It's the end of November. You managed to write 50k of a brand new book during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Congratulations!
But now you have a novel, or at least part of one, and you have no idea what to do next. Well, look no further. Here's a list of advice and resources you can use to take the next step with your book.
Finish the Book.
Chances are you wrote 50,000 words which is an amazing feat. But most of the time, 50,000 words does not a novel make. Typically, novels range from 60,000-90,000 words. There are variations depending on genre but a good rule of thumb to follow is:
- Adult fiction: 75,000-95,000 words
- Young Adult fiction: 60,000-80,000 words
- Middle Grade fiction: 30,000-55,000 words
So while you have done an amazing job getting a large chunk of your story down on paper, there still might be some more writing to do. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, The Great Gatsby is only 47,094 words. Regardless, this is good information for you to have moving forward and for the current publishing market.
Revise. Revise. Revise.
This is one of the most crucial points in the writing process. Some writers argue that it is the most important. Here are some quotes and advice from published authors about the editing process:
"First you have to accept that it's not perfect, and that's okay...Take your time, don't rush. Really invest in your story." -Lauren Gibaldi, author of "AutoFocus"
"Set your draft aside for at least two weeks to gain a fresh perspective." -Lewis Jorstad, author of "Write Your Hero"
"After I’ve written a significant amount, I’ll edit that section with paper and pen." -John Avalon, author of "Washington's Farewell"
"My first step is always making a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline of what I have...I go into a lot of detail about where my main character is at emotionally in each scene and the state of her relationships with other characters and the love interest." -Jessica Taylor, author of "Wandering Wild"
"Dedicate yourself to editing. Think about your initial vision for the book and all the ways your current draft is lacking. Figure out you can make your vision match your reality and make it happen. One step at a time." -Julie Murphy, author of "Dumplin'"
Sometimes you might need some help improving your writing craft. There are many library resources that can help you do that including:
Register for a free Gale Course on creative writing, publishing and more.
LinkedIn Learning, , opens a new windowhas fantastic video tutorials on writing for free.
This can be a potentially scary part of the process. You have to put your work out there and share it with people. Now is the time to share it with trusted reviewers. These can be friends, fellow writers or you can hire editors and/or copyeditors from sites like fiverr or Upwork.
You can also look at joining various writer groups. Some local ones include Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, WritebyNight and Lighthouse Writers. WritebyNight also has a great list off writer resources in Colorado. See the full list here.
These first three steps may have to be repeated several times. And that's okay! You're trying to make your novel the best that is can be. If it needs to go through the revision process several times and be read and critiqued by many people, that's perfectly acceptable. Only you know when your novel is ready to move onto the next step.
Begin the Query Process.
If you want to pursue the traditionally publishing route, you will need a literary agent. Here are some of the best resources for finding an agent as well as the submission process:
- Check out a copy of the latest Writer's Market to see what agents are accepting queries and if they are a good fit for you.
- Explore the wish lists of literary agents on Manuscript Wish List website or search #mswl on Twitter.
- Sign up for PitchWars, which is a mentor program to help novice novel writers get a leg up in the industry. Also mark your calendar for their quarterly #PitMad events on Twitter.
- Find similar titles to your book and check the acknowledgements. More often than not, authors thank their agent. Then you can research that agent and see if they are open for queries.
But what is a query?
A query letter is what literary agents use to determine whether or not they want to represent you and your manuscript. Here are some good resources to learn more about querying:
- Query Clinic from Writer's Digest
- Jane Friedman's Blog on How to Write a Query Letter
- Pub Rants Blog from local literary agent Kristin Nelson
- If you've wondered, this video explains how the world of self-publishing works, opens a new window.
Don't Give Up.
More than anything, the best advice is to keep going. Valuing your story and your worth as a writer is the most important piece to this puzzle. You'll be amazed at how much you can accomplish with this mindset. You've already done so much. Don't give up!