THE question of the moment: how to get published.
“It’s just not enough to be a good writer or a good storyteller.”
The traditional answer – find a literary agent (odds on – less than 1 in 1000)
The less conventional route is go solo via SELF-PUBLISHING.
Or sharing a mixture of risk with self-publishers. The traditionalists say smugly of course not to take that route, as it simply feeds money into second-rate publishers willing to publish anything without the strict editorial work that maintains standards.
I explored SUCCESS in last week’s blog, how you might measure yours. So, the first thing is to decide what sort of writer you are or want to be – something about AMBITION:
- Do you want to write a memoir or story that has been playing on your mind, hanging about in its recesses, that you would feel better getting off your chest, putting the account down on paper, in black and white, for a small audience of friends and your mother? Would that satisfy you? Never to write anything else, but happy with your one paperback on the shelf?
- Or do you have a few good stories related to your life’s experience, that would come alive with your specialist knowledge and insight; that warrant an audience; and that you have the creative ability to make them vital and authentic, that would bring them alive for readers interested in your particular genre? A few titles to flow for a while, maybe?
- Or are you bursting with creative ideas and story plots and find fiction writing comes naturally, with an imagination that will carry a wide readership from one to another, perhaps in one special genre, with a commitment to apply the discipline and focus required – even to make a career of it or even with ambitions to become a best seller?
Each of the above requires a different approach:
The first flash-in-the-pan approach is perfect for a quick Amazon publication, achieved in a few moments once the manuscript is ready. It will not receive a professional edit and might be fraught with mistakes but it’s your work and the story is told, the book can be printed at a cost and you can put it on the shelf. No agent necessary, mission accomplished.
The second could all be done by self-publication, and there are some notable authors with tremendous success with this, or a shared publisher in order to produce some quality editions with an ISBN categorisation and edited properly with a good cover design and some marketing. Will probably produce sales in the few hundreds, unless you’re clever with social media and lucky with a few good reviews to attract a wider audience. But keep the day job.
The third ambition, to become a career novelist, probably requires the professional skills and efficiency of a literary agent working with you to find the best publisher and the best deal and to help nurture you towards the next few deals over a prolonged period. For an agent you need luck and a well-crafted manuscript that echoes somewhere with what’s trending, that catches a niche – and the agent needs to be particularly good.
It’s just not enough to be a good writer or a good storyteller, writing beautiful prose; you need to have something that stands out, you need luck and then you probably have to sell yourself and pump those advertising channels and social media platforms.
I would love to hear other peoples’ views – feel free to post comments.