Becoming an author is a bit like becoming an acrobat. Few people know how to go about either; fewer bother to attempt, and fewer still succeed.
There is no single "correct" path to getting a book published. Every author, every book and every career is different. I've worked with and without agents; I've published with a small academic press and with a big trade one; I've worked with good editors and bad ones; I've followed some standard industry guidelines, and I've broken plenty of others.
If I've learned anything for sure, it's that nothing is for sure. There are no hard and fast rules here. Still, I receive questions almost daily from prospective first-time authors who want know the "secret" to getting published. While I know of no such secret, this is what I tell them:
- Write well. Given how many people talk about writing a book when they have the time or after they retire, it's easy to forget that writing is a real job. But it is. To do it well, you need time, practice and talent. Then again, plenty of people write horribly and still get published and go on to become bestselling authors, so no need to lose heart too soon.
Writing is not an easy or practical profession. I don't recommend it for most people. But for those of us who can't imagine doing anything else, who are a bit mad and a bit masochistic to begin with, writing can be exhilarating. Not every day and not all the time, but enough to withstand the whims and woes of the publishing world at least.
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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