Finished Writing for NaNoWriMo? Now What?

As the end of National Novel Writing Month approaches, you might wonder: Now what? Should you submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher? Should you hold onto it for a few months, edit it and then submit? Or should you self-publish?

There isn’t one right or wrong answer.

However, there are elements that will affect the outcome! Here are a few to consider:

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (or maybe not)
Did I write this? That’s what you ask yourself — either in horror or delight — when you read something you wrote a few months earlier. The point is, you’ll be a lot more objective after you’ve had time away from your manuscript. You will have a critical eye and perhaps fresh new ideas that will benefit your story. Personally, every time I’ve returned to work on a manuscript, it’s always been for the better.

Enough is Enough!
But… if you’re like me, you probably could tinker with your manuscript for the next 10 years. The never-ending evolving story. At a certain point, you have to let it go. There isn’t a magic formula to know exactly when this might be, unfortunately. But if you have edited as you wrote, edited again when you finished writing, set the story aside and then returned to edit… You might be close!

Advice Can Be… Confusing!
If a few experienced editors are telling you the same thing (your sentences are too long, your characters are boring or your novel lacks structure, for example), you might want to sit down and make some changes. However, if you find that everyone who has read your manuscript has completely different comments, stop, reread and follow your instincts. Ideally, at this point, either a writing teacher or editor you trust can offer you the best advice.

Agent, Publisher or Me?
Once your manuscript is as polished as possible, there are three paths. You can submit your manuscript to a literary agent, submit your manuscript to a publishing house that takes direct submissions or self-publish your work. As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t one right answer. The advantage of a literary agent is he or she can submit your manuscript to the larger publishing houses. But just because you have an agent doesn’t mean he or she will actually be able to sell your book. The advantage of a smaller publishing house is you can submit directly and often see your book on the market pretty rapidly. The disadvantage is your publisher might not have the resources to get you on the “Today” show. The positive argument for self-publishing is you have complete control over every aspect of your book and a higher percent of royalties. The negative: being multi-talented enough to do each task — and then find a way to market your book with as much credibility as a third party would have.

Whatever you decide, I hope National Novel Writing Month carried your writing to the next level and left you feeling inspired (and not just exhausted!).

Adria J. Cimino is the author of two soon-to-be released novels and is co-founder of indie publishing house Velvet Morning Press. She spent more than a decade as a journalist at news organizations including The AP and Bloomberg News. Adria writes about her real-life adventures on her blog Adria in Paris.

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