So You Finished Your First Draft…Now What? With Guest Author Katrina N. Lewis

This month’s guest author shines a spotlight on the somewhat grey and ambiguous period between writing the first draft and publishing a novel. There are obviously tons of ways to navigate this mysterious, amorphic time as an author.  Just as there are several avenues open to an author to publish, but this month’s guest author is fresh from releasing her debut novel, Heavy is the Head: Love & War, and so I’d say she is pretty knowledgeable about what it takes to turn your first draft into published prose.

Please enjoy some insights from indie author, Katrina N. Lewis, about this exciting and terrifying abyss between your first and final drafts.

So You Finished Your First Draft…Now What? 

By: Katrina N. Lewis 

You’ve finished your first draft. First things first, congratulations! You did it! You put the blood, sweat and tears to the test and have finished your very first draft of your novel. By this point, you’ve probably had over a hundred versions of your manuscript but you finally have one that you like and it’s done! For that, you should be very proud.

The hard part is over. Now, you’re moving into the league of revising, editing, marketing…and more editing. 

Take a break

I can only speak from the experience of someone who has self-published, however, I’m sure the process of a traditionally published author is similar. After finishing your first draft, take a break! Your eyes and mind need it.

Your manuscript will need other eyes and minds on it. So, spend this time recruiting beta readers and searching for a developmental editor. Beta readers are readers who will read your unfinished manuscript for free and provide feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. A developmental editor will do the same, however, they will look much deeper into character development, story development, the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript, and make suggestions on how it can be fixed. You will need both! Looking for a developmental editor? I used Fiverr to search for affordable editors! It will cost you, so I hope you’ve budgeted for this!

And really, take a break. 

Self-care is the best care!

Prepare yourself to dive into edits

Okay, so you’ve got your feedback from the beta readers and the developmental editor. Now, it’s time for you to dive back into the manuscript. After you’ve reviewed your feedback, begin to make the necessary changes. You may wrack your brain about why your descriptive, flowery and excessive way of describing things didn’t stick with some readers…or your editor, but don’t fret. Your work will need work, but everything about your manuscript shouldn’t change.

You can’t please everyone. I repeat: You can’t please everyone! However, if all of your beta readers and your editor hated your flowery and excessing way of describing things, you might want to consider tweaking your descriptions. Some things worked and others didn’t—and that’s okay. 

After finishing all of your edits from this round, your manuscript might look different, perhaps even better. So, guess what? It’s time for another break! During this time, you should be doing two things: asking your beta readers whether they are willing to take another look at a much cleaner version of your manuscript and start marketing (you should have been marketing before you reached this point, but that’s okay)!

Post snippets of your work, tell others about your writing process, talk about your characters or the world you have created, start a blog or newsletter, share music or artwork that inspired your story—the world is your oyster. You must get as much word out about your work in progress (or WIP if you already know the social media lingo) as possible to help gauge an audience for your upcoming novel. Marketing is one of the biggest components of being an indie author, so you don’t want to skip out on it during the process. 


Let’s say you got a few beta readers to give you additional feedback on your manuscript. You’ve got the hang of marketing your work in progress and you’re that much closer to having a clean and nearly ready to publish manuscript. Now, it’s time to edit and revise some more! Only this time, while revising, you’ll be on the hunt for a copy line editor.

A copy line editor will go over your sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, flow, syntax, everything that will make your manuscript grammatically clean, for lack of better words. I hope you budgeted for this as well because it can cost! Head over to Fiverr to see if you can find a copy line editor with affordable services. 

You’re golden now!

After receiving your copy line edits back and making the necessary final touches to your manuscript, it’s done! For real this time! Of course, it will need to be formatted for the paperback and eBook version, you will need a cover designer, maybe some character art to help your marketing, but that’s for another article for another time. Your manuscript is clean and you potentially have a best seller in your hands.

Congratulations author!

You deserve another pat on the back…and another break.

More About Katrina

Katrina N. Lewis is an indie author who enjoys writing all things fiction – fantasy, romance, sci-fi, drama, you name it! She loves a good story. In fact, her favorite subject is history! Katrina is a Philly native and proud graduate of Temple University. She’s passionate about creating stories about extraordinary adventures with diverse characters and worlds. She loves love, culture, food and a good laugh! So, definitely look out for those themes in her stories and get ready for an adventure.

With a love for worldbuilding and creating interesting characters, Katrina had a passion for writing since she could pick up a pen or use a keyboard. Katrina’s most recent work includes A Crimson City, a fantasy, romantic, short story drama that takes place in the fictional kingdom of Dragoon, and its full-length sequel, Heavy is the Head: Love & War.

Check out Heavy is the Head: Love & War today!

If you found this post useful, let me know in the comments below. Message me with any content you would like to see in the future!

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