Quite frankly, writing a book is just not enough: you need to write a book that will be published. This can be online as a Kindle or an iBook, or by following the more traditional route and finding a publisher who will edit, get actual volumes printed and just about do everything for you.
“Proper” authors tend to look down on their colleagues who publish their own books on Amazon. Sometimes this is sheer snobbishness, but quite often it is because most ebooks are shoddily written, hardly edited at all and full of mistakes. Even so, this includes some of the bestselling Kindle authors out there. If you go down the ebook route, I think it’s important that you make sure your novel is properly edited and formatted.
Many people in the world are capable of stringing words together to make sentences and building up sentences into paragraphs and chapters, but writing a book and getting it published is a whole different ball game. I did think about calling this How Not To Write A Novel (Or Any Other Creative Work), but I decided that there’s enough negativity out there.
The Number One Reason Most People Will Never Get A Book Published
…has nothing to do with writers’ block. Every writer has at one point or another, sat staring at an empty page or screen, trying to figure out where to start. If there are doubts in your mind as to your abilities as a writer, get rid of them immediately. I always keep a copy of Dan Brown’s epic bestseller The Da Vinci Code by my writing desk, with certain sections marked in vivid green highlighter. Just to show me that a writer who writes lines as bad as this can still sell millions of copies. Dan might have come top of the class in his fiction writing course and may well be an expert in How To Write A Novel Synopsis, but his prose style is pretty creaky. Here is a favourite example of mine:
He could taste the familiar tang of museum air – an arid, deionized essence that carried a faint hint of carbon – the product of industrial, coal-filter dehumidifiers that ran around the clock to counteract the corrosive carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors.
For many more in a similar vein, check out this article on the Daily Telegraph website. When you come to write your own novel, please do not follow Dan Brown’s model. Adjectives can be your best friend, but not used in the way they are in the Da Vinci Code and other works by the “grate” man (well, he grates on me!).
How To Write A Book You Can Be Proud Of
Whether you need to know how to write a romance novel, how to write a fantasy novel or just how to write a good novel, the “secrets” (if that’s what they are), are exactly the same. The same goes for works of non-fiction and books in any genre.
The first big truth you must know is that the publishing business is just that: a business. Books are published in the hope that they will make more money than they cost to produce. It doesn’t matter if your book is fiction or non-fiction, it works in exactly the same way. You have to write a book that has the option of making money for the publisher. And make sure you tell them about it. Nothing has more power to lift a book out of the slush pile than a brief covering letter that says what they need to hear. Keep your letter brief and to the point but start by saying that you are aware of the commercial implications of publishing. You then have to explain exactly why you think the book you have written will make them money. Provided someone reads it and provided what you say is true, you’re more than halfway to getting published.
Some writers are under the illusion that only fiction aimed at the best-seller lists makes money for the publishers. Wrong. Academic text-books are among the biggest money-spinners in the publishing world. Part of getting a book published is knowing your market. Do web searches, look on Amazon and other book sites, see what people are buying. A big part of knowing how to start writing a novel or any creative work, is making sure you research your market before you start. This is a whole list of what people evidently do not want, but that’s taking us back to How Not To Write A Novel territory.
Avoid saturated markets but, at the same time, try not to be too much of a pioneer. There might be a reason why there are no books available on building models out of pasta. They do exist, but usually an “untapped market” turns out to be because there’s on market at all. Remember, it’s not just enough to know how to write a book, you have to be writing the right book.