In the month of April, tons of writers set goals for themselves and wrote every day through the Camp NaNoWriMo program. Personally, I wrote 30,000 words in April, getting about a third of the fifth draft of my novel rewritten.
Others set higher goals for themselves and were able to finish their entire novel. It's an amazing feat, but one that often leads to some pretty terrible mistakes by first time novelists.
If you recently finished your novel make sure you don't fall into this traps!
Sending Your Book To An Agent
This same mistake applies to sending your book to a publishing house or self publishing or publishing it in an online serial type of formal.
You just finished writing the first draft of your novel. To be blunt: this is the worst state your novel could possibly be in. It's not ready to be published.
In fact, no writer regardless of their fame or success has ever published the first draft of their novel. It needs editing and revision before it's ready to be printed and sold in stores. You can chose to do this editing on your own or you can hire an editor like me, who will give you professional advise about where to go next.
Jumping Into The Next One
Personally, I've never been one to jump from one project to another. Usually because by the time I actually finish my novel, I'm absolutely exhausted. I'm also probably at my lowest, self-esteem wise.
But other people are much more motivated and may want to jump into the next novel in their series as soon as possible. I'd advise you to take a break. Watch TV, read a book, take a walk.
Chances are, your creative well is dry and it may need a few days to fill up. Plus, if you end up making serious revisions on your first novel it will almost certainly affect your second. If you NEED to write new work in between edits, try challenging yourself to write a short story every week instead.
Keeping Your Book Private
You just completed a HUGE task! Great job. Revel in it a bit!
I'm not saying you should go ahead and post your whole novel on your blog or send a copy to every you know, as we talked about earlier it's not really ready for everyone to read yet.
But maybe you can brag a bit on social media and add that accomplishment to your bio. If you have a friend who also writes or is an avid reader, you might consider sending your draft to them to get some general thoughts and feedback. If you don't have a friend available to help you, professional editors are used to working with first drafts and can be helpful in the early stages of revision.
Hurrying To Edit
For me, I can't even read my own book for a few weeks at least. I'm just tired of it after working on it for so long and ever word sounds like crap until I can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Instead of rushing to turn your draft into a masterpiece, print out your story, put it in a desk drawer for a while, and come back later. Read the full manuscript printed out, like you would a normal book. You'll read it differently than you would on your computer screen and you'll be able to make notes as you go along.
Then, put your book down again for some time and come back later to make those changes . Giving yourself plenty of space will keep you from getting frustrated or doubting yourself.
Not Picking It Up Again
On the flip side of my last point, don't leave your novel in that desk drawer forever. You worked hard to finish it and while it's easy to get discouraged as you read through what is likely a very rough draft, remember you at one time were passionate about this story. Enough so that you spent the time and energy to put it all down on paper. Push yourself through that doubt and find your passion again.
The most important thing here, is: OH MY GOD! You finished a novel.
Don't forget what a huge accomplishment this is. Just don't let your excitement force you to make a mistake you may regret later on.
The most difficult part of the process, editing and revision, are ahead of you, but don't let that discourage you. Remember there are resources available to you, like writing communities and professional editors ready to encourage you and take your manuscript to the next level.