If you look at my “About Graeme Hague” page you might agree- hopefully a little bit -that I should have some idea of how this crazy writing business works. To be honest, I’m no Stephen King or Dean Koontz, but I’ve got a few books out there and I reckon this gives me some small insight into what can, or can’t be achieved.
It certainly often makes me the recipient of that dreaded question that all published authors are asked by aspiring writers- how do you get your novel published?
Well, the answer is simple. All you have to do is write the best novel ever written. Just write the best book ever.
Ah… now you’re saying, “Thanks smart-arse. I thought you were going to say something useful. Very funny.”
But hang on a second- think about it. Specifically, think about what’s stopping you from writing the best book ever. Like, do you have to lose half your body weight? Learn how to fly a helicopter? Scuba dive? Do you need to go to university (I didn’t)? Do you have to live anywhere in particular? Maybe New York or London?
The answer to all these is no. Okay, if you live in a goat-skin tent in the mountains of southern Mongolia then chances are you’re going to be slightly disadvantaged compared to some others, but since you’re reading this blog then we can assume you’ve got something going for you.
The point is, the only real obstacle to getting your novel published is you- yourself. Your talent and how determined you are to use it, grow it, perfect it… Nothing is stopping you from sitting down in front of a keyboard and typing a great manuscript.
Admittedly, it can seem hard to break through the barriers that many publishers and agents put up in front of them, but those barriers are there for a reason. They stop the absolute deluge of crap, boring and tragic manuscripts that are produced by the millions of wanna-be writers who own a word processor and don’t work hard enough. There are ways to get around those closed doors- but I’m not going to tell you here. Not now.
Because you haven’t written the best novel ever yet. Despite what you think, no matter what MS you’ve got lurking on your hard drive or printed out and stored in your drawer, it’s got a long way to go.
It’s a fact of the book industry that a brilliant manuscript will always find a publisher or agent. If it’s a piece of genius, you’ll get more than one (like, some overseas, too). If it’s the best novel ever written then publishers will be fighting on your doorstep and Steven Spielberg will be jamming your voicemail. Don’t forget, they’re in the business of publishing books. They need new writers. The old ones, like me, won’t last forever (especially the way I like a cold beer). In fact, if you’re good enough, you’ll get me fired and kicked off their lists- thanks a bloody lot.
The only real problem you face towards getting published is just how close you can come to creating that perfect manuscript.
If you can write anything- then you can write anything. Get it? It’s up to you how hard you want to work on your writing, your story, your plotting… hey, I didn’t say writing was easy. I only offered a simple solution to getting published.
Here’s another truth- if you do get someone to look at your manuscript, you sure as hell don’t want to blow the opportunity by showing them something sub-standard. This business doesn’t offer a lot of second chances to new writers.
All right, let’s be really sensible for a moment. If you have written a great story, there are a few things you should consider before trying to get a publisher or agent to read it. I’ll go into those later (and they aren’t any huge, secret tricks). The idea I’m trying to put in your head right now is that the quality of your writing is the only thing standing between you and the dream of having a novel released by a reputable publisher- I should point out that self-publishing and EBooks are kind of a different subject.
Write something awesomely brilliant, a piece of genius, a thrilling and riveting story… and it will get published.
And if Steven Spielberg calls, mention my name will you?