There’s just over eight days left in November which means eight more days to go in National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo. Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Instagram probably know that I forwent Nano in favor of editing my LGBT Romance Work in Tandem and searching for betas. (Want to join my beta team? Just click this link and fill out the Google Form).
Nonetheless, I know coming off of the high of trying to write 50K in a month can be a bit daunting. Even if you didn’t meet your goal, you still have more words than you did a month ago and the question always becomes, what next? Today, I thought I would provide the answer with my top six tips for what to do after NaNoWriMo.
- Finish the Book!
This step doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you didn’t meet your goal or you wrote 50,000 words and discovered there’s more to your story, finish it! NaNoWriMo is often a time when writers write every day, even if they don’t write the required 1667 words per day. If this sounds like you, keep going! A favorite quote of mine by Jodi Picoult says, “You can always edit garbage. You can’t edit a blank page.” You’ve created a habit and you have the momentum, so don’t let it stop just because November is over. Finish the book because you can always go back and fix it later.
- Take a Break!
This probably seems counterintuitive, but it’s actually super important. You have to take a break between typing “The End,” and scrolling right back up to the beginning to edit your no longer blank pages. First of all, give yourself the chance to celebrate. Holy cow, you finished a book! That’s not something everyone can say, but you can, and it’s amazing. Even if you think your draft is total garbage by the time you reach the end of it, you didn’t give up and now you have a finished product you can come back to and shape and mold until it’s perfect. Recognize that accomplishment and relish it.
The second reason you need to take a break, and believe me, this is something I struggle with in my own writing too, so I know how hard it is, is so you can come back with a fresh pair of eyes. It will be so much easier to catch the obvious plot holes, unfinished character arcs, and even funny little spelling mistakes you made while writing the first draft if you have some distance from it. From experience, just trust me on this. I know taking a break is super difficult, but it’s totally worth it.
After you’ve taken some time off; a week, two weeks, a month, however long you can stand it, you have my full permission to whip out your red pen and ink all over your book baby. This can’t seem extremely daunting at first especially if you know that your manuscript probably isn’t as perfect as you thought it was the first time. My advice is to work from the bottom up, meaning take care of the big stuff first and then worry about the grammar and the spelling and all the other nitty gritty tidbits. Fix the plot holes and do any major rewrites first. If you spend all of your time tweaking paragraphs and sentences only to find out they have to be deleted later for the purposes of the story, you’re not going to be a very happy author. Self-editing does not need to happen all at once. A lot of authors, myself included, do multiple passes when they self-edit their book. I particularly like Jenna Moreci’s method, because though it’s long, it’s also very thorough. Unless you’re on a strict deadline, take as much time as you need with the self-edit. Be kind to yourself and your book. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to self-editing, here are links to some of my favorite videos that helped me get started.
Jenna Moreci: (self-published): How to Self-Edit Your Novel
Vivian Reis: (self-published): How to Edit Your Novel Like a Boss!
Kristen Martin: (self-published): How To Edit Your Book
Ellen Brock: (freelance editor): How to Edit Your Novel Quickly and Efficiently
- Find a Critique Partner
This step is optional, but if after the self-edit you feel like you’re too close to your book and you can’t really tell if you fixed everything, a critique partner is the perfect solution. Unlike, a beta reader who is simply a consumer who will read your book and give you feedback as a reader, a critique partner tends to be a fellow writer who can help you improve your craft along with improving your story. Finding people like this can be difficult. I have had some success using the hashtags #CPFinder and #Chance2Connect on Twitter. Also try asking in any real-life writing groups you attend or in Facebook groups you are a part of. For more resources, check out Megan Lacroix’s Resources page.
- Send it to Beta Readers and Incorporate Their Feedback
As I said above, the main difference between having a CP and having betas is that betas are readers who will let you know if your book meets the expectations of your genre/target audience, as well as whether anything is confusing, slow, or otherwise off-putting. Generally, I want a maximum of ten beta readers per round and I try to do two-three rounds, revising my manuscript based on feedback between each one. This will help you iron-out anything you and your CP might have missed, like accidental cliff-hangers or side characters that disappear and reappear randomly throughout the book.
- Hire an Editor or Query
If you plan to self-publish, you absolutely need to hire at least a proofreader, but preferably a line editor, copyeditor, and proofreader, and a developmental editor if you feel you need one. (Click here if those terms are unfamiliar to you). Traditional publishing is a bit different, as when you get an agent, the two of you will revise your manuscript again before submitting it to editors at publishing houses, who will, of course, want more revisions.
Looking for an editor? Check out my website!
I hope this advice was helpful and, as always, keep making magic, word weavers!
Question of the Day: What are you doing with your Nano novel?