- Having an idea no one's ever used before. (There's no such thing. Shakespeare saw to that and Dickens took care of whatever Shakespeare might have missed.)
- Being famous or related to someone famous. (It might get you noticed but there's got to be some talent to back it up. Still, they might put your face & name on a ghost written book, if you're really famous.)
- Writing the perfect query. (Be natural, be normal not needy and let your story speak for itself. There is no perfect query format. Even if there were, and you write it, how many query letters do you see for sale at Borders?)
- Getting the busiest and best-looking agent on the internet. (That one who looks like Tom Cruise comes to mind.)
- Getting a degree in creative writing. (Helpful, since hours of creative writing are required to get said degree.)
- The result of a highly popular blog with tons of followers. (Notwithstanding the scene in Julie Julia where 6 dozen agents leave pleading messages on her voice mail.)
Although if you have achieved any of the above points, you are fortunate indeed, (especially if you have that agent who looks like Tom Cruise). And you are definitely farther along the path to publication than the guy next door who says he's writing a novel but spends all his time on the Wii.
Then what is the secret to getting published? Come closer and I'll tell you. Are you ready for this?
You have to want it more than you want anything else. You must want it with every fibre of your being.
The rest of the secret:
- You will need to give up stuff to write. Lots of stuff. Like maybe, free time and all the fun things you see other people doing. Be responsible and prioritize (especially if you have young children). But make time to write.
- Writing well isn't easy or fast. It's a long, slow slog into awfulness involving disappointment, discouragement, depression and all those other "d" words until you begin to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Be prepared for the long haul.
- Never quit until your prose sparkles and jumps off the page, until your characters come to life and your story strikes a universal chord. You may have to write six novels (like Talli Roland did) before you finally write the one that's got IT. Or spend ten years on one manuscript until it becomes a novel worth publishing. (Hello Uncut Diamonds.)
- Seek out and research every agent, every publisher, every avenue to publication that you can find. Don't be a publishing snob, thinking that only the best will do. A small press or an unknown and/or less attractive agent may offer you a contract and provide invaluable experience with editing, publishing and marketing.Your book could be on store shelves while your friend who snagged that
extremely good-lookingmuch busier agent is still waiting for an offer.
- If, after extensive research, you choose to self-publish or epublish, you won't rush into it with a poor quality piece of work. Nor cut corners on editing, design and typesetting, because you know that, in the end, it means nothing unless readers (who are not your relatives) willingly shell out cash for your book.
- One finished manuscript or one published book is only the beginning. This is a career not a hobby. Never rest on any hard-won success. Celebrate then get back to it. Your best work may not yet be written.
- You might get lucky and hit the big time fast, but then what? Keep going. And going. Stephen King wrote On Writing after an accident that nearly killed him. He was in so much pain he could barely write for thirty minutes at a time-- a man with countless bestsellers to his name and plenty of money-- yet he did not stop writing.
There it is people. The secret to getting published. Go after it!