You finished your NaNoWriMo project! Now what?
You finished your NaNoWriMo project. Congratulations! A first draft is an achievement worth celebrating, so sit back and enjoy it! Take a few days or weeks off. You deserve it. You just dumped 50,000 words or more out onto a Word document (or Google Doc or whatever) and you might have fried your brain a bit.
But what about after the celebration is over?
Well, for some, this adventure might have been practice. It might have been to prove to yourself that you can, indeed, write a novel. Or, you might want to get that thing published. Well, I’m talking to the latter of you. While some will revise before publishing or submitting to publishers/agents, others might get too eager, and I receive a few requests for editing that I turn down for one simple reason: Editors are not here to edit your rough drafts.
Would someone take a half-completed product and get it approved by the FDA? Would you take not-yet-ripe apples to the farmer’s market to sell? I’m sure you can think of a better one, but either way, your rough draft is not a completed manuscript. You have a beginning and an end, but you still have to make sure your invention works. You have to turn it on or go through trials to make sure it functions and all pieces are in place. In writing, that means you need to read through and fix simple misspellings you see, take out chapters that you remember only using as filler, and correcting that weird scene that you forgot to fix because you were trying to reach your word count. Fix what you know to fix. Make it the best you can make it. After that, you can start looking for an editor. Here’s an article to help you get started with revisions.
But, isn’t it an editor’s job to fix my story?
Yes, it is. But, why would you want your professor to tell you what you already know? “Cat isn’t spelled with a ‘k.’; You need quotations here because it’s dialogue.” Now that you’ve finished your NaNoWriMo story, take a break, but come back to it. Here’s an interview I hosted on deciding when you’re ready for an editor. Don’t head for the list of agents or editors. Now the hard part begins. You need to read through and revise. What you don’t find in your revisions, your editor should. That said, what you fix in your revisions isn’t less of a job for editors, either. Keep that in mind. Give your best so your editor/agent can deliver their best. And, make sure you ask for a sample. Most editors should offer a sample of their work, usually by editing something you send to them. But, here’s an article on finding and editor. You know . . . so I don’t have to repeat myself. 😉
So, how can we try to make this experience the best it can be? How can we meet in the middle and show our best work and expect the best in return? Revisions. Trust. Honesty. Take your time. The scary part is over, but the hard part is beginning now. Revise and make it the best you can make it. Then start seeking editors. Start sending your manuscript to agents and publishers. Query, query, query, and submit, submit, submit. If you’re self-publishing, look for multiple editors and get samples so you can choose the one that fits you best. Yes, different editors will fit different stories.
This is a rant, but for one good reason does it exist: I want your manuscript to be fantastic, and I want your story to be as good as it can possibly be. Together, you and your editor can do that, or you and your agent can get the manuscript into a publisher’s hands. Whatever your path is, take it. But don’t rush. You’ll get there.
NOTE: My prices are increasing at the beginning of next year. If you know you will want to talk to me about editing in the future, please fill out the form here and let me know in the details and you will automatically be on my grandfathered list so current prices will not change for you.
Also, if you finished your project, whether it’s a NaNoWriMo project or not, and you need help with direction, consider my Red Pen Consultation, a strictly read-and-discuss service I offer. You can find more details about it here.