In November, 2011, I finished the first draft of my first novel. I was excited. I was sad. I was scared. I was excited because, hey! I finished my first novel. I was sad because after working on the manuscript for two years I had gotten to know my characters, spent many, many hours of quality time with them and they had become my friends.
And I was scared because, like so many writers who finish their first novel, I had no idea what to do next. All I knew for sure was, “I want to publish this book!”
Now what is next?
Not knowing what to do, I started searching for advice on-line reading up on what to do next. I knew the manuscript wasn’t ready for submission, but that was among my next steps. And the advice I read scared me. Everyone talks about having a large social network to whom you can promote your own book. I don’t have a large social network. Everyone talks about sending query letters to agents. I don’t know what a query letter is, let alone where to find agents. And of course, common sense tells me that my manuscript needs to be pretty damn near perfect before I submit it to anyone. I think it’s pretty great, but who’s to say that other people will?
And now “they” read it
So I set about finding people to read my manuscript, knowing that I might be less than thrilled with the feedback I got and knowing that I needed to have at least some feedback from a specific type of audience which may be harder to find than I might like. I gave my finished manuscript to three or four personal friends and asked them to read it and give me their honest feedback.
Find people like me?
Earlier this year, on the advice of a friend of a friend, I began a writing workshop in which I can submit up to 75 pages over three separate submissions to have the group read and critique. It’s been interesting and beneficial, but somewhat disappointing as well. Since my manuscript is 418 pages and the participants are only seeing 25 pages at a time, it’s hard for them to get a full picture of what I’ve created and how it all ties together. I’ve learned a lot from the group though and I believe my revisions will be valuable.
Now I just have to figure out what my query letters should include and to whom I should send them. My one and only goal for 2012 is to publish this book and I intend to do my very best to make that happen.
E. S. Kelly is a blogger and aspiring writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s a big fan of all things Superman and works as Emergency Response Coordinator and safety know-it-all. When he’s not busy saving the day, he’s the human to a 20 year old feline and mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. E.S and his Little Brother are big movie buffs and can usually be found on Sunday afternoons at a local cinema.