"The odds of publishing a novel are a hell of a lot higher if you've written a novel."
-- Julia Cameron
Oh Julia, you're so right!
As someone who has had two books published and has contributed to others, I get asked a lot about how to get a book published. If you have dreams of being the next big literary thing, read this first.
Top 7 ways to get a book published:
- Write it. Writing is a verb. Being a writer is being a person who writes. Write. A lot. Usually this piece of advice is enough to keep people busy for awhile and not even need the next 6 tips.
- Be willing to live with what you write. We all have to live with our hits. After The Breakup Repair Kit was published, I heard thousands of breakup stories. It didn't occur to me that I would. I just figured I'd write this book, collect my money and go on to live my life. Carrie Fisher once said of Star Wars, "It... never... ends." If you publish a book it... never.... ends.
- Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. Often, people get an idea then want to figure out how to protect it before they even get it on the page. If you have an idea, write it down. Keep writing to figure out if it's a good idea. And the less you talk about it, the less chance someone will steal it.
- STFU about your ideas to everyone. First, no one gives a rats ass about your book idea. Second, talking about the idea burns out the energy of the idea. When people ask Marni and I about our books, we tell them we are writing a book about creativity. We aren't. But it's a vague enough answer to keep people off our backs. Stop talking about it and start writing about it.
- Be willing to kill your babies. I have two books that sit in a drawer. They are more likely to find their way into the recycling bin than onto the New York Times Bestseller list. I'm cool with this because I lost my enthusiasm for them. I think that the writing of them was for my own healing at the time. They weren't necessarily for the world to read. But people hold onto their dusty manuscripts for years and hold onto the idea that they'll be published. But first, they need to edit them and haven't found the time... whatever. If you don't want to read your manuscript, neither does anyone else. I love reading my blog entries. I go back, I correct errors, I add photos, links and tags. I do it because I believe in #6 below...
- Follow your enthusiasm. Writing on a topic you don't care enough about but you think is a good idea that will sell is like having a one-way ticket to Hell. Don't write it. You'll just make yourself miserable. And if your book idea does get picked up, you'll feel like a dirty whore. Write it because you love it. Your happiness is more important. If you're not mostly happy writing, then go out for a beer instead. This tip is actually more of a tip on life. Always follow your enthusiasm. Try not wake up too many mornings in a row dissatisfied with what you're going to do that day. That just makes life suck and writing a book on a topic you don't like isn't going to make it better.
- Having a good book title is not the same as having a good book. I come up with a great book titles every other day. Seriously. I do. Here is one I wrote today:
P.S. To all my American friends, this commercial is so true it hurts.