4 Ideas on what to do with your completed manuscript in Kenya

Have you completed your Manuscript and are wondering what to do?

You have finally finished writing your manuscript, be it Fiction or Non-Fiction, and you have saved your work on your laptop or in the cloud.  You’re asking, ‘What do I do now?

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First, Congratulations on finishing your writing project, a finished manuscript is cause for celebration.  I mean it.  Celebrate that moment of completion, because it takes a lot of time to get to that last full stop.

Now, let’s get to work.

Idea 1: The Intensive Editing Process

I hate to say it but you need to consider this.  Be very honest with your finished work and answer this question.  Is your Manuscript a First Draft/Rough Draft?  Is it a shell of an idea you have about your book?  I’m asking, is it work you think still needs more effort?

– The Editing Process is intensive and it transforms your first draft into a worthy book.  There is no way around it because you’re not writing this manuscript for you, but for readers you hope will engage, love and understand your work.  Your thoughts or your story must be cohesive and understandable.  Getting to this moment of perfection takes a few rewrites.

The process might go like this.  When you finish writing a manuscript, you print it out and give it a few days before you read it.  When you do pick that manuscript, read it holding a pen and make notes on a notepad.  Find scenes that feel incomplete.  Find sentences that read wrong.  Fix typos and spelling mistakes.  Discover insane plot holes that need reworking and rewriting.  This happens before you let anyone else read your work.  Once you have gotten your story to where you feel you have done the most editing you can yourself, let someone else read it.  Why?  You can’t see the flaws anymore.  You’re too close. 

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Beta readers always have notes for you.  Discuss them and more changes will likely happen in the manuscript.  Try to make this a fast process instead of making it endless.  Endlessness sends you into limbo world.  You keep working on the same manuscript over and over and it never ends.  If you have a good beta reader, you’re able to create deadlines that you both meet leading to a state of completion.

Any editor you reach out to gets the fourth or fifth edition of the manuscript.  Be aware that the editor will have a few changes for you too.  I’m saying this with all my love.  Editor Feedback is a blessing to you.  Rant and rave if you must, but get back in there and refocus your attention.

Look at the suggestions given from the perspective of your editor, the reader, and try to see what you can take from that feedback.  It’s a painful process.  You rewrite entire chapters or lose them, as in cut them out.  You gotta keep track of these changes.  It hurts when you lose changes that you really needed.  I’ve cried tears over this.  Anyway, your editor gets you to that nirvana that is the Last Draft, the draft to release out to the world.

Is this Intensive Editing Process important?

You’re thinking, ‘I’ve written and completed a manuscript.  Other than spelling typos and a few sentences that sound off, I think I have this, no need for rewrites and second-looks.  Let’s just sell this thing.

Great! Confidence is important in all undertakings.  If you don’t have confidence, well, why start in the first place, right?

Still, take a moment to really ask yourself, ‘What is the goal of you writing this manuscript?’

  1. Is it to gain readers?  Is it for crazy sales? 
  2. Is it for fun? Is it just a phase?
  3. Do you just want to tell people you write?
  4. Are you educating people in an industry?  Do you want to entertain?
  5. Is it for mad fame and culture-changing insight?
  6. Is it for an important cause?  Are you creating a fiction masterpiece?

If you answered 1, 4, 5, 6, then you need the intensive editing process to get your work into sparkling condition.  You have competition and you need to get ahead of the other millions of writers who want the very same things.  Editing gets you there.  It makes your work stand out.

You know your readers measure your manuscript’s worth in reviews and sales.  You want to give them the best, so you work at it until you’re satisfied with the last edition.

There is nothing wrong with answering 2 and/or 3.  Still, even at this stage, you should work to polish your work, and then create a platform that is your very own real estate.  Have a place to share your work and direct people to see and read your work.  Stages 2 and 3 launch you into the next step.  They help you grow an audience and give you the courage and confidence to go all in.

