8. How to write your best selling novel, by a best selling author.

Posted by on Dec 11, 2017 in Articles, How to write | Comments Off on 8. How to write your best selling novel, by a best selling author.


Getting your book published.

I wonder if you’ve skipped forward to this part because, like the people who jump ahead to the conclusion of a murder mystery novel, this bit is the point of it all for you. Well, like the revelation in a whodunit, the answer to getting published really has no worthwhile context unless you’ve read the previous chapters. But as you’ve cheated and you’re here, you might as well read on.

“Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.”

– Margaret Atwood

The answer to your question is, yes, the butler did it and, yes, you can get published. In fact, as I said on page one (or two), getting published has never been easier. But at this point it might be worth asking yourself again why you started writing in the first place? Was there a story you were burning to tell? Were the voices in your head refusing to leave you alone? Were you hoping to write an international best seller so that, having been retrenched, you won’t have to sell your house? Were you after fame and glory? Was the attraction of lording it over you own world as God way too seductive to pass up? Perhaps it was one, all or some of these reasons. Whatever the motivations were for spending the last 12 months hunched over the word processor (rather than hitting the pub) will determine your level of satisfaction over the way in which your book is published.

But first, let me give you a little insight into publishing as it stands right now. Printed books are making a bit of a comeback. The growth in eBooks has stalled. Unfortunately, they’ve stalled at around 10 per cent of the volume, which is probably the lion’s share of the profit for bookstore owners. Publishers, though, are much happier than they were, even if many of the book chains have gone. (In Australia, there used to be four big ones: Borders, Angus and Robinson, Collins and Dymocks. Now only Dymocks remains. There has been some carnage in the US too with the closing of Atlantic, Coles, Borders and others.) I’m not at all sure how much of book sales are impulse purchases, but when the retail environment is a quarter what it was, there are far less opportunities to buy. It could be that the demise of these bookstore chains and the stagnation of eBooks means that the market has stabilized and that this favors the remaining book stores, who now have a more viable business with 75 per cent of the competition skittled. I’m sure there’s a point of view about that in publishing boardrooms.

None of this augurs particularly well for new authors determined to have their point published the old fashioned bookshop way. While bookshops are still ravenous for new titles, as are publishers, that hunger is probably for more Michael Connolly, Kathy Reich’s and Dean Koontz product (and the like) than it is for new blood.

Many publishers these days simply don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. And the ones that do add the manuscripts to the slush pile in a closet and there they pretty much stay, because there’s not enough margin in the publishing business to hire readers to work their way through the pile, looking for the cream. If you are the cream, publishers expect you will probably find other ways to rise to the top, ways that won’t cost them.

So if you are determined to go the route of legacy publishing, and are desperate to have trees slaughtered so that you can see your title printed and sitting in a bookshop “new release” section, my advice would be to approach a literary agent. An agent – especially a highly reputable one – who is prepared to spend his or her time reading and promoting your manuscript, well that’s a recommendation for a new author that publishers will listen to.

But there is another route, which I touched on earlier. And if your aim is simply to get published, you need look no further. Amazon.com and its various national iterations have been great for new novelists. There are several companies than can help you prepare your manuscript for distribution on Kindle devices. They can also assist with print on demand. A couple of websites to look at along these lines are createspace.com and iuniverse.com

If your ambition stretches to selling your book to people you aren’t related to, an excellent place to begin your journey would be at Goodreads.com. This is a very large community of readers and authors and, I believe, the odd publisher snooping around for hidden gold. For a smallish fee you can submit your finished eBook to the community and have it read widely. If you are indeed the new J.K. Rowling with your towering saga about King Hopper and his brutal campaign to enslave all of Planet Xorg, the community at Goodreads.com will unearth you and fling your star high into the firmament. In short, word will get around the site and readers will recommend you to other readers and before you know it you’ll have an army of advocates spruiking your book for you.

“Content is King. Promotion is Queen.”

– Bob Mayer

Don’t, however, stop there. Get yourself a Facebook page, and sign up for Twitter and Instagram and social media the shit out of yourself and your writing. Answer every inquiry personally, write witticisms, post every day, even selfie your flaccid ass in the mirror if it nets you followers. Upload, upload, upload is the secret. The world really does love a shameless self-promoter, especially if it’s done with charm and a sense of humor. But even those aren’t necessary if you are relentless about it or you have a nice ass (see image). And post the odd cute kitten.

So there you pretty much have it. I do hope you take up the option to join my blog. I’ll happy answer your questions and help where I can.

Off you go now and get writing. Toodle-oo.

David