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5 Tips for Ending Your Novel as a Self-Publishing Author

Writing a novel is a labor of love. It isn’t easy. One must start at the right place, keep the reader’s attention through the middle, and end on the right note for a satisfying reader experience. Here are five tips on writing endings that will stick with readers.

The End written in the sand as a metaphor for the end of the novel written by the self-publishing author

1. Follow an Outline

Not every self-publishing author is a natural outliner, but endings can be tricky for those who don’t outline. An exciting story may not naturally lead to a reasonable and satisfying conclusion.

Self-publishing authors who have difficulty ending a story should consider creating a basic outline early in the writing process so they know what ending they aim for and how to write a story where that ending will be satisfying.

2. Endings Should be Satisfying

The novel’s ending should address most of the story’s questions and leave the reader feeling complete. If the book is part of a series, there should still be a sense of closure at the end of each book, even if the overarching storyline remains.

Endings don’t have to be happy. Terrible things can happen. Heroes can die. Worlds can explode. The bad guys can win. However, the reader must feel like the story is finished in a way that answers the primary questions posed in the novel.

Some authors choose an ambiguous ending for their novels. Even these must feel satisfying and complete for the reader. Often, the body of the work leads to an ambiguous ending, which feels incomplete because of its very ambiguousness.

3. Follow Genre Norms

Specific genres have requirements or expectations for the endings. Self-publishing authors should meet those expectations or risk unhappy readers. Romances should end with the couple facing a bright future together. Mysteries should end with puzzles solved and justice delivered.

Similarly, writers should consider the length of their novel compared to other books in their genre. A romance that is 400k words probably needed to end sooner or be split into a series. A 50k epic fantasy might have ended too swiftly for reader satisfaction.

4. Something Needs to Have Changed

Stories shouldn’t end before something has changed. That change might be internal and involve character growth or external and involve the world the character lives in. These changes can be as small as a murderer put behind bars or a spinster finding true love to large-scale changes such as the fall of a civilization or the overthrowing of a tyrant.

Unless the change at the end of the story is transparent to the reader, they won’t feel satisfied and may wonder what the story’s point was.

5. Don’t Answer Every Question

Some writers feel that their stories aren’t completed until all the reader’s questions are answered.

It is possible to have a satisfying novel ending where a few minor points remain unclear. This is usually done in horror by showing the seemingly defeated monster still alive and dormant but likely to arise again.

In a mystery, the detective rarely ends the story by retiring. The reader is left to assume the detective will continue solving cases. Maybe those cases will be in books. Maybe they won’t.

Similarly, the cliche ending of riding off into the sunset begs the question, what will the characters do next?

Writers who try to answer every question may end up drawing out their ending too far past the point of reader interest. Usually, a book should end no more than a few chapters after the story climax.

Endings are readers’ last impressions of a book, so self-publishing authors need to stick to the landing and end their books in a way that gives readers a positive experience.

Once a story ends, the work truly begins for self-publishing authors. One of those tasks is choosing the right publisher for the completed novel. InstantPublisher offers a variety of book self-publishing services. These services include interior book design, custom book covers, and digital printing services. Visit our website today to learn how InstantPublisher can make your author dreams a reality.

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