Pro Advice On The Publishing Industry!

Have you ever finished a first draft of your prized manuscript and not known where to go from there? Did you have an overwhelming feeling of dread or fear about not knowing what to do? 

Don't worry. Us too.

As a new writer, it can definitely be difficult and scary to make your way in the world. While a lot of writers and agents may give advice on what to do after you're published, it's a lot more difficult to find specific information about where to go and what to do right after you finish your first draft. Because we've all gotta succeed together!

So have no fear. We're here for you. We've spoken to dozens upon dozens of agents, authors, and even some publishing companies to get their thoughts and advice on the subject. So without further ado, take a look around (and even check out the credentials of some of the people who gave some advice!). What you'll see may surprise you, but hopefully, more than anything, it will help inspire you and guide you in the right direction...because everyone wants to end up with their books on a shelf in a Barnes and Noble somewhere. So let's make that happen together!

So, I just finished my what do I do?

"If your goal is traditional publishing, a well-crafted query letter is essential. Sites like Absolute Write (the Query Letter Hell forum) and Query Shark can help you learn how to write one and then polish it to perfection. It's really tough to boil a manuscript down into a few words, but getting several sets of eyes on it will definitely help. When you're ready to query, Google is your friend. Research agents before reaching out to them, and always follow their guidelines to the letter. It's possible to get published without an agent, but a good one can make all the difference." - Rebecca Philips, author of These Things I've Done

 - Romina Russell, author of the Zodiac series (from the Latinx in Pub newsletter)

"It is a good idea to get an editor because it can improve the odds of getting a publishing deal. If it doesn't work out, an aspiring author will need one to self-publish a book anyway." - Free Eagle Studios, Publisher

"Love editing. Learn to enjoy the process. Become excited by the idea of taking your book apart and rewriting it from scratch. Take pleasure in killing your darlings. No book is published without edits. If your goal is seeing your work in print then editing must become your new best friend." - Kate Evangelista, author of No Love Allowed

"When just finishing a first draft, my first piece of advice would be to continue editing as much as you can. You don't always have to go out and get professional editing, but it's important that you make sure you go through as many revisions as possible to make sure that your manuscript is in the best place it can be. While there are agents out there that will spend time with editing, there are many that expect a manuscript to be heavily edited already that way they can focus in on smaller rounds of edits before sending it to editors.  You can always start your research for agents after your first round, but I highly advise not to send out a first draft to agents. It's only going to hurt your chances. If you want to start researching agents and build up a list for once you have finished, here is a list of websites I recommend checking out: New Agency Alerts (Writer's Digest)Publisher's Marketplace (Requires Subscription), and Manuscript Wish List. These are just a few of many great sites out there! These are just some of the resources that will help you find legitimate agents. You always have to be careful, and make sure that the agents you are sending to is legitimate. It's also important to note that a lot of newer agents will not be listed on Publisher's Marketplace yet. If you have any questions, please follow me on Twitter (@Justin_941) and watch for when I do #AskAgent sessions and ask me questions during those time slots. I usually don't have time to answer a lot of questions outside of that." - Justin Wells, Jr. Literary Agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency 

"The best advice I can give is to remember that you're not alone. Every time someone finishes a book, they become a beginner all over again. New agents, new beta readers, new CP's, new pitch contests, and a new way of going about finding the perfect place for their work of art. Everyone is a beginner and everyone is consistently stumbling and making mistakes within an industry that is continuously changing and based solely off good timing and luck. Find your people you can trust to stumble with you, learn with you, help you pick yourself off the ground, and never look back. The publishing industry is a lonely place, and friends who understand your journey make it a whole lot easier. Always trust your gut and if a CP, beta, or agent just don't feel right for you and your story, they probably aren't. Remember that your agent should be your professional friend too, as they guide you, support you, and want the best for you. There's nothing wrong with saying, "this isn't the right path for me," and continuing your artistic journey, finding the RIGHT people to support you along the way." Kelly Peterson, Corvisiero Literary Agency 

"Believe in yourself. You're the only one who can keep fighting for your story." - Taylor, blogger at Stay On The Page

"As someone who is Looking to publish, I'm going the traditional route and searching for an agent. I guess the advice would be write the stories you want to read and do your research when subbing to agents." - Camille, blogger at camillesmaby

"I’m Kat Brzozowski, and I’m an editor at Swoon Reads, a division of Feiwel & Friends at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. As an editor, I acquire YA manuscripts of all genres, from horror to romance to fantasy, and I’m always looking for my next favorite book to come across my desk. If you’ve recently finished your novel, my first suggestion for you is to get it out in the world and get feedback from other writers. Done that? Great. Now we would love for you to consider submitting your completed manuscript to Swoon Reads. On,  you can upload your finished YA novel, receive comments from other writers, readers, and book lovers, and have the chance to get a book deal. Here’s how it works:  We use our site to find the best and brightest new YA manuscripts to publish – the manuscripts that are getting a lot of love from our readers, the manuscripts that Twitter can’t stop talking about, and the manuscripts that we fall in love with because they’re full of voice or create an exciting new world or showcase irresistible characters. Three times a year, we select a list of new manuscripts to publish in hardcover. From there, our authors get a standard Macmillan publishing contract and a full team of dedicated book lovers from editors to marketers to publicists to jacket designers who make the book great. Our whole process is centered on readers, and we involve our community in every step of the publishing process, from choosing a cover to soliciting blurbs for the book jacket to providing editorial updates from our authors about what it’s really like to be published.  If you’re still in the writing stage and not ready to submit, we provide tons of writing advice, prompts, and lessons about craft on our blog at  And we’re always available to answer your burning questions about publishing and what really goes on behind the scenes; you can tweet at us @SwoonReads. We hope we’ll see your amazing YA manuscript on our site very soon. Happy writing!" - Kat Brzozowski of Swoon Reads Publishers

Some Other Helpful Resources!

*The Novel Gent put together an entire page of excellent resources about indie publishers that accept unsolicited work, query agents and editors, and all sorts of other incredible information that anybody can utilize! They provided so much information that we had to create a whole separate post to contain it -- so you can click HERE to see it!

*Gloria Chao, author of American Panda, has an entire page on her website dedicated to writing/querying/drafting resources -- click HERE to view it!


Justin Wells was awesome enough to offer a giveaway for you all -- so three (3) lucky winners will receive a query critique from Justin! The giveaway ends on October 29th, so enter while you can!

Hopefully this information was of use to you guys! If you're an author/agent/publisher with some more advice you'd like to add, feel free to add it in the comment section down below. And if you think this information was helpful, please let us know! Let's tackle the writing world together, people: We've got this.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. As a new author, this advice is invaluable. Thank you for posting!

  3. Thanks for the advice! And for doing the giveaway!

  4. Thanks for the publishing advice. I'd also like to add that Agent Connect is a great website where authors critique each other's query letters. I've gotten good advice there.

  5. This is a brilliant article. I use QueryTracker as an extra agent research tool. Loving the layout and organisational tools.

  6. Thank you for such an insightful article. Love QueryShark for making my query letters better in order to prep for submissions.


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