Finished Writing My Book—Now What?

Here are steps to take once you have finished writing your manuscript.

by Adam G. Fleming

First, congratulations. Some bloggers estimate that only 3% of all those who start writing a book ever finish. Others say, how can we possibly collect the data on all the books that are started—when people typically don’t report their failure to complete something they set out to do?

We’ll tackle the primary question in this article assuming that this is your first book, because if you’ve written one before, there’s a good chance you figured out what to do with it. 


Get it edited and proofread

If you’ve already done this, skip ahead, but if not, read on. Think you’re a pretty good writer? A good storyteller with good grammar and punctuation? Maybe you are. We certainly hope so! But be cautious: it’s very easy to think that you’re better at writing than you really are. That’s normal. Social psychologists Dunning and Kruger discovered that most people think they are better than average at driving a car, and observed this phenomenon, called the Dunning-Kruger Effect: more people than average believe they are better than average, when statistically speaking, exactly half of the people are below average. I do not say this to be discouraging. Even writers who are well above average improve significantly when they take the time to get professional feedback, including content editing and proofreading. I have read novels by authors who have become so famous that their publisher neglected to edit their work carefully, and it showed: they had problems including spelling errors, continuity errors, and even redundancies. So it really doesn’t matter if you’re average, above, or below average. You need an editor. In fact, every blog we produce at Victory Vision goes through an editor. If you want an editor who will help you improve your work or need a proofreader to polish it up, get in touch with us; our team is ready to help. 

Determine the potential audience

If you didn’t ask yourself this question before you started writing, you need to ask it now. Who is the book for? Caution: don’t say “everyone.” If you had someone read a draft and they liked it, there are two critical questions to ask: 

  1.  Did they say they liked it because they love you and didn’t want to hurt your feelings, or are they the kind of person who would shoot straight with you? 
  2. What is it about them? 

You can figure out the answer to the first question on your own; the second one may require a bit more probing. Is your appreciative reader a fantasy nut and will read any fantasy book? Are they at just the right age range to appreciate your work, say, 13 to 15? Does your book teach something they needed to learn? And if so, who else like them would need to learn that thing? For example, they were interested in your book because of your expertise in the plumbing industry—and therefore other plumbers would also learn from it—but bakers and candlestick makers would not? Or, is it well suited for all tradespeople or business owners? How niche is the audience, or how broad? If you’re not sure about the potential audience, get in touch with us and we’ll help you out. 

The reason is: this could make a difference in whether or not you should try to publish traditionally, self-publish, or use a hybrid solution (like Victory Vision Publishing). No matter which you do, you’ll have to promote it yourself. That’s just the reality of publishing today. See our blog titled Traditional, Hybrid, or Self-Publishing: Which Model is Best for You?

Determine your goals

Are you writing to make a million dollars on the book itself? (Sure, that would be nice, but is it the main objective, really?) Do you want to make a difference in the life of one child, sell your consulting services, leave a memoir for your grandchildren, or just tick a bucket list box? How much are you committed to learning how to promote your book? 

Along with your potential audience, your goals could make a big difference in determining what to do with the book. It might even mean that you want to get the book in all formats, including audiobook, or it might mean that the least expensive option you can find will be your best. 

Query or proposal

If you want a traditional publishing contract, you’ll need to write a “query letter” for a fiction book and a “proposal” for a non-fiction book, which you’d send to literary agents. Beware: there is probably less than a 2% chance that an agent will take you on—and they don’t always find a buyer for your book when they do. The traditional publishing world is getting tougher to crack into even as the self-publishing world opens up to more and more people. 

DIY and launch on Kickstarter or Amazon

One of the biggest reasons people hire us is they don’t want to have to figure out how to do everything themselves: find a book cover designer who can make them a quality design, layout the book for ebook and for print, purchase an ISBN, the list goes on. Many of the things you’ll have to do in the DIY space are trickier than you might imagine; learning to do all of them can frustrate people so thoroughly that they quit. And how to launch? If you want to DIY, the simplest thing to do is put it up on Amazon; although, if you plan to market it extensively you’ll also want to put it on Ingram Spark and/or Lulu to enable broader distribution since indie bookstores and libraries won’t offer it if it’s only available on Amazon. 

One of our favorite ways to launch a book is to use Kickstarter for pre-sales. Last week's blog gave a taste of what that can be like.

Adam G. Fleming, PCC, is an ICF certified coach and trainer. He has trained people in coaching skills around the world and has also led other seminars as speaker and facilitator. Using both traditional and DIY methods, Adam has published 13 books in a variety of genres, and serves as the CEO and lead ghostwriter for Victory Vision Publishing, Inc. He lives in Goshen, Indiana, with his wife Megan and their four children. Contact:

Interested in getting to the next step? Click here for a free discovery meeting with Adam.

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