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You've poured your heart and soul into your first novel... now what?

Our advice: leave it sit for a while. Take a few weeks to burn off your adrenaline, start your next book or maybe even read something new. The biggest mistake new authors make is rushing into self-publishing before they are ready. We get it; you're excited. Take the time to allow the smoke to clear, then go back to your novel and edit it one last time.

Next it's time to decide whether you're going to have it edited professionally or trust your own instincts and hope for the best. Think back to every book you've ever read and remember those moments you found an awkward passage or grammatical error. Now, rethink your previous decision on whether or not to have the book edited professionally.

Literary Agent or Self-Publishing

After you have your manuscript complete, you'll need to decide whether you approach literary agents with a query letter or take the bull by the horns and self-publish. This can be a very tough decision. There are pros and cons to both options. Attempting to secure a literary agent takes a lot of time, a polished query letter and thick skin. Self-publishing allows you to bypass possible rejection and put your novel on the market for immediate sale, retaining all the rights and possible profits.

Before jumping into self-publishing, realize that once you go this route, there is no going back. Literary agents rarely consider books that have already been released to market. If you self-publish first and are unsuccessful in marketing the book for sale, you will not have the option to seek a literary agent after the fact. In contrast, if you search for a literary agent and are unsuccessful, you can self-publish without issue.

Writing a query letter is a painstaking task that needs to follow the industry standard to be considered by most agents. A strong query letter is concise, intelligent and to the point. It is a one-page cover letter introducing you and your book, consisting of three paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer's biography. Visit agentquery.com to learn more about how to write a query letter and to view the internet's largest database of literary agents.

Self-Publishing

If you decide to self-publish, the next step is choosing a service. There are several self-publishing options available from Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle network to Smashwords to Barnes and Noble's Nook Press. Blurb, Lulu, Author House, Xlibris and Outskirts are also noteworthy self-publishing platforms.

Self-publishing is quick and easy. The biggest drawback to ease of entry is a flooded market. If you are going to self-publish, take the time to do your research and release a quality product. Many self-published novels fall short in cover layout and design. Others are poorly edited or lack justified formatting and appropriate fonts. These are all small details that can stall an independent author's accomplishment.

Check out this article for a great overview of the self-publishing process.

Marketing

After your book is available for sale, you'll need to let the world know. There are many options available for indie authors including an author website, facebook, twitter and utilizing the various networks dedicated to the publishing industry such as GoodReads, Amazon's Author Central and Authorsden. Most of these services require more elbow grease than hard earned cash. More exposure is better. Quality exposure is always best. Blog tours, advertising and giveaway campaigns can help as well. The author who actively self-promotes has the best shot at continued success.

Book reviews are an important part of establishing credibility for your work. Giving copies of your novel away through social media (GoodReads offers a giveaway promotional program for example) can generate unbiased reviews. Reviews from friends and family are great place to start but they lack the integrity most readers are searching for. Paid review services such as Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and Blueink will provide an objective professional review that you can use for marketing and promotion. Do not overlook the importance of this aspect.

Book Awards can be the most rewarding aspect to self-publishing. They are a great way to build credibility and gain exposure for your novel as well. With all the hard work and dedication that goes into finishing a novel, book awards can give the independent author validation and publicity. There are several book awards specifically catering to independent authors and self-published books.

Continue to Write

The last step necessary to success is going back to the blank page. Continue to write. Take what you've learned with your first novel and apply it to your second and your third. With time, hard work and a positive attitude, anything is possible.

Paper in the Wind

Paper in the Wind
by Olivia Mason-Charles
available at Amazon!

A critically acclaimed best-seller exploring autism and a father's unconditional love.

Surviving Cancer - Our Voices & Choices by Marion Behr

Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices
A Collaboration Compiled and Illustrated by Marion Behr
available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

"Anyone who hears the dreaded, 'You have cancer', needs to read this. Professionals, survivors, caregivers, doctors... sharing their stories and offering information and hope."
- Pat Buzby (Goodreads)

Best New Fiction

I Can See You
by Joss Landry
in stores now!

Winner of New Apple's 2015 BEST NEW FICTION
Ten-year old Emma agrees to help Hank find a murderer. Only, the madman knows who she is.

Now, there's new evidence and an unlikely suspect: the woman he loves...
"…a haunting detective novel that handles the issue of child abduction with grace."
Read I Can See You.

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Author Resources
Kirkus Reviews
• GoodReads
• Authorsden
• Xpresso Book Tours
• Smashwords
• NOOK Press
Audiobook Creation Exchange

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