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A topic that I get asked about all the time is what to do after you’re done with that first draft. Many new writers don’t realize how much work it takes to go from finishing that draft to published, and some don’t even realize they have anything to do. There was a day where a first draft might have gotten you a publishing deal if you were an amazing writer, but those days are long gone and have been replaced by either a lot of hard work and some money (indie publishing) or hard work and time (traditional publishing).

This week’s topic on post-first draft process comes from Kaylie Esther Rosenberry, a member of Writers Helping Writers on Facebook. She asks:

I’ve just finished the Rough Draft to my the 1st book in my fantasy/adventure series (my 1st novel – working on the 2nd as well). What is my next step? I have several beta-readers already lined up and reading as we speak, hopefully. 🙂 What’s next? My plan is to pursue a more traditional publication instead of self-publishing.

I hope this episode helps you, Kaylie, as well as anyone else who is curious about what to do next!

Show Notes (unedited copy of the show notes for SEO)

  • Imagine this; you’ve been working hard on your very first manuscript for sometime now and you’ve finally finished your rough draft.
  • You know it still has a long way to go, and have some friends reading over it who you know will both tell you if it’s good or not, but also be gentle and understanding at the same time.  After all, it is just a rough draft.
  • But, where do you go from there?
  • Hello everyone, I’m Jeremy Collier, this is episode 3 of the Authorpreneur Mindset.
  • A small personal update on me: I got sick this week, again. It seems like about once a month or so I come down with something.
  • Websites at Steam Powered Dreams is just about to be launched and will be by the time this is released. It’s a great service for authors who want a full website on a budget. Use code Podcast to get 15% off.


  • Today’s topic comes from Kaylie Esther Rosenberry who says “I’ve just finished the Rough Draft to my the 1st book in my fantasy/adventure series (my 1st novel – working on the 2nd as well). What is my next step? I have several beta-readers already lined up and reading as we speak, hopefully. 🙂 What’s next? My plan is to pursue a more traditional publication instead of self-publishing.
  • THank you for the question, Kaylie, and the short answer is edit and rewrite until you can’t feel your fingers any more.
  • I’m kidding of course, but there is still a lot to do before you even think about submitting to an agent or publisher, and even more to do if you end up self publishing.
  • Since you already have beta readers who are reading your book, that’s a great place to start, but let me caution everyone on giving your book to beta readers too early.  
  • Many times, you only have one shot with a beta reader, so you want that book to be as well written as you can possibly do alone before you hand it to them. This might mean 3 or 4 rounds of edits/rewrites, or just a single one, it’s different for each author, but that’s where you should start.
  • After Beta Readers, it’s time to really think about their feedback and implement what you think is important.
  • Then, you have the option of seeking out a Developmental Editor.  The benefits is that this is a professional who has built a career on knowing what’s good and what’s not in a book, usually specific to a genre even.  The bad news is that they do cost quite a bit and if you have very little budget for your book, it is better spent later.
  • Once you’ve been through beta readers and developmental editing and fixed all the little plot holes and mistakes you can, that’s when it’s time for a copyeditor.
  • Now, some people will tell you that you shouldn’t pay for editing prior to submitting to a publisher, but times have changed and most publishers won’t look past page one unless it’s as near to perfect as it can be. Spend the money to get your copy edits done, you won’t regret it.
  • While your copy editing is going on, start researching agents or publishers.  If you’re looking at small press or medium press, they tend to not require agents, and many of them prefer not to have them at all, but all the bigger names won’t even look in your direction unless you have one.
  • If you are going with an agent, they will know which publishers to submit your work to, so you don’t have to worry about researching both.
  • Then, you wait.  It may be weeks or months, but you wait.  The rejections will start coming in and that should feel good, because that means you have people reading your work.  
  • Read each one, especially those that have constructive criticism, and then move on.  
  • LIsten to your agent when they say something might need to be done, either altering parts of your story or whatever it is, since they know the industry best.
  • Then, one day, you’ll finally get that letter that tells you they will publish you.
  • After that, the process  is different for every author and can last anywhere between 6 months to 2 years before your book is actually out there. There will be negotiations over royalty, rights, cover, sections of your story that they want you to rewrite, rounds of editing, and possibly even months of silence, but once that contract is signed, it will happen.
  • You will be a published author, and it feels great!  But it doesn’t quite stop there.
  • Another thing that has changed is these days the author is required to do their own marketing.  The publisher will put you on their website, promote you to their mailing list, but probably won’t spend very much money on advertising.  
  • Make sure you talk with them about what you can do, but generally making sure to reach out to all your social networks, friends, and family to buy your book within the release window (usually 2-3 weeks).  The more downloads and reviews you get in that window, the more likely you are to be promoted by your publisher to a greater extent.
  • There is something you cannot forget, though, that you should be doing throughout this whole process, and it’s the most important step any author can take, whether you want to be self-published or traditionally published, and that’s to start writing your next book.  
  • By the time you have your first book published, you should be well on your way to finishing your second.
  •  I hope this helps answer your questions, Kaylie.
  • If you have questions, there’s two ways to reach me.  The first is through the website at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset and then click on Ask A Question.
  • The second is to join our facebook group at facebook.com/SPDwritershelpingwriters
  • You can also find me:
    • on Twitter at SoulScribbler,
    • on Instagram at authorpreneurmindset
    • on Facebook at facebook.com/jeremylcollier
  • Until next week, I am your host Jeremy and don’t forget to keep moving forward.

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