The process of writing and completing your first manuscript as an aspiring writer usually comes with loads of worries and anxieties, which is entirely normal.
Even after completing their first draft, many aspiring writers stay up late at night as endless questions and doubts run through their minds. If this sounds familiar, then you have come to the right place.
Let us talk about the top three things that you will want to worry about and not worry about for your first book.
You Need to Focus on Writing a Compelling Story
You need to have a compelling story – this is specifically true if you want to become a traditionally published author. Literary agents and editors tend to be extremely picky with the books they choose to work on. The underlying reason is that they are taking a significant financial risk in pursuing your book.
Literary agents at traditional book publishing houses don’t know how many copies your book will sell before they put it into the market. They just don’t know how your potential readers are going to react, which implies that they have to start thinking about how your book will fit into the market before they even agree to work with you.
With that said, if you have a really well-written story but it really doesn’t bring anything new to the genre and seems to repeat tropes that have already been used. They would be less likely to want to work with you because that market is already too saturated with that type of story.
You will want to understand what literary agents are looking for – they are looking for a story that brings something new to the table. This aspect doesn’t necessarily mean that every part of your book has to be completely unique.
You might still employ a structure you have seen in other books, such as having a police officer investigating a murder case. But – between how the story is told or a major plot twist or the characters – something needs to be there to set your book aside from everything else already on the shelves.
Now, you know why a compelling story can become one of its key selling points. With that said it might be a good idea to start thinking about how your book can be and should be different from other similar books.
However, you wouldn’t want to overstress it. If you are struggling to develop an idea that would make your novel stand out in your chosen genre, it would be a good idea to work with a professional beta reader or editor.
A professional editor or a beta reader knows how to bring that critical third-party perspective to the story and help aspiring authors see things in the manuscript that they may be too close to see for themselves.
Don’t Worry About Formatting
While writing your manuscript, you naturally adopt certain formatting techniques, such as numbering each chapter or using line breaks when changing between sections. Sometimes. Aspiring writers get really hung up on the formatting elements.
It is worse when they are perfectionists and love to ensure that every detail is spot on – including things such as the Oxford comma, a century-old debate amongst writers and grammarians.
The Oxford comma isn’t exactly the same as your standard comma despite requiring you to press the same key on the keyboard. What makes a comma an Oxford comma is its position, and if you are a perfectionist, you might be spending loads of time on the positioning of the comma while writing the first draft of your book.
Nonetheless, a professional editor will help you solve grammar problems. As far as your formatting is concerned, whatever composition you choose – everything is valid. Some prefer to number their chapters – others will have no chapter headings at all.
In the end, it comes down to what works best for your narrative. Whatever you defaulted to during the writing process is likely going to be what you stick with. As the writer, you will probably be choosing a formatting style that flows most naturally for your book.
Now, this is also the area where if you end up opting for traditional publication, the production team will step in to help you format the pages in a way that they look clean and appealing when they are printed. So, while writing the first draft, you shouldn’t worry about whether you use three dashes for your line breaks.
Don’t Fret Over the Final Outcome
When we ask you not to worry about the final outcome of the book that you are writing, we are mainly referring to your potential reader’s reactions. This kind of worry usually comes after completing and publishing your novel.
This aspect speaks to your mindset at an essential juncture in the novel writing process. Up to the point of publication, there is a great possibility that your book has had just one reader – the beta reader – but the ultimate goal is to publish your book and bring it in front of your audience.
Now the very thought that you will be placing your book in other people’s hands can be incredibly nerve-wracking. After all, you have put endless hours, tears, and effort into this project, and you hope that all those efforts have translated into the compelling story that you originally dreamt up.
At this point, shifting your mindset from being worried about how the world will perceive your book and what readers might think to embrace their feedback is essential. Now, it is entirely natural for you to feel both – anxious about sharing your novel – and – open to receiving feedback.
But – harboring the fear that potential readers will dislike your book is what potentially keeps writers from sharing their manuscripts at all. And if you look at it rationally, you will see that not sharing your manuscript is the worst possible thing that you can do for yourself at this point of the book-writing process.