Seeing a new book out there for sale is always an exciting time and every time one of my books comes out I get questions about what it takes to write a book and get it published. Often I hear those comments many writers get -- “I always wanted to write a book, but..” and then the excuses come. They could never find the time to work on their writing, they could never figure out how to develop characters, they could never figure out how to go about trying to get published, or some other excuse.I have a simple answer -- if writing a book is what you want to do, go for it
Dreams don’t come true if you don’t take steps to make them happen.This simple statement should be pasted on every writer's wall. Writing dreams will not come true without taking action to turn them into reality. What does it take to stay on track and find a way to make those dreams come true? It takes work, planning and finally, action. Your writing will never get published sitting in a drawer. You can turn out some marvelous stories, but if your mother and sister are the only ones reading them, you are never going to be published. You need to figure out what you want to do with your writing and then do what any business person does. Make a plan and stick to it. Here are a few thoughts on how to make your writing dreams come true:
1. Plan: Make a writing plan and stick to it. At one of the recent conferences I attended, I asked a multi-published author where she got her ideas. Her response surprised me.“It’s not finding ideas that slows me down. It’s finding the time to write.” She followed up with the advice to make time to write every day, no matter how busy things get. Another multi-published author said she gave up television for two years and forced herself to write a few words every day. My goal is to make writing a daily habit. Not long ago I read a blog that quoted a famous basketball player who said he had to “touch the ball every day.” I wrote that down and printed it out in big type and now it is taped to my computer monitor.
2. Plot: Know where you want to go in your career, and plot a course in that direction. Decide what you want to write, and then research publishers and agents. It makes no sense to waste time submitting to houses that don’t handle your brand of writing. Getting a response takes long enough as it is. Not long ago I heard several agents say they look for writers who aren’t experimenting with different genres. They want to build a writer’s career, and they want to work with a writer who has already figured out her/his strong points.3. Promote: Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your work. Writing is a lonely endeavor, and most writers are notoriously bad at promoting themselves. But how else will you get your name out there to fans, to booksellers, to editors and agents? Find groups or people with similar interests that you can talk to. For years I coached young writers and taught on a one-to-one basis. Now I find that there are insights I have that I can use to teach to others, and I have been teaching classes.
4. Pitch: Don’t underestimate the power of a good pitch. Be ready to query and submit. I’ve known writers, who have finished several works, and they are good writers, but they are afraid to put their book out in front of everyone. At the same time, I met a young woman recently who had finished one book, and she was ready to tell the world about it. Something tells me she will probably be more successful than the writer who keeps her work hidden away.5. Persevere. Hang in there and don’t give up. This last point really hits home for me. Yes, I have been writing for 20+ years. I’ve told this story over and over, but the one thing that always gets me is that 20 years ago I gave up. I stopped trying to get published and went in a different direction. I never stopped writing, though, and I always kept that little dream in the back of my head. Twelve years ago I decided to try again and it took a few years, but now I do have books and short stories out there.
These days with the growth of self-publishing and e-publishing there are more opportunities than ever. So I say again, if writing a book and getting it published is your dream, go for it.