What Happens After NaNoWriMo? by Hank Quense

Once your NaNoWriMo project is completed, it’s time to start thinking about what to do with the manuscript you just finished writing.

Of course, the first thing you have to do is revise it (right?).  And keep revising it until it’s a polished gem.  Once those revisions are completed, it becomes decision time: what happens now?  There are several possibilities here.

  • File it and forget it.
  • Try for an agent and/or a traditional publisher.
  • Sign up with a service company
  • Self-publish it.

Let’s explore each of these options.

File it and forget it:

What?  After all that hard work and sweat during an entire month?  You have to believe in yourself!  You have to believe your manuscript is great and that someone (even lots of someones) wants to read it.  I recommend you don’t stick it in your sock drawer and forget about it.  Try one of the other choices listed.  You can have a successful published book!

Try for an agent and/or a traditional publisher:

This is a popular option and many writers try this as their first choice.  This route can take a long time, possibly years.  Some of the big publishers now accept submissions without an agent and that simplifies matters if the publisher is a match for your manuscript.  Indie publishers offer a slightly different path.  Most of these smaller publishers don’t rely on agents so it’s easier to get in touch with them.  Generally, the smaller indie publishers are more open to new authors and have much shorter intervals

The big advantage with this option is the publisher does all the work and incurs all the expenses involved with producing the book.

Sign up with a service company:

These service companies seem to be a growth industry.  They’re popping up all over the landscape and they have some controversy surrounding them.  Their basic method of operation is you pay them to produce and publish the book.  That is the exact opposite of the previous option.  The cost to the author isn’t pin money either, it’s thousands of dollars.  Granted for that money, the service company does a lot of work.  It comes up with a cover, edits the manuscript, formats the book and attends to all the other details involved in the publishing process.

My concern about the service companies is this: vanity presses do the same thing.  So why are service companies different from vanity press publishers?  I haven’t heard a satisfactory answer to this question and until I do, I won’t be a service company fan.  I guess if you have the money to spend on this option, it’s something to consider although I’m more than a bit leery of the whole concept of services companies.

Before you decide to use a service company, make sure you read all the fine print on all the web pages and especially on any contracts.  If you have a question, don’t sign until the question is answered to your satisfaction.  Don’t accept any fancy double-talk.

Self-publish it:

This option is increasingly popular with authors, both newbies and established.

An inexperienced author who considers self-publishing her book will often take to the internet to research the process.  That’s when problems set in.  There is a lot of great information available on the web.  Unfortunately, there is also a lot of mis-information and other material that is simply wrong.  The issue for the newbie author is figuring out which information is accurate and which isn’t.

An example of wrong information is the advice to take your unrevised and unedited manuscript and upload it to Kindle.  This produces the kind of book that gives self-publishing a bad reputation.  It also indicates a complete lack of understanding on what self-publishing is all about.  In a nutshell, self-publishing means that the author is the publisher and as such must do all the work a publisher would do if the author sold the book to the publisher.

Here is a short list of the work involved in self-publishing the book: getting a unique cover, having the manuscript professionally edited, designing the layout and formatting the book.  This last item is especially important in the case of ebooks because what you see on your computer screen is most likely not ebook compliant.  Ebooks must be formatted in accordance with the Epub3 Standard and word processor default settings assume you will print the material.  Hence, these settings aren’t complaint with the Epub3 Standard.

Another nasty situation that can arise is with the scam artists that cruise the internet searching for new and/or inexperienced authors.  The scammers will make attractive offers that do nothing except drain your wallet.

One solution to this information conundrum is to get a mentor: an experienced self-published author who can offer advice on a number of issues that will pop up during the publishing process along with the decisions that have to be made. Another solution is to ignore most of the internet information and read a good book on the subject.


For NaNoWriMo writers looking for information on self-publishing, check out the Writers & Authors Resource Center https://www.writersarc.com/self-publishing


For vacations, Hank and Pat usually visit distant parts of the galaxy. Occasionally, they also time-travel.

Besides writing novels, Hank lectures on fiction writing, publishing and book marketing. He is most proud of his talk showing grammar school kids how to create a short story. He used these lectures to create an advanced ebook with embedded videos to coach the students on how to create characters, plots and settings. The target audience is 4th to 7th graders. The book’s title is Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids.

Blogs & Books

Hank’s Amazon PageCreating a Story

How to Self-publish and Market a Book


Comments 10

  1. Great article, Hank!
    I self publish at the moment and doing all the work of the publisher sounds hard and is hard.

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      I actually published my first novel back in 2008. That’s how I found a publisher. But it was definitely expensive. The hardest part was trying to find a distributor and get the books to bookstores. What a hassle.

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    1. I’d have to spend months in preparation before I could enter a NaNo event. Even then, I doubt if I could finish on time.

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