Selling your Completed Manuscript

Self-Publishing Tidbits:  Have stories you create for sharing everywhere: on your blog, on social media, on looseleafs for your close people to read.  Have stories you list for sale.  Spend money on these: on editors and book cover art.  Get a website and allocate a marketing budget.  You may also have stories you submit to Traditional Publishers in the hope of getting them published. (Don’t publish submissions elsewhere, please.)  All these stories should have one thing in common.  Make they are presentable in all their available forms.  They are your brand and represent your body of work.

Ideas 2 & 3: Literary Agents and Traditional Publishers

Question: My Manuscript is ready. I’m in Kenya, or East Africa, and I’m wondering, what do I do next?  Do I choose a traditional publisher, or should I start thinking of self-publishing? It all depends on your goals.

The ultimate goal for any writer is to publish their work on a grand scale with worldwide publishing.  This means getting your book published by the Big Five Publishers around the world.  You need a Literary Agent to get to this level.  Literary Agents are a great asset.  Their skill in negotiation will get you to your goals, as they work for your best interests.

Getting a Literary Agent requires hard work on your part in terms of editing your manuscript.  You then need to write queries and submit them to Literary Agents who represent writers in our East Africa region.  Please note, there is a delicate dance between finding Legitimate Literary Agents and meeting the Right Literary Agent to represent your work.  I will acknowledge there is a fair amount of networking and searching to get this connection in our region.

Published by Traditional Publishers in Kenya-

  • Publishers in Kenya receive manuscripts from thousands of writers in the region.  Your work is to get yours noticed.  This means, finding an editor who will help you get your manuscript up to level, if you can’t afford one, using all your effort to get to that level.  
  • Do your homework.   Publishing Houses in Kenya each have different types of genres they prefer.  Do your research.  Educate yourself on genres and discover how your work fits in their house.  Reach out to them and take their feedback seriously.
  • When your work is accepted, the publisher will get you to the next step.  Educate yourself on royalties, copyrights and contracts in Kenya.

The Traditional Publishing Route is as intensive as the Editing process.  If this is your chosen route, do not quit in the middle.  Send in your submissions, and if you get rejections, study why and grow from it.  Keep going until you get that yes.

Idea 4: Self-Publishing Route in Kenya

On this route, you take on the challenge of putting out your completed manuscript to the world.

  • The Editing Process – Work to get your editing done at the same level as books churned out by Traditional Publishers.  Make sure your content is cohesive and engaging.  Do not take shortcuts and push out loads of typos.
  • Book Cover Art, Blurbs & Formatting – You’re the publisher now, so once you finish your last edit, you get to jump in and design your book.  These decisions are yours to make and formulate.  Do your research.
  • ISBNs and Copyright – Don’t neglect your legal needs, to protect your hard work and to get your book in the library systems.
  • Digital Platforms & Hard Copy Books – You get to decide what type of medium you want to pursue to sell your book.  You can print a physical book, or publish it as digital content (e-book).  You may choose to use both.
  • Marketing and Getting Reviews – Once your book is ready and available, you start building a marketing network.  Find bookshops that will carry your physical book and websites to advertise your e-books.  Talk about it on social media.  Sensitize your audience on the book’s existence.  Get the word out there, and don’t stop.
  • Write your next book – The journey does not stop at one book.  Keep writing.

Self-publishing is essentially starting your own business.  You product is your book.  Your work is to create a brand, grow an audience or a following for your book, and keep writing.  It does give you the freedom to choose your platforms.  However, it also requires a great deal more effort from the author.

This blog post is courtesy of questions in my email on completed manuscripts and what to do next. What challenges do you face when you think of getting your books published? Thank you for reading my blog.

Published by elly in nairobi

Elly writes fiction. Her goal is to have a series of romance novels set in Nairobi. She works at it everyday, and will celebrate when she has reached five books set in the city in the sun.

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