6 Things to Do After Writing a Book: A Thumb-Twiddling Primer

by | Jul 30, 2013 | Prose and Cons | 0 comments

Relaxing after the manuscript goes out

Your novel is off to the editors. What now?
photo by: heydrienne

Hooray! Your book is finished. The hours/weeks/months/years of work have resulted in a manuscript that was sent off to your editor just moments ago. What now?

Let’s face it: your editor needs some time. How much will vary of course, but unless your manuscript fit on the back on an envelope, you’ve heaped a load of work on their desk. You just poured your soul into that manuscript, but now that it’s gone you have to decide what will fill your time until your editor sends it back – an event which will generate enough work that you won’t be looking for ways to kill time anymore.

Continue Tinkering

Of all the activities you can pursue while awaiting your editing manuscript’s return, this might be the worst. Not only are you likely doubling up on work you (or your publisher) are already paying for, but by the time you get your edits back, your version will not match the one that was edited. That means that some of your editor’s feedback will become moot, while all of the changes you’ve made yourself have gone untouched by the professional who was working with you in parallel.

Trust me on this one, leave it alone.

The Odds and Ends

There’s more to a book than a manuscript. If you’re self publishing, this all falls to you. While you can’t do your final formatting until the manuscript is nailed in place, there are a lot of other tasks you can take care of, if you hadn’t been working on them already.

  • Cover artwork (outsource this if you aren’t an accomplished artist who could do freelance quality work yourself)
  • Write your dedication, back cover blurb, etc.
  • Round up any bonus materials you will be including with your book (maps, interior illustrations, etc.)


Lots of authors hate marketing, if not for reasons of shyness/introversion, then because it takes away from their writing time. This lull is a great opportunity to lay the groundwork for your release. Start implementing that marketing plan that’s been gathering dust on your to-do list.

What’s that? You don’t have a marketing plan? Time to make one. Don’t know how? Try this online resource, assembled by author Michael J Sullivan: Author’s Guide to Self Promotion

Write the Next Book

This is a good idea especially for those who are writing serially. The new book’s material will be closely related to what you’ve been working on. Having everything fresh in your mind will help with continuity. Don’t worry that you’ll have to change things if your editor suggests alterations. You’re going to have to fiddle with the new manuscript at some point anyway. Best to start getting words onto paper, and deal with “later” later.

If you are not writing a series, you’ll have to do more mental juggling. Try not to let your works criss-cross in your head.

Write Short Stories

You can do this for fun. You can do it to grow your brand. You can keep your readers occupied while they eagerly await your novel’s release. There are plenty of reasons to write short stories.

The subject can be anything you like. Tying it in to your WIP (work in progress) is nice for engaging with readers and growing your world, but there’s no rule that says you have to limit yourself.

Be Human

How many hours did you just put in on that novel? Where did you find the time? If you’re not fortunate enough to be able to write full time, you’ve been fitting this second occupation of yours in and around work, family, and hobbies for months or years. You’ve skipped nights out with friends, declined tickets to ballgames, found your mind wandering to character dialogue during dance recitals, and left your lawn to turn into a small jungle. Your kids wave as they go by your office, your spouse leaves meals by the door, you don’t even know what shows are on TV anymore.

Go live your life a bit. Kick back and relax with your family. Mow the lawn.

Got any other ideas what a writer should do while waiting for their manuscript back? Leave a comment


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