The 3 Things You Must Have To Publish Your Novel
When I first started writing, the publishing world seemed vast and mysterious and uncrackable. How in the world was an ordinary guy supposed to break in to this world?
That was almost 25 years ago. In that time, I’ve published six novels and two nonfiction books, won about a dozen awards and honors, rubbed elbows with hundreds of writers, editors, and agents, and taught at many writing conferences across the country.
You know what? The publishing world still seems vast and mysterious. But I’ve learned that it’s not impossible to crack into it. I broke in. And I’ve watched a zillion novice writers develop their skills and get published.
The publishing world is completely fair and democratic. You don’t need to slip anybody a big wad of cash to break in. You don’t need to threaten anybody with a kneecapping. You don’t need to perform any lewd acts.
All you need are 3 things. Here they are:
That’s all! This course is about how to get each of those things and what to do with them once you’ve got them. Let’s talk a little bit about each of them in turn:
Content is “what you know.” It’s your life experience and the knowledge you’ve gained from books and your intelligence and the wisdom that comes from getting older and that inner magic that only you have. Everybody has Content, and everybody’s Content is different! You don’t have my Content . . . and I don’t have yours. That’s good news, isn’t it? It means that NOBODY can write the book you were meant to write. You don’t have to worry about somebody “stealing your idea,” because the book they would write with that idea is way different than the book you’re going to write with it. Ideas are free. Your Content isn’t. Your Content is what you’re going to sell to a publisher. Your Content is all you have that’s unique.
Craft is “how well you write.” Let’s face it, some people are boring and some people are fascinating. But here’s an important point: people aren’t BORN boring or fascinating. They grow that way. And they can change. If your writing is boring now, it doesn’t have to always be that way. The Craft of writing can be taught! That’s why there are so many books on writing, magazines on writing, courses on writing, conferences on writing, and teachers of writing. Because it can be taught. I know it can be taught, because I TEACH IT ALL THE TIME. All it takes to develop good Craft is a bit of talent, a lot of hard work, and some good coaching at the right time.
Connections are “who you know.” Now, let’s be careful here. People often imagine that, “if only my uncle were the president of Random House, I could get my novel published.” No. No way. No freakin’ way. Puh-lease! Knowing a big honcho in publishing is NOT ENOUGH! Having the RESPECT of an editor is what you need. And, by the by, the way you get an editor’s respect is by having great Content and great Craft. So getting Connections DEPENDS on first having Content and Craft.
Hundreds of writers every year sell their first novel to a publisher. That’s the good news. The bad news is that over a hundred thousand writers every year sit down to start typing their first novel. Sadly, most of those never get published. Why not? Are the ones who get published smarter, funnier, luckier, richer, or sexier than those who don’t?
No. The ones who get published are those who work hard and work smart. They’re the ones with the best Content, the best Craft, and the best Connections. Your job is to work hard on those three things. My job is to help you learn how to work smart.
That’s it for today! Are you excited about the prospect of writing your novel and GETTING IT PUBLISHED? You should be! Remember, you need 3 things to get your novel published. You need excellent Content. You need excellent Craft. And you need excellent Connections.
Please remember that there are no guarantees in the publishing business. It’s a tough industry, and it often takes time to find just the right publisher with the right book at the right time.
Watch for tomorrow’s lesson, when we’ll talk about the first of those in more detail: Where Do You Get Content For Your Novel?
Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D.