So You Wrote a Novel: Now What? (Hope Collier)

Posted by rachelha in Carving Our Own Destiny / 10 Comments

First post up, the lovely and talented Ms. Hope Collier answers a very important question: Now What? For many of us, the drafting and even the revising is the fun part. Once you have that finished product in your hands, though, it gets real. It gets serious. It gets freaking terrifying.

Below, Hope gives us advice on what to do next, touches on the publication options available, and then, my favorite part, focuses on her personal story and examples. Don’t forget to leave a comment and tweet this post to be entered into the Ebook Giveaway this week (see details in this post) and if you have any questions for Hope, please leave them below. I’m sure she’ll be happy to stop back by this week to answer them.

Take it away Hope! 


So You Wrote a Novel: Now What?

First of all, congratulations! That’s an enormous accomplishment, and you should be proud. More often than not, people grow excited about starting the novel but less excited about finishing it. You’re already one step ahead. Virtual cupcakes all around!

Now you might ask: What’s next? The answer depends on just how far into the I-finished-my-novel process you are. Have you gone back through, searching for unnecessary adverbs, passive sentence structure, misspellings, typos, grammatical errors, plot holes, consistency, and flow?

If not, save this page, edit your work, and then come back. We’ll be here, I promise.

If you’ve gone through to the best of your ability, now is the time to find some beta readers and critique partners. And, just to be clear, a beta reader is a person that reads your manuscript with the intent of giving a general opinion on the subject matter, flow, is it interesting, etc. A critique partner typically goes through and edits the work with comments concerning plot holes, typos, grammar issues, and such–it’s a much more involved process. You must have both. Trust me on this one. The biggest mistake a writer can make is thinking they can do this on their own. I speak from experience here, guys. Get Help!

Now that you have a super clean and shiny MS, it’s time to decide what exactly you’d like to do with it. There are three options here: 1) the traditional rout, 2) the self-pub route, and 3) the indie route.

I’ll give you a brief rundown on each, but my primary focus, since I’m Indie, will be in that area.

Traditional: This involves the tedious process of writing a query letter and potentially a synopsis in the hopes of securing a literary agent. The agent then attempts to sell your novel to a publishing house. It’s typically a long and trying process which you are most capable of if you don’t give up. The average amount of rejection letters in simply trying to land an agent looms in the hundreds. However, if this is your dream, go for it! Don’t let anyone discourage you!

Self-Published: This involves an outsourced company such as iUniverse or Lulu. It basically comes down to you submitting a manuscript. The company offers a variety of services at this point: editing, cover design, marketing, etc. They publish your book under their brand and take a share of the profits.

Independent Publishing: This involves the writer dealing with every aspect of the process.

1) You become the publisher: This means you start a small business, under a publishing name. This process varies by state, oftentimes where your company name isn’t your given name. Personally, I used our lawyer to do this. I understand it’s way over my head, and is not an area I want to mess up in.

2) You hire people to edit your work: You seek out a reputable, freelance editor(s) who will clean your MS till it’s perfect. Sadly, I’m not much help here either. I lucked out in that fact that one of my closest friends is a sensational editor. I do, however, have a list of qualified and reasonably priced individuals who provide a myriad of editorial services.

3) You hire a cover designer: There’s more to it than finding a picture and making it work. You have to find a designer who shares your vision. I am super picky when it comes to this part. I don’t care what you’ve always heard growing up. You can absolutely judge a book by its cover! A bad cover screams of bad work, 99% of the time. Before hiring a cover designer, see samples of their work, compare rates to other designers, and be certain their design style is similar to yours! A person who specializes in mystery/horror isn’t going to share your love of contemporary YA.

4) You find the right print company: There are many companies that offer Print-On-Demand books. Research each carefully.

5) You are the marketing team: You’re the one who spends hour upon hour marketing your work without being overbearing though not a pushover either. Book trailers and blogs are two ways of inciting interest and spreading the word about what you’re doing. No book will sell without good marketing. Study those who have done well and try to implement a similar method. Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads are great places to meet everyone from critique partners to book bloggers to editors. Take advantage of them. You’ll walk away with lifelong friends who are just as passionate about writing as you are and want to see you succeed. A dedicated friend is a great marketer. Just please, don’t use people to get ahead. It won’t work, and it’s enormously off-putting.

With everything, ask other Indie’s what they liked or didn’t like about their choices. Seek out recommendations from authors you trust. And always compare rates and services!

As I said, going Indie was the best option for ME. You each should make your own decisions as to what you hope to accomplish, seek out all the right info, and make an informed choice. Above all else, never stop writing!

HAVEN, YA author Hope Collier’s debut comes out this summer! While I am completely biased–since I’m blessed to not only call her friend, but be one of her critique partners–I must say this paranormal ROCKS! Definitely be on the lookout for this one. In the meantime, follow Hope’s journey through her blog, A Lilliputian’s Journey to Publication and her Facebook Author Page

  • Great post! This really gives the rundown on what to consider, and how to go about doing it =D Can't wait for HAVEN to be out! <3

  • I know, right? On both counts!

    Thanks for coming by 🙂

  • Great information!! Super helpful and I'm excited to read Haven! <3

  • Thanks Sammie! Hope Rocks. Great information, in an easy to digest format. Love it 🙂

  • I'm just getting to the end of my first draft and have a long process of editing before me, but I found this post really informative. You did a great job in laying out the different options for a newbie. Thanks!

  • Thank you guys for the kind words! And, Rach, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this amazing week! It's been an honor.

  • GREAT post by a GREAT writer! 🙂

  • Stacy — editing is fun, isn't it? 🙂 But the road ahead is so exciting. Glad you stopped by!

    Hope — Thank YOU for being a part of it! Love the post, love you 🙂

    Tori — I know, right? he he

    Thanks Ladies!

  • Very insightful! Thanks 🙂

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  • always good to know that "next step" thanks for a great post and a return over and over post! I am sure to pass this blog along to all the "hopefuls" out there.