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First Draft Complete… Now What?

I read a post this morning in an authors’ forum that caught my attention. The writer was complaining about the downtime after completing a manuscript. Actually, he wasn’t complaining as much as lamenting the loss of the motivation that comes with waking up each morning to a story that demands your attention and the euphoria you feel with its completion. In this post, I will share some thoughts on what you might do to keep your mind engaged and words flowing while your draft is off with the editors.

I never seem to have the time for boredom or complacency; there is just way too much to do. Writing is a full-time job and self-publishing is like a second career. Add blogging into the mix and there is little time left in any given day.

Before we delve into productive things you can do while waiting for your editors to respond, let’s talk briefly about what you shouldn’t do:

1. Don’t edit your manuscript!

Still fresh in your mind and with new thoughts occurring every day, the temptation will be to make a few tweaks to your draft. Resist the urge! A few tweaks can easily turn into an entire revision. Even if they are not charging you money, which they probably are, your editors are expending valuable time reviewing your manuscript. Sending them a new revision before you have even looked at their input on your first is a waste of their time and insulting.

2. Don’t allow your skills to atrophy.

In one form or another, keep writing. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take a well-earned break. I often take a celebratory week or two off after completing a manuscript. The point here is that break or no break, you should stay active within the scope of your craft. Read a good book, share some blog posts or toy with new novel ideas.

3. Don’t watch the clock.

An impatient child, my mother would tell me: “the watch-pot never boils.” It takes time for your editors to make their way through your manuscript during a critical review. Be patient and afford them the time they need to get the job done right.

Here is a shortlist of productive things you can do with your time while waiting on editors:

1. Start a new project!

When one book ends, another begins. Perhaps you can begin to work on a sequel or an entirely new story. Either way, with the creative juices already flowing and time on your hands, this is the perfect opportunity to get started on something new.

2. Solicit author interviews.

Many bloggers within the industry enjoy the opportunity to interview an author. This is a great way to get your name out there as well as the perfect chance to create hype about your upcoming novel.

3. Promote your other works.

Use a portion of this time to promote the other novels you have written. Run some free or discounted promotions on a variety of platforms. Set up a book signing at your local library or a community bookstore. Generate more interest in you as an author prior to the release of your new book.

4. Post reviews on the books you have read.

Like you, authors appreciate receiving reviews on their novels. Whenever you finish reading a book, take the time to post a thoughtful review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other platforms. Those who read and appreciate your review will remember your name. You might even make some incredible connections. How, for example, would you feel if you posted a well-thought-out review for Stephen King’s latest novel and he returned the favor on your next book? Stranger things have happened.

5. Work on the details for publication.

When your manuscript is written, there is still much work to be done. Use some of this time to prepare yourself for publication. Design your cover or contract someone to do it for you. Write an insightful and intriguing synopsis. Consider adding a prologue or epilogue. Get all of your front and back matter in order while you have the chance.

There is so much we can do while waiting on those first editorial comments to arrive. The key is to stay active and productive within the craft while you are waiting.

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