I’ve got a draft! Now What?

This post is part of First Time Author, a series of blog posts in which I share my journey going from having an idea for a book to (traditionally) published book. Learn more here.

Alright, so here I am with a finished first draft. So what’s next? 

Weirdly enough, this was probably the first time in this whole 'I'm writing a book' process that I started to think about what I actually want to do with it. Up until now, I had been so focused on writing, and had been enjoying the whole experience so much, that I hadn't really looked far beyond that. Yes, I had thought about how amazing it would be to get it published, but that kind of felt more like daydreaming than actually planning for it.

But once I had this first draft of a full book, I suddenly asked myself "What now? What do I even want to do with this?" It was at this point that I decided to get serious about it and to try and get it published. I've loved writing this book, and I really do think that it offers a fresh perspective and that it can make a difference in people's life. I also felt proud of what I had produced, and I wanted to share it with the world. 

So even though I have to admit the idea of putting it out there was also pretty scary (what if people hate it????), I decided to go for it.

New goal:  Published Author Lisa Jansen.

 

I knew that if I wanted to get this book published, I had more work to do. I might have had a draft of over 90,000 words, but I knew many sections weren't as good yet as they could be. So I went back to work.

Here are the steps I worked through.

1.     Read everything again

As a first step, I went back to the beginning and read my whole book front to back. As I was still making a lot of changes at this stage, I was reading at my laptop so I could make the edits right away. I ended up re-writing two major sections and made lots of edits and tweaks in others. It was at the end of this first step of the editing process that I really felt like I had a first full first draft of a book that flows and gets a succinct message across.

2.     Read through a printed version

I'm a digital nomad and am very much used to working and reading on screens. But at this point, I decided to print the book (simple A4 printing and binding) to be able to re-read it with a different perspective. I wasn't making significant changes anymore but was mostly just looking for spelling mistakes and to highlight sections that need a bit more work. I found it easier to do that on paper rather than on screen. So I worked through the whole hardcopy. I often made changes in the electronic version at the end of the day or at least once or twice a week, so I wouldn’t have to do it all in the end. Once that was done, I was ready to share my book with the first friendly face. 

3.     The first beta reader

The first person to read the full book and to give me some feedback was a good friend of mine who is also an avid reader of non-fiction books. I was really nervous about putting the book out there but also really excited! I will write about my experience with beta readers in more detail in my next post.

4.     More changes, more beta readers

I was lucky to find another couple of beta readers who read the full book as well as some people who read parts of it. I also re-read the whole book myself again. I ended up printing two more versions as I found it easier to read and review hard copies. And there was also something pretty amazing about holding a hardcopy of your own book in your hands, even if it was just basic A4 pages with cheap ring binding. All of this led to more changes and refinements. 

After about two months of reviewing and refining, I felt that my book was ready to be shared with agents and publishers. So that’s what I focused on next and what I will write about soon. But first, I will share more details about my experience with beta readers in my next post.