(Part 2) I Finished My Novel…Now What?

I finished my novel...now what?

Ever feel like publishing your book is like looking down a tall building from the top of the roof? Even if you’re afraid of heights, publishing your novel could seem like a more daunting task than sitting on the edge of a high roof.

I often get asked about how to publish a book since I have (at this time) eleven titles on Amazon and other online retailers.

In Part One, we discussed the first things an author should after finishing the first draft of their novel – or book, if writing nonfiction. So if you haven’t read that yet, hop on over and give it a read before finishing up here.

Beta Readers

Once you’ve completed the steps outlined in the first part, it’s now time to have other people read your story. I’m not talking about your mom or best friend, either – unless your mom and best friend will tell you how it is. This isn’t the time you need your ego boosted.

You need to hear what the story needs improving – we all do. You need to hear its weaknesses so you can fix them before it goes to publication. Before the reviews come in that won’t go away. Not sure what kind of feedback to ask from the beta readers? Use my in-depth Beta Reader Questionnaire.

Warning: the first time you receive feedback from your beta readers, it might hurt a little. Actually, it should. If it doesn’t, you might need to get some more betas to look at your work.  Trust me, it will get easier. I appreciate my beta readers‘ honesty. It helps to make my story better, and I’m far more concerned about that than my feelings, anyway.

You should let your beta readers know what type of feedback you’re looking for. Maybe you have different groups of beta readers for different stages of the editing process. I do.

You may get lucky and find a beta reader or two who do great editing. That will save you time and money.

Another option is to join a critique group. You find them online or in person. A popular one is Critique Circle.

Writer’s groups

Joining writer’s groups is a great way to stay up to date on on the happenings of the ever-changing world of publishing as well as getting feedback on your writing. There are different groups for different purposes.

You can find groups both online and off, and if you’re as busy as many writers, you’ll probably be glad to know you have a lot to choose from on the great, big internet. Facebook has a lot of them. You can find forums with a specific focus, such as romance writers. A great general board is Kboards.


Now that you have (hopefully a lot of good) feedback from your beta readers, it’s time to pull up your sleeves and get dirty. You don’t have to make every change suggested. You’re the author, and you know your story. You’re going to have to go through and decide what feedback you’re going to put into action.

However, I would advise that if you hear something repeatedly – listen up! I guarantee you’ll see the same issues brought up in the reviews, which will affect your sales.

Professional Cover

Now is the time for getting your cover ready. There are a lot of options when it comes to book covers. You can hire someone to create one from scratch, you can purchase a pre-made cover for a lower price, or you can even create on yourself.

Warning: If you only have Microsoft Paint, please don’t create your own cover. People do judge a book by its cover, and it’s your first opportunity to grab a potential reader’s interest.

Also, if you do have a program for creating covers, don’t just slap something together. Spend hours studying book covers. Follow book and cover boards on Pinterest, you can even start your own board. Pin covers that you like so you can come back to it when you’re ready to start. You can see good covers on Monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards and read the feedback on why some covers work and others don’t.

I personally love DIY Book Covers. Derek Murphy (Joanna Penn’s cover designer) put together a wonderful package of templates that you can use as a base for creating your own covers using Microsoft Word. It’s well worth the investment. Like I said, I love it. (No affiliate links…just genuine love!)

Something else to do is to look at what not to do with book covers. There is a website that only posts horrible book covers.

Look into Promotion

One of the best ways to get more readers is to get others with audiences to share about your book. This isn’t about being spammy. There are various ways to get your book in front of eager audiences:

  • Ads
  • Tours
  • Guest posts
  • Seek reviewers
  • Get creative
  • Ask other authors what’s worked for them

Outside Editing

Whether you use paid editing or not, you need to have your book edited. I don’t want to start a debate here, you’ll probably soon find out that this can become a heated topic.

If you can’t afford to pay for a professional editor (which can run over $1,000 per book, depending on the book’s length and the rates of any given editor), you do have options. You might get lucky and find beta readers who are knowledgeable and have editing experience. You can trade services. Some people have agreed on royalty sharing. Just get it edited.

Prepare Back Matter

Do you know what you’re going to put in the back of your book? The first thing after the story ends is the most important. It may be the only piece of back matter many readers look at.

Are you going to provide a link to your newsletter sign up? That’s important because if they sign up, they’ll receive the email when you let your readers know about your next release.

Will you have a list of your other books…or the books that you’re working on? Links to your social  media accounts?

Make sure the back matter is set up before you’re ready to publish.

Where to Publish

If you’re going the self-publishing route, you need to decide where you’re going to publish. The main question is: will you publish everywhere or go exclusive with Amazon?

Most people agree that KDP Select (Amazon’s exclusive program) has limited benefits. It used to be the best way to go, but now it does little offer most authors added visibility.

I’m not going to get into the details here (you can read about it yourself) but making your book widely available is a good idea. It doesn’t make sense at this point in the game to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Other retailers to consider:

Best of luck to you!

I hope these posts have been helpful. Do you have other questions? Feel free to ask in the comments!

Image by Evil Erin

10 thoughts on “(Part 2) I Finished My Novel…Now What?

  1. Pingback: I Finished My Novel…Now What? (Part 1)

  2. joe arrigo

    My experience has been that it’s difficult to write a book, more difficult to get it published (unless you self-publish), and more difficult yet to sell it. I’ve published two books with American Star Books. They are open to new authors, and costs you nothing…far better than self-publishing.
    joe arrigo invites you to read… One Way Manned Flight to MarsMy Profile


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