Your novel is finished. You have cleaned it up, corrected your mistakes, and made sure it flows from beginning to end. You love this book. You love this story. It’s the best thing you’ve ever written.
What are you going to do with it?
Decide what you want to do with what you’ve written. Do you want to share it with the world? Keep it just for yourself? Share it with friends and family? Enter it in a contest?
If publication is your ultimate goal, have someone else read your story first for consistency and grammar. It can be anyone, but try and share with someone with grammatical knowledge or who has done a fair amount of reading. An outside reader will be a good gauge if others will read it. Listen to their feedback and adjust accordingly. Don’t let a bruised ego get in the way of putting out the best book possible.
I can’t really guide you on finding a publisher, but there are plenty of articles, books, and websites that will help you find one who will fit you perfectly. Do the research yourself. Don’t pay exorbitant fees for someone to represent you. Decent publishers and agents don’t make money off of you. They make it off your sales.
You can also use an online service like Amazon to put together an e-book. E-books are one of the fastest growing reading markets today. You can’t charge as much as you would a hard cover book, but you can get your book out there to the mass reading market quickly and easily.
Maybe you’ve already tried a bit of the publisher route, yet still have it sitting in your computer. Don’t let your baby lie alone and forgotten. Print it out and give it to your family and friends. Show them what you’ve been working on. What consumes you. What motivates you. Others show you the fish they’ve caught or the quilt they’ve made or the sweater they’ve knitted. Your book is just as important as their accomplishments.
Talk about your book. You will be surprised how many of your co-workers, exercise buddies, and football fantasy team members write. Share your frustrations, ask them questions. What worked, what doesn’t work. If you get stuck, ask someone for help. You’re not an expert on everything. Acknowledge that fact and ask someone who does know.
Reflect on your writing journey. Did you enjoy it? Was the editing a pain in the whatever? Did you learn something? Are you ready for more?
Keep a notebook, journal, or pad of paper by your side at all times. You never know when you will get an idea for a story. Ideas for twists and turns can hit you at any time. I wanted one of my characters to spend time with someone famous for just a couple of hours. But it couldn’t just be anybody. But I kept coming up blank. Until one evening the name came to me. While I was driving. I wound up pulling over to the side of the road and sending myself an email with the name so I wouldn’t forget.
Inspiration is fun. It’s wild, adventurous, and unpredictable. You can write anything about anybody (no real names and tweak your character; liability issues, you know), any place, any time period.
Remember why you write. Don’t give up just because your first book didn’t get picked up by a publisher or your first article didn’t get published in a magazine. As the song says, “We’ve only just begun.”
Writing is a job just like sales or marketing or accounting. You have to put time into it, and have to be willing to change and improve with every story. Make it a part of your everyday life. Join a writer’s group. Go to writing conferences. Read. Research. Keep honing those writing skills. They are so much a part of who you are.
Writing is a wonderful combination of everything you have always been and everything you are yet to be. Enjoy the addiction. Enjoy the ride.
Or should I say Enjoy the Write ….