Friday, February 12, 2016

Now What?

A popular post from December 2010

By Julie Wright and Phyllis Towzey

So You've written A Book . . . Now What?

With Nanowrimo behind us, there are many new authors with their first books under their belts wondering what to do with all these newly written words. I belong to several online writer's groups, one of which is a teen author's group that daily gives me good information about the market and writing. recently a new author asked the question, "Now what?" And one of the other writers, Phyllis Towzey, gave such a great answer, that I'd like to repeat it here (with her permission). Phyllis is the sort of person who is always there to congratulate people and offer help when she can. She is awesome. Just sayin . . .

First off--congratulations on completing a new book!

Second, I'd advise you not to be too quick to get it out there. You should take a step back and not even look at it for at least a few weeks, then go back and read it again with an eye to polishing it, layering in more details where needed, cutting out scenes or descriptions that aren't necessary, etc.
Use the two weeks or so that you are not working on it to research agents who represent that type of book, and select 5 or 6 you like. (You can research agents through websites and blogs -- once you find a few good agent blogs, they usually link to other agent blogs, and all of those link to their agency websites). Another good way to find an agent is to subscribe to Publishers
Marketplace. It's online and costs $20 per month, and you can go to the Dealmakers section and search the type of book you write and find out what agents have made sales. Also, PM sends you emails with industry news and deals. Well worth the investment, IMO.

Then I would have a couple people "beta read" it for you. I use a friend who is an avid reader of the type of books I write, and a writer-friend, and get their input, consider it, and if you agree, make more revisions.
(Little aside from Julie here: Beta readers are absolute gold! Put your ego aside and really consider the advice they give. I'm not saying you have to make all the changes they ask for, but I am saying to be honest with yourself even when it bruises your pride. Be willing to make changes. Accept it as a challenge to do better.)

While you are waiting to hear back from your beta readers, search the 5 or 6 agents you've identified on sites like Absolute Write (, and Predators and Editors ( make sure there's not any bad stuff about them (if there is, cross them off your list). (You don't want to sign with an agent who charges fees, or has been identified as a 'scam' agent).

Write a synopsis of your book.
(aside from Julie again: Take this one seriously too. The synopsis and the query are sometimes ALL the agent/editor will see of your writing. Be thorough. Do a good job. Make sure you get it right.)

Then follow the agents' guidelines for sending a query. Most take queries by email, but some don't. Some want you to send part of your manuscript and a synopsis with the query, but most just want the query.

Then wait to hear back, and meanwhile start working on your next book. :)

And above all, don't get discouraged. It takes a while to find an agent, and even longer to find a publisher. If you aren't getting any requests on your queries, then look at your query and ask other writers to review it for you -- maybe it could be stronger. (That's why I say start with just 5 or 6 agents -- you don't want to send out a hundred queries, then realize your query sucked, and meanwhile all those agents have passed on your project).

Hope this helps!

- Phyllis

Julie again: See what I mean? Phyllis is awesome, and her advice absolutely spot on. If you've just finished a book, don't be too anxious to jump into submissions. Make it the best you can first. I would only add that it is important to hook into writing communities. Get involved in online communities, go to a conference or two, get a critique group. the friendships you build in the community will make all the difference. I promise you that.

Does anyone else have any advice for new writers? This is a good time to be putting that advice out there.


Heather B. Moore said...

Excellent advice. I agree that it's a good idea to take a step back from your newly completed manuscript. Also to have others read and critique for you. It might take several weeks for alpha readers to do that for you, but the wait will be worth it.

Cynthia Sherrick said...

Great advice, Phyllis and Julie! Thank you for such an informative post. :)

Vicki said...

Great post! Thanks Phyllis and Julie.

Anna Small said...

It's great that this young author has completed an entire manuscript! That's an accomplishment in itself. I would like to add that my first published book is actually my 7th completed novel. Not saying that your first written won't be the first published, but this is not the industry where you want to rush. I can't agree with the other commenters more - join writing groups, learn as much as you can, and keep writing!