First, let me say:
There is no simple ‘recipe’ for success.
Many people ask me, what does it take to publish a book? While I certainly don’t know all the answers, I’ve been at this for many years. And what I’ve learned can be summed up in 5 major points:
- You Need a Fantastic Idea!
If you want attention from not only your readers but also the literary community, the first thing you need is a tremendous idea. But BEFORE you actually write the book, you need to research other books out there that may be similar. I’ve had several ideas I was convinced were potential best-sellers, but then, oh no, I found an almost identical book already on the market. Ideas are funny that way. Sometimes they float in the air and are public property.
Ok, so you’ve got this amazingly awesome idea. And, nobody has written anything similar. You’re off to a promising start! But a great idea is just that: a great idea. To make it come alive in a book in just the right way takes talent and a lot of practice. Your idea needs engaging characters. It needs a setting, and an ending but most of all, it needs conflict, plot and the right pacing. Once you hammer out the first draft, get back to the drawing board as many times as it takes to edit it thoroughly. Get critique partners. Be ruthless.
- Do Your Research!
It’s hard enough to achieve numbers 1 and 2 successfully. But if you do, the nest step is to do the proper research. Don’t just send it off to a batch of 50 random publishers. Many might not even accept that specific genre, or may not match with your writing style. It’s critical that you research the publishers that interest you to find the right matches. So when you do send your queries, it’s to editors who might actually have an interest in your work. Be smart about this step. And yes, this takes A LOT of time. There are no short-cuts. Don’t forget to keep immaculate records for future use.
- Be VERY Perseverant!
Ok, I admit this is the hardest step! Be prepared to be extremely resilient and perseverant. Why? Because you will no doubt be buried in MANY rejections letters. I myself have hundreds. I keep each one because they actually light my fire. Do not take it personally. Do not soothe your tears in cookie dough ice cream when each rejection letter comes. My biggest advice is: KEEP GOING. Re-edit the work if need be. But if you believe in it, don’t give up.
- Be Patient!
And finally, if you have learned the challenging skill of perseverance, you’ll need to add patience to your skill set as well. Why? Because editors and publishers may take weeks, months or years to get back to you (I got a rejection letters two years later once). And mostly, they NEVER get back to you, since they’re inundated. If by some miracle, the editor is interested, you will go back and forth for a while. And if you’re lucky enough that your book get picked up, be prepared to wait a few more years until your book hits the bookshelves.
So why do writers write? Are we so masochistic that we enjoy putting ourselves through this emotional turmoil and endless waiting? Nope.
It’s because we love to write.
The stories need to come out of us, and we will guard those stories with our hearts and souls, and protect them along the sometimes brutal industry that is publishing. And when our books do hit the bookshelves, the joy that comes is immeasurable.
In the end, IT IS WORTH IT!
Happy writing to all!