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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Debbie Ridpath Ohi FAQ > Getting Into The Business > I just finished my first MG or YA novel. What should I do now?

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This is a list of questions I am frequently asked. Here's a list of links to my more popular pages. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie


Congrats! You're already way ahead of most newbie writers (who start but never finish writing their books).

There is no one piece of advice that will work for everyone. Find what works for you. But here's my general advice for those who have just finished writing a book and wondering what to do next:

Find a critique group. It took me a while to find mine. My goal was to find a group of writers around the same level of experience / writing, who had the same level of commitment and who all got along. I found the MiG Writers through the SCBWI message boards. In my early days, I used to be too insecure to let anyone else read my writing. Now, I can't imagine sending anything out without having someone whose opinion I trust read it over first.

Connect with other writers. Join the SCBWI. In Canada, join CANSCAIP. Go to conferences and local meetings. Participate in kidlit/YA communities online, like Verla Kay's Blue Boards and some of the forums in Absolute Write. There are also many kidlit/YA people on Twitter and Facebook (focus of my @inkyelbows Twitter feed is on kidlit/YA, so feel free to follow me!) as well as online chats.

Summarize your book in one or two sentences. Imagine that you find yourself in an elevator with your Dream Editor or Agent. She finds out you write, and asks what your book is about. What is your elevator pitch? If you find yourself stumbling or rambling, you need to think harder about your overall story. Writing the story isn't need to be able to convince someone that it should be published.

Read. A LOT. I'm amazed by how many want to write books for young people even though they never read these books themselves. Read for enjoyment, yes, but also read critically. What is it you like and don't like about a particular book? What would you have done differently? 

Browse bookstores and libraries. Find out what's out there already. How will your book stand out in the marketplace? Editors aren't just looking for good stories -- they want books that will SELL. If your book is too much like another book that has just come out, or a book that is wildly successful but is very similar, an editor may be less interested.


Also see related FAQ entries:

Where else can I find useful info about writing and illustrating for young people?

How do I get my story in front of an editor?

I just finished my first picture book manuscript. What should I do now?

I just finished my first MG or YA novel. What should I do now?

I'm an aspiring children's book illustrator. Any advice?

Last updated on August 27, 2013 by Debbie Ohi