Tuesday, August 27, 2013

So You Wrote a Novel...Now What?

“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
Andy Warhol

Writers enjoy analogies and different ones have been used to describe the feeling that we get after our novel has gone out into the world. Depending on who you ask, it's like giving birth, running a marathon or climbing a mountain. However you describe it, there is a sense of accomplishment that is gratifying and frustrating at the same time. Once the book is out the door and your bank account is (hopefully) being flooded with royalties, what should you do next? I have a few ideas on both what to do and what not to do in the afterglow of your literary orgasm. These ideas are not in any order of importance. They’re just something to consider when taking your next step.

Things to Do After Your Novel is Released
  • Keep supporting the book with post launch marketing (See Marketing the Independent Novel)
  • Get yourself a vacation, a drink, a massage or some other indulgence to celebrate your achievement. Despite what self-publishing pessimists say, not everyone can write a book.
  • Thank the people who helped you. Despite the name, self-publishing isn't something that most people can do alone.
  • Reconnect with your friends, lovers and anyone else you might have neglected while you were working on your novel
  • If you're the type who neglects or abuses themselves during the creative process, this is a good time to see a doctor, therapist, personal trainer or nutritionist
  • Find out what happened in the world while you were away, as long as it has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus' dancing
  • Go read some books that you didn't write instead of proofreading your work over and over. It doesn't matter if you stick to your genre or not. Reading is different after your book comes out.
  • If it’s feasible, look for other avenues to exploit your intellectual property. It doesn't matter what medium and it doesn't matter how many sales you have. Not every book that crosses over has to be a best seller.
  • Get inspiration for your next book (See How Much Inspiration Do You Need?)
  • Look back at the process of releasing your last book. Figure out what went well and what could have been done better. Absorb what is useful, discard the rest as Bruce Lee used to say.
  • Write another book. If you did it once, you can do it again. There is no point in being a one hit wonder from a business or creative perspective.

Things Not to Do After Your Book Comes Out
  • Go on social media and ask people to buy your book every day
  • Agonize over the sales reports every hour
  • Compare yourself to other writer's sales numbers
  • Resent your friends for not supporting you enough
  • Beat yourself up because you don't have a bestseller
  • Ignore what you've learned from writing your book
  • Reject the entire industry out of frustration
  • Give up on your craft

The process of writing is cyclical. The triumph of releasing each book comes with the insecurity of a new blank page (See The Writer's Road). But the important thing for me is too keep writing. That's the only way I'll get better and the only way I'll increase my chances of success (See Defining the Successful Writer). The last novel is part of your past. To be a writer in the present and in the future, you need to keep writing. So go for it, right after that celebratory drink.

Have fun.

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