Are you hoping to go further with your writing this year?
As a three-time published author and creative writing teacher I get asked a lot: “What is the secret to getting your book published?” Many of the interrogators are disappointed, some even disbelieving, when I tell them there is no secret. Getting published is about three key elements and none of them are a secret but all three play an important role. Book publishing requires a combination of luck, timing, and talent.
I know too much about the publishing game (and it is a game as much as it is a business) to discount the importance of luck when it comes to getting your book published. I have watched a lot of authors come and go. I have watched a lot of would-be authors do everything right to exploit their talent and then fade away into oblivion. I have watched a select few authors make mistakes and still come out with successful careers. While luck isn’t everything and should certainly not be a key part of your publishing and writing strategy, you need to allow for an element of luck — whether it is bad or good.
What’s the first step to becoming a writer? You’d think it would be “write“, but it’s not. In speaking to other writers and from what I know of my own journey to becoming a writer, I’ve come to realize that the biggest obstacle for new writers is that they don’t think of themselves as writers. They have trouble developing the belief that they are writers and yet it’s something you have to do. When you haven’t developed that belief, that conviction, it becomes a source of sabotage–you don’t value your work enough to give it the time and the space it needs. How do you come to think of yourself as a writer, especially when you’re not earning a paycheck as a writer? Here are a few tips:
During a recent telephone conversation, I mentioned having sent off the last revisions for my twentieth novel, ìGreat Sky Woman.î There was a silence on the other side of the phone, followed by the question How in the world do you do that? Twenty novels!
The truth is that I know many writers who have written far more than twenty novels. It is not that unusual. In fact, if you are a working writer, the perfect output is very close to a book a year. Less often than this, and the readers stop anticipating your next book, and wander to another writer’s literary pasture.
There is a commonality to the behavior patterns of successful writers, and a commonality to the behavior patterns of writers who just canít get started, canít get finished, or stall out at their first or third book.