It’s exciting to finish a novel, but it’s common for people not know what to do next. Do they submit it to publishers? Do they post the whole thing on reddit or Wattpad? Do they print off a dozen copies and hand them to random people on the street?
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be walking through what to do once your novel is done. Like with writing itself, there are nearly as many different methods as there are authors. But the advice I’m giving here is what I’ve seen work for the most people, and if you stick with it, is the most likely to give a satisfactory result.
(Note: Portions of this have previously been adapted into the FAQ on /r/writing.)
First, you need to take a break. Even though writing is fun, you need some time off before you start working on your novel again.
Next, you’ll start with a big picture rewrite. Rewriting is important, because you almost certainly made significant changes as you went, and there are probably big plotholes to fill in.
After that, you’ll do it again. Once more, with feeling. This time, you’ll look at slightly more detailed elements, including character descriptions.
The next step is to ask someone else to help. Learning how to share your work is important to be sure that it’s ready to publish.
After some polishing, you’re ready to go line by line. This step takes quite a bit more work, but it gets your book ready to share more widely.
Check back on Mondays for further steps in the process.