First Novel Jitters: 6 Things To Do When You Finish Your Book


So, you’ve finished your first novel. Maybe, it happened easily, or after months and years of agonising fits and starts. Congratulations! It’s something that few people manage to do.

What happens next? Are you ready to send it off to publishers? Or to self-publish?

At Writers Write, we suggest you breathe. And reflect. This is not the end. It is just the end of the beginning in your journey as a novelist.

Before you do anything you might regret, consider these options:

  1. Put it on hold. Put it away for at least four weeks. Do not look at it. Do not edit it. You need to have a break from the project that has consumed you for a long time. After your break, read it with new eyes, as if you are a reader picking it up for the first time.
  2. Keep it as proof of an apprenticeship. You have to write for 10 000 hours before you can write well. You need to write millions of words to become a great novelist. Sometimes, it’s good to get your first novel out of the way. You could consider it a practice run for your career.
  3. Send it off for an appraisal. You may want to pay for this from a professional service. You could also join a writer’s group to get feedback on the manuscript.
  4. Take a writing course. We know this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s a good way to see if you’ve covered the basics of good novel writing. It will also help you when you’re editing.
  5. Set up an editing timetable. You may need to rewrite chunks of your book. You may need to edit. You may need to proofread. You probably need to do all three of these. Remember that this may take a while. Sometimes, the rewriting takes more time and energy than writing the first draft.
  6. Get a professional edit. If you can afford it, we really recommend this. The editor will be see things you are unable to see. This will give you a polished, professional final draft.

Well done. You’ve started your journey and we wish you lots of success with your book. If you are looking for literary agents, appraisers, and publishers, read our FAQs

If you want to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Amanda Patterson

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