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You Finished Your Book. Now What?

dog with specsA writer approached me at a conference. “I just finished my manuscript,” he said. “But I don’t know what to do next.”

It’s not the first time I’ve been asked, so in the interest of efficiency, here’s a post on the subject.

First, click here for helpful links and downloads.

Second, you can publish in any of the following ways (this is a simplified summary of what’s available):

  1. Traditional: find an agent who will then sell your book to a traditional or indie publishing house. Then do what those guys tell you.
  2. Modified traditional: look for an indie publishing house that serves your niche (e.g. romance, fantasy, westerns, crime novels, etc.) and submit your query according to their guidelines. If they decide to work with you, you’ll sign a contract and they’ll help you get published. They’ll perform some expert services for you, usually for no upfront cost (e.g. formatting, cover design, etc.) In exchange, they’ll want a cut of every book sold. You’ll lose some decision-making power (like pricing, maybe). Read the fine print. Before you sign anything, check this out.
  3. Independent: You’re hiring all the contractors yourself. I recommend using CreateSpace for manuscript formatting, cover design, and Kindle conversion. You pay a fee up front, but retain total control over your book. If you sell through Amazon.com, they take a cut of each sale. Here’s an idea of the prices you might pay to publish with CreateSpace.
Ideally, before you finished the book, you started building a customer base through social media and/or a blog. If not, start now.
  1. As soon as your book is for sale on Amazon.com, take advantage of your author page there, and also on Goodreads. These are explained on this Follow-Ups page.
  2. Get active on Facebook and Twitter. In particular, I would look for one or two groups on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn (yes, they have topic groups) that deal with your specialty area. Join them and interact often. Occasionally link to your book. Make sure your profile page on any social media has a link to your author page on Amazon.
  3. Write the next book.
I hope this is enough to get you started! You should also check out this blog post by former editor of Writer’s Digest Magazine, Jane Friedman. (This post was shared by Lynne Spreen.)


  1. Jim Misko says:

    Good one Lynne. Carry on just like you knew what you were doing. May it go well with you.
    Misko with new computer glasses.


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