|Photo credit: theurchiness on Flickr|
Unfortunately I'm going to have to rain on that parade a little bit—at least, for the time being.
It's no secret that many NaNoWriMo winners feel tempted to immediately publish (or try to publish) their freshly written novels—hell, with five free CreateSpace copies of their NaNo novels given to all winners, the temptation to hit "upload" or begin querying instantly is indisputably there. But it's a temptation that you absolutely must resist.
You see, there's this tricky little tidbit of information about writing that many writers, especially new writers, sometimes overlook: your first draft is never meant to be your final draft. Never. Never never never. Did you get that? Your first draft is NOT equal to your final draft.
Usually this is the time when I say there are very rare exceptions, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there are no exceptions for this rule—even the most beautifully written first drafts (i.e.: first drafts written in a span of much more than thirty days) need some form of editing. Sorry, guys.
I've said it before and I'll probably say it again in the future, but I'm glad that self-publishing wasn't a thing when I wrote my first novel. More than glad—relieved—because as the impressionable, young, dreamy-eyed new writer that I was, I'm not sure how well I would have resisted the temptation had it been a legitimate form of publishing at the time like it is now. Because as a new writer, I hadn't yet learned just how terrible first drafts tend to be, and I hadn't yet accepted that when writers talk about massive revisions, they often mean necessary massive revisions, and no, you are not an exception to the rule.
That being said, I'm not saying that your NaNoWriMo novel is terrible, or that it's never going to get published, or anything like that. Many NaNoWriMo novels have in fact been published and there's certainly nothing stopping you from joining the ranks. But these novels all have something in common—their respective authors spent a considerable amount of time and effort editing them. They didn't send out query letters to agents on December 1st, or upload them to Amazon moments after writing "The End."
If you're a NaNoWriMo winner or a writer who just recently completed a novel—congratulations! You just achieved something great and you should be proud of yourself. I hope you've celebrated appropriately and given yourself a nice, good pat on the back.
I also hope you've put your novel away and distracted yourself with something else.
Post novel-completion time is not the time to publish your work, nor is the time to immediately start editing. Now is the time to rest, develop some distance from your work so that you can actually effectively edit and be proud of your accomplishment. Now is the time to read some really great novels, and watch movies, and brainstorm your next work or write something new. But any thoughts you have of publishing your new novel? Yeah, put those away for many more months. You have plenty of work to do first, after you've developed the proper distance from your writing.
Then, when you're ready, you can dive into some edits and second and third and fourth drafts. Take your time and make your work as good as you possibly can—the publishing world will still be there when you're finally ready to give it a try.
Have you ever been tempted to publish or query too early? Did you give in to your temptation? Share your experience in the comments below!