So you want to write a book…
Just kidding, but seriously.
When I first got the idea to write a book in my head, I had no clue where to even begin. I’d been reading books forever, but how to actually create one of those pieces of magic was beyond me. I majored in creative writing at Butler University, and the topic was never covered ONCE. Seemed like a bit of an oversight to me.
So, like any good 21st century girl. I turned to the Internet. I think I typed “How to Publish a Book” into google.
My ignorance on the subject was epic.
The details are getting fuzzy now, but I remember reading a lot on the topic through every online article and library book I could get my hands on, and eventually I had a rough idea for how to go about the thing.
Step One of the whole process seemed to be to ACTUALLY WRITE A BOOK. Now, that may seem obvious, but I’m actually here to tell you…that step one is to write MORE THAN ONE BOOK.
Write more than one book?
Are you insane?
Writing one is going to be a challenge!
I hear ya. And I agree. Writing ANYTHING as long and complicated as a book is a challenge. (Now the first 20,000 words? Ridiculously easy. They fly. The last 50,000+? Brutal. )
And if you just write the one, feel free to pat yourself on the back, check it off your bucket list, and brag to your friends about your accomplishment. Don’t worry. I did that too.
Here’s the thing. Your first book will be utter crap. You won’t think it is. You will be convinced it’s brilliant. And that’s okay, books are a lot like children, and you always think your own is the best.
BUT. That doesn’t change the fact that your first book is still utter muckity muck. It’s supposed to be. How else do you learn how to write a book unless you, ya know, write one?
For example…my first novel was a middle grade novel and ended up being 150,000 words when it was all said and done. The average middle grade novel is 50,000. Whoops? Like I said…. First Book= Disaster on Wheels.
Now I’m sure there is the random freak of nature out there somewhere who got their first novel published for a huge advance and rave reviews. And to that person I say. Good for you. I hate you. But good for you.
So let’s just say that this post is for the rest of us.
So back to your utter crap book that you still believe is pure genius. Here’s what you do with it.
You edit it like it’s going somewhere. Show it to other people who know what they’re talking about and edit some more. Show it to your mom, because it’s always wonderful to hear someone else tell you how great you are. Then show it to someone who tells you that it’s awful- just to keep your ego balanced. And while you are doing all of this, learn to shape a story. Then go ahead and query that novel. Why not? It can’t hurt to try, and just like anything else, you’ll learn how to query by actually doing it.
(Side Note- I’ll write a post about queries when I write about STEP TWO of getting a book published. Until then, you can check out this website to learn everything you need to know about the vile pieces of writing called the query letter.)
But here is the secret.
While you are querying your first novel, which is being shot down left and right because, obviously, no one understand your brilliance, start your second book.
You heard me. Start it. Fall in love with it. Use everything you learned from writing your first novel to make this one really sing.
This accomplishes two things.
- It takes the sting out of all those rejections novel number one is getting.
- You end up writing another, better, book.
Now I’d love to tell you that book two is the magic number for getting published, but it’s not. I lucked out, and the second novel I ever wrote ended up being the one that snagged me an agent. BUT, it might be your third, fourth, fifth, fifteenth novel.
What you need to ask yourself is if you NEVER got published, if there was NO light at the end of the tunnel, would you still write? If the answer is yes, then you have nothing to lose, and remember….