin that you never share your work with the world. Find the balance. Make it good, and let it go. There will always be things you wish you could fix post publication. But hopefully if you take your time, that list will be small.
So once again, congratulations! You finished a book! WHOO HOO!
I hope this answers your "now what?" question.
J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young as a literary scout. In what free time she has left, she also works as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. She can often be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.
Follow her on most social media @authorjjhanna