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The Final Stretch: Steps to Take Once You've Finished Your Manuscript

Hey there, fellow writers!

Congratulations on finishing your draft! It's such an amazing feeling to finally have all those words down on paper.

But hold up, before you pop the champagne and do a happy dance, there's still some work to be done. Here are the steps you need to take once you've finished your draft:

Step 1: Take a break

First things first, take a break.

You've been working hard on this manuscript for a while, so give yourself a breather. Do something fun, go for a walk, or binge-watch your favorite show.

Whatever it is, just take a break from your writing. It's important to step away from your manuscript so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Here are five ways you can unwind:

  • Treat yourself to a spa day! Get a relaxing massage, a rejuvenating facial, or maybe even a mani-pedi to pamper yourself after all that hard work.

  • Take a nature walk. Breathe in the fresh air and soak up the beauty of the outdoors. Maybe even bring a notebook and jot down any ideas that come to mind for your next project.

  • Have a girls' night in. Invite your besties over for a movie marathon, some comfort food, and a few glasses of wine. Sometimes, the best way to recharge is by spending time with those who make you laugh and feel good.

  • Travel! Whether it's a weekend getaway or a week-long trip, exploring a new place can be a great way to recharge your batteries and get inspired for your next project.

  • Indulge in a guilty pleasure. Maybe it's binge-watching a new series on Netflix, indulging in some retail therapy, or eating that slice of cake you've been eyeing. Whatever it is, treat yourself to something that brings you joy and helps you relax.

Step 2: Read your manuscript

After you've had some time away, it's time to read your manuscript.

This is where you'll get an idea of what needs to be fixed, added, or removed. Make notes as you read, and don't worry about making changes just yet.

The goal here is to get a sense of the big picture.

A fun way to read your novel and catch mistakes is to read it out loud. As an editor, I use this technique often to help me catch those little things my brain didn't hear, but my ears did!

Another way to approach reading your manuscript is to change the font or print it out! Just changing the format will help you see it in a new light. A lot of authors swear by this!

Step 3: Edit and revise

Now that you know what needs to be fixed, it's time to start editing and revising.

This can be the most daunting step, but don't worry, you got this!

Start with the big changes first, like adding or removing scenes, characters, or plot points. Then move on to the smaller details like grammar, sentence structure, and word choice.

I created a free workbook on how to self-edit your novel before hiring an editor.

Step 4: Get feedback

Once you've done some editing and revising, it's time to get feedback.

Find some beta readers who can give you honest feedback on your manuscript.

This can be friends, family, or other writers. Listen to their feedback, but remember, ultimately it's your book, so you get to decide what changes to make.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Goodreads: Goodreads is a social media platform for book lovers, and it's a great place to find beta and ARC readers. You can search for groups that focus on your genre or niche, and then reach out to members who might be interested in reading your work.

  • Book bloggers and bookstagrammers: There are many bloggers and social media influencers who focus on books and are always looking for new titles to review. Do some research to find bloggers or influencers who might be a good fit for your book, and then reach out to them to see if they'd be interested in reading and reviewing your work.

  • Writing groups and workshops: If you're a member of a writing group or have attended writing workshops in the past, reach out to your fellow writers to see if they'd be willing to read your work and provide feedback. You might be surprised at how supportive and helpful your writing community can be!

  • Online forums and social media groups: There are many online forums and social media groups for writers and readers alike, and they can be a great place to connect with potential beta and ARC readers. Just be sure to follow any guidelines or rules for sharing your work in these spaces.

  • NetGalley: NetGalley is an online service that connects authors and publishers with readers who are interested in reviewing books before they're published. It's a great way to get feedback on your work and generate buzz before your book is released.

Step 5: Polish and finalize

After you've received feedback, it's time to polish and finalize your manuscript.

Make any final changes, and then do a final proofread. This is where you'll catch any last-minute typos or errors.

Here are some ways you can go about that:

  • Proofread: Once you've finished revising and editing, it's time to proofread your manuscript for typos, spelling errors, and other small mistakes. Consider using a spellchecker or grammar tool, but don't rely on them exclusively - read your work carefully to catch any issues they might miss.

  • Format: Make sure your manuscript is formatted correctly according to industry standards. Check that your margins, font size, and spacing are consistent throughout the document. If you're self-publishing, you'll need to format your manuscript for e-book and print-on-demand platforms.

  • Create a cover: If you're self-publishing, you'll need to design a cover for your book. Consider hiring a professional designer or using a platform like Canva to create an eye-catching cover that reflects the tone and genre of your book.

  • Get feedback: Once you've completed the above steps, it's a good idea to get feedback from beta readers, critique partners, or a professional editor. They can give you valuable insights and help you identify any final tweaks that need to be made.

Step 6: Publish!

Finally, it's time to publish your book!

Whether you're going the traditional publishing route or self-publishing, there are plenty of resources available to help you.

Make sure you have a great cover design and a strong book description, and then hit that publish button!

Here are some ways you can go about publishing your novel:

  • Traditional publishing: This is the traditional model of publishing, where an author submits their manuscript to a publishing house, and if accepted, the publisher handles editing, formatting, printing, and distribution. This route can be difficult to break into, but offers the benefits of established distribution channels and marketing support.

  • Self-publishing: Self-publishing is a popular option for authors who want complete control over the publishing process. With self-publishing, authors handle editing, formatting, cover design, and distribution themselves. This route can be more accessible and cost-effective, but requires more work on the author's part.

  • Hybrid publishing: Hybrid publishing combines aspects of traditional and self-publishing. In this model, authors work with a publisher who offers some of the services of a traditional publisher, but the author retains more control and responsibility over the publishing process.

  • Small press publishing: Small press publishers are independent publishers that specialize in niche genres or topics. They typically have smaller distribution channels, but can offer more personalized attention and support to their authors.

  • Digital publishing: Digital publishing refers to publishing e-books and audiobooks that can be downloaded and read on devices like e-readers, tablets, and smartphones. This can be a good option for authors who want to reach a global audience without the cost of printing and distribution.

Remember, every author's publishing journey is different, and what works for one author may not work for another. It's important to research your options and choose the publishing route that best suits your goals and needs as an author.

There you have it, the steps you need to take once you've finished your draft. Remember, writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.

Take your time, enjoy the process, and most importantly, keep writing!

P.S. Download the free resource I created to go with this blog post:

Build Your Writing Toolkit: Free Resources for Every Stage of the Writing Process

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