The Complete Elation and Fear of Finishing Your Manuscript.

The steps to complete and publish a novel.

This is not only an update on my writing but an opportunity for me to share some of the thoughts and feelings I had. Previously, I have written a children’s book. This is, however, the first adult novel I have written. I would describe it as a mix of genre’s, crime and horror.

Carving out Time.

As many of us know, when you have a full-time job, writing has to happen when you can. Over the last couple of years, I have sneaked time when I can. One of the factors I found helped me the most was to write on my phone. For many writers this is difficult, for me it is essential. Although I haven’t got the same editing ability on my phone, I can write the bare bones of a novel down.

Writing on your phone allows you to make the most of the moments you have. Waiting for an appointment, lunch breaks. There are plenty of times when you can grab ten minutes to add a couple of paragraphs. It is surprising how all these minutes add up.

Towards the end of the novel, I had to step away from my blogging for a couple of weeks. Trying to write a novel whilst posting every day to Medium was not easy. To finally finish the novel I had to take a week off Medium.

If you are considering this, my advice is to go for it. My earnings did not take a considerable hit. There was no change if I had taken longer off my earnings would have dropped. As it was a week, my past articles kept me earning. The one activity I did do was to promote the older articles. This is essential to keep your income consistent.

The Journey

I have written this book twice. I started three years ago on the first draft. Then I become a professional blogger and forgot about the manuscript. Not surprising when I revisited the first draft I realised how awful it was. Over time my writing skills had improved, my first draft was very poor. Putting in place all the skills I had learnt I then rewrote the book for the second draft.

I am not even sure what draft I am on now. The book has been edited and reworked so many times. As writers this is essential. The idea might be good, the writing poor. Use your time to keep developing your work until you are happy. If this is your first book, no one has set you a deadline. You can take your time to polish, polish and polish again. When you are published and writing a sequel, then you may have a deadline. I would still advise, not to let the work out until you are happy.

I’m not sure you will ever be completely happy, but you get the idea.

Feelings on Finishing.

When I finally saved the file and thought that is it time for the next stage, I had a range of feelings. Elation and relieve were two. I also had an immense feeling of pride. When you complete your novel, you have accomplished something. If it never gets published this shouldn’t take away from the achievement. You have sat at a desk and completed a whole story. Not everyone can say that.

Once the dancing round the garden is completed you may feel what I did, complete fear. I have grown and nurtured this book, now I need to let it out into the world. Nerve-racking. As writers, this is where you have to grow a thick skin. This book is going to get criticism. There is no point in giving it to beta-readers if you are not going to take their feedback to improve your work.

Work with people that you trust, that will make taking criticism easier. For me, I have a friend who has offered to do a soft edit for me. I love her writing and trust her, so it was easy to send the novel to her. If you are interested in editing services check Lisa Tomey out. Besides this, my first two beta-readers are my partner and my mother. I trust both of them. My mum is an avid reader so I am both excited and nervous at her reading the book.

Funny story – my partner read the first five chapters of my book before I gave it to my mum. The book is quite gruesome in places. Her advice was to tell my mum that it was gruesome and that I wasn’t a psychopath.

Can you imagine if the police ever got hold of any search histories, most of us would be under suspicion? My searches include, how to tie a man up like a pig and what drugs knock people out.

Next Steps

Here are the next steps for my novel as I see it. I would suggest that other writers look at this as a good process to do.

  1. Have a soft-edit of my novel.
  2. Make changes suggested from the soft edit and my two beta-readers.
  3. Send the book to a group of beta-readers. Start working on the synopsis and query letters.
  4. Make the necessary changes.
  5. Full-edit of the book.
  6. Query both publishers and agents, attempt to secure a traditional publishing deal.

Back-up Plan

This novel is too precious to let it sit on a shelf. I am too proud of the work to let it collect dust. If I am unable to secure a publisher I will commission a cover and publish myself.

I always pay for the cover to be designed. You can find reasonable options for covers on Fiverr. Graphic design is not one of my strengths which is why I pay for it. As writers, we should recognise our strengths and weaknesses.

Another important factor is to get outside editors. As an editor, it is difficult to edit your work. Your brain tends to see what should be there, rather than what is there. A professional-looking book is essential.

Having completed your manuscript, if you think the hard work is completed you would be wrong. Marketing the book will be essential, whichever route you take. I am determined not to rush the last stages. I need the book to be the best it can before I sent it out. Remember you only get one opportunity to make a first impression.

Are you writing a book? Where are you in the publishing process?

Sam H Arnold is a UK writer and blogger. Click here to take you writing to the next level and start earning three figures a month.  To follow all her work find her on Facebook or join her Email List for a copy of her writing tips book.

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