By now in writing your first novel you've completed your first draft and your first edit. It's time for a working vacation! Put your manuscript aside, take a break, but now you need to make some really hard choices.



This difficult choice will also come up often during this step Credit




All along in these writing lessons you've heard my thoughts on traditional publishing. And now self-publishing is bigger than ever. Still, if you want your book in hard copies in stores, you have to go traditional publishing. So how do you decide which is right?

Before we get to that, there's  a schedule you should keep on this break. It is as follows:

1. Reinforce existing marketing
2. Embark on new pre-release marketing
3. Make a final decision on how to publish
4. Update research on publishers & agents

This is not the time to actually contact any agents or publishers. No, you have a loooooong way to go before that. But whatever publishing system you choose and if you choose an agent, it's a decision that requires a lot of intensive thought. But while you reflect on it, you need to keep busy.



Of course, this is something to remember on every break... Credit




So, in our first step we need to reinforce existing marketing. Do you have a following on a free writing site? Now's the time to post a new short story, or post in a flurry in the forums. In other words, by now you should have some following. Make sure they understand how much you appreciate them and give them some sot of little gift. Earn their loyalty.

But it's also the time to build up more of a fanbase, hence new marketing. You should build a website, if you haven't already. Free sites like yola.com or wix.com make it very easy if your HTML skills aren't great. Build a simple, easy-to-navigate site. Be sure to include a bio of yourself and keep it short. Anything less than 12 sentences total can be used later for your bio in books, and this is wholly necessary to have for your post-release marketing in the future. Include some free readings, and any other promotional materials you have. Make sure  you include contact info and a place to find your twitter, facebook, or google+ page. Don't have at least one of those? Build it now. Don't bother making a blog if you can't update at least 2-3 times a a month, and don't bother making a twitter if you can't post something daily.



To be successful on Twitter, you must be at least this much of an attention whore Credit




With new marketing you need to network. Now is the time to join a writer's group if you're so inclined, or join an online group or critique group. If you're like most writers and an unrepentant shut-in introvert, get your name out there. Find the Kindle Boards and sites like Goodreads and register and start posting. This is where you should have a facebook under your author name: you can link it to Goodreads and add friends there. Look for sites dedicated to discussions about your genre and register. Start posting. Start making friends and talking shop about agents and publishers, read about other author's experiences, find a critique partner and editing services. All these things you'll need in the future come into play now.

While you're doing all this, you need to ask yourself the question: am I self-publishing on the Internet, or am I going traditional? You really thought about this before back in Writing 102: 1-B but have your feelings changed? If you can't even remember what you decided, click the link in the preceding sentence and follow those directions to come to a conclusion. Did you follow instructions in Writing 102: 1-D and research agents & publishers? If you did, all you need to do now is check to make sure the research you did is accurate. If you didn't...go back to that link and do it now.

Marketing is going to keep you busy enough that this step is basically step 2 of pre-release marketing and making sure the earlier publishing path you chose still feels right. Things can change, and if you remember those lessons I'm sure you remember knowing how you plan to publish can influence your writing style, and indeed it should. So this is the point at which you should lock in your decision. Don't waffle after this: you'll only make it impossible to work.



Proof waffles can be evil Credit




You have 2 more edits to do on your own and then you will get an outside editor. So if you need to make any changes to plot or overriding style, now is your final chance. Remember, traditional publishing has much firmer rules you must follow and for female writers  it will always try to force you into romance novel writing. Self-publishing means more freedom, but little to no support. Choose wisely.

Focus on your website, forums, and marketing for now. Start asking around about editors, professional ones, and ask your friends if any are willing to critique edit for free. Get all this done before the next step and you're in good shape.



In other words, this step is where you, an introvert, must decide how far you're willing to go to venture into the world at large Credit