My Novel Draft is Done! (Now What?)

Hi everyone,

In August, I talked about my progress in writing my urban fantasy novel and my plans to self-publish it by May 2020. At the time, I was at 46,000 words, and I was optimistic I’d get through my draft sometime in the fall, but I knew I’d need to carve out more time to focus on my writing.

Today, I am thrilled to be able to say I have already finished it! At 69,000 words, I have written my very first novel! I can’t believe it. (I’ve been doing happy dances all day.)

It helped me a lot to know that my alpha reader was patiently waiting to receive the final section of the manuscript after I’d mercilessly left her at a cliffhanger. (Sorry about that, Suzanne!)

For some reason, the last few chapters kept flowing—probably because there were exciting scenes for me to write, and I couldn’t wait to get into that desk chair so I could follow my characters to the final showdown.

Coming in at 69,000 words was also wonderful because I’d targeted for 70,000 words. So close! I’d like to have a final version that’s around 80,000, and that shouldn’t be a problem. One of my discoveries as I’ve gone through this process is that I write lean. Every time I tackle a new scene, I start with reviewing and editing the scene from my previous writing session, and every time I did this, I found I was adding more words rather than taking them away. This surprised me at first, because most of the writers I know tell me they have the opposite problem—they keep needing to cut things out. It turns out I have a tendency to focus on character, dialogue, and plot, while some of the nuances of setting and description are things I fill in later. (I know there will be some cutting during my self-edit, though—including all the flabby verbs and unnecessary words I have inevitably written. There’s a reason why Anne Lamott calls it the “shitty first draft” in her excellent book Bird by Bird.)

So…I’ve written a novel now. (And eaten some chocolate to celebrate, of course.) Now what?

It would be so lovely if writing a draft meant you were done. (Ha!) It’s only the beginning. I outlined this story fairly thoroughly, so I feel like it’s in relatively decent shape, but I want it to be the best I can make it rather than rushing it out the door. So I’m setting it aside for a little bit, and then I’m going to do some self-editing before sending it on to some beta readers sometime in November. I’ve already lined up a couple of folks who love the urban fantasy genre, but I’m hoping to get more readers, so I can get a broad set of opinions from my main target audience. I also have a sensitivity reader on board. My novel is set in a fictionalized Canadian lakeside town that’s modeled after the diverse communities I’ve lived in, and I want to make sure I’m doing a good job of representing some of the characters who have experiences that are different than mine.

Then it’s on to professional editing! One of the nice things about being a member of Editors Canada is that I already know a lot of super friendly, highly qualified editors, and I’ve already booked a stylistic/copy edit in February with someone I admire who edits a lot in this genre. I’ve also reached out to another of my fantastic colleagues (who is a Certified Professional Editor with the association) for final proofreading in April. The best editors have a tendency to get booked up, so I wanted to be sure to grab them early!

The other key action I’m working on is booking a cover designer, since it’s a critical aspect of a self-published book. It’s amazing to think about seeing my main character on a cover next year!

Is that all that’s left to do? Nope!

Sometime between now and when I publish, I’ll need to work out the logistical details, including setting up a publisher name, grabbing some ISBNs (which are free for Canadian publishers, hurrah!), figuring out distributors, and so on.

Oh, and I also need to settle on the final title!

Right now I’m not finding this intimidating at all. Well, except for maybe the title thing. (Although I may have changed my mind in a few months!) Instead, I’m looking forward to exploring the entire process and joining my indie clients and friends in self-publishing my work. I know this is the right approach for me, and I also think it will be a fantastic learning experience.

Thanks, everyone, for listening to me babble on about my book. I hope this summer has treated you well, and I wish you all the best on your personal projects, whatever they may be! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how things are going as I get further along. (And if you happen to feel like beta reading an urban fantasy set in a small lakeside town that features a musician and her best friend, family challenges, quirky local characters, Buffy-like banter, and a ton of magical mayhem, then just drop me a line!)

Cheers,

Sue

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “My Novel Draft is Done! (Now What?)

Please join the conversation...I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s