Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.
After you've finished your edits and applied your critiques, you have a decision to make. Do I want to pursue publishing this manuscript or should I instead write something else?
Option 1: Pursue Publication
This is just my opinion, but if you want to try to get your book published, I can't find much of an argument against it. (And maybe that's because I started trying when I was in high school.) It's not much of a financial investment, and the worst that'll happen is you'll receive some form rejection letters.
Here's a super brief outline of how the process works:
- You decide you want to try to traditionally publish your book. (As opposed to self-publishing it.)
- You look for a literary agent. The majority of publishers will not look at manuscripts unless they come from a literary agent. Smaller presses often will, so if you're interested in a smaller press, then you could submit to both literary agents and smaller presses if you like.
- You figure out which agents (and possibly small presses) you're interested in and then you find a way to talk to them. Typically this is through a query letter (an email or letter that you write that explains your project and who you are and asks if they're interested in seeing more) but you can also meet agents and editors at writers conferences.
- Even though a literary agent works for you (agents only make money when you make money) they still have to agree to take you on as a client. They can only have so many clients, after all, and they have mortgages and kids like everybody else, so they need to make sure they can make money. If they like the first impression you and your story make, they'll ask to see more.
- Once an agent agrees to represent you, you'll figure out together which publishing houses could be a good fit for you and where your manuscript might need some tweaking/strengthening.
If you're wanting to be a novelist, I encourage you to work on another book as you query agents and editors rather than just sitting around waiting.
Option 2: Write another book.
You might not be interested in getting your finished book published, and there's nothing wrong with setting it aside and working on something new. There are lots of reasons to not pursue publishing a book - it's something you wrote just for you, you don't think it'll be marketable, it's not the genre you ultimately want to write in. Since YOU are the one making the financial, emotional, and time investment, YOU get to decide if it's worth it to you.
Though others may argue (and you may argue with yourself) that you just invested a lot of time in a book you're doing "nothing" with, I don't think that's true at all. We learn a lot with each book we write.
So say you decide you don't want to publish this book. Now you get to start over with another. For some, this is the most exciting thing in the world. Some writers are almost addicted to brainstorming new story ideas. But others can feel a sense of anxiety in the process as you wonder, "Is THIS going to be the story?"
Even though you're starting over, starting down a new canyon, you get to bring all your knowledge and experience from your previous canyon hikes with you, and that makes a big difference.