Friday, 4 July 2014

How to write a novel, get published, and sell books!

Yeah, already, you've guessed I don't have the answers, because you're reading a blog post from me, Craig Saunders, thinking, who the fuck is Craig Saunders? Exactly. Ninety percent of 'Get Published!' books/articles/blogs are by people, like me, you've never heard of.

Nobody needs another how-to guide, but people ask all the time, and for some reason, people seem to ask me, too. I'm not famous or rich, but here's a little break down. Three easy steps:

How to Write a Novel:

There's so much out there, telling you how to write. First, and probably most importantly, stop reading those books and read novels instead. Read, write. The actual process of writing is pretty simple - put some words together, try to spell those words close enough to the actual spelling for your word processor or editor to understand them. Tell a story. None of those are essential, though. Mostly, you have to sit down and do it. You can write a novel without being great at spelling, grammar, or reading. It might not be very good...but if you sit down and write it you'll be 100% closer to writing than the guy still reading the 'how-to' book.

There's no 'how-to' book that can tell you how to write a novel. Read, see what people do. Write, listen to feedback from people with a little sense. Write more, read more. Eventually, you'll figure out what you want to do. You're not going to write a masterpiece first time out...probably. Who knows? Get on with it. Find out.

Best book about writing I read by someone I'd heard of? Stephen King, On Writing. Basically, it boils down to 'Learn your trade. Put some effort in.'

How to Get your Novel Published:

Be nice, be patient, don't give up.

That's that, then. Sure, you need to research your market, or maybe hook a great agent who'll do all this stuff for you (well, within their remit, obviously...) or know your stuff if you're going to try for independent publishing. But really, if you want a publisher to pick up your work, it's going to have to be pretty good...but crappy books get published, too. Realistically, if you write, submit, write,'ll get better at it, people will remember you, and you will get published. Might take a while, but as long as you carry on learning, you'll get there.

But not, possibly, if you're an arse about it. People remember you if you're nice. They remember you if you're an arse, too, though. And yes, publishers, editors, writers, artists...they do talk to each other.

How to Sell Books:

Sell your book to a big publisher...great! Get an advance, retire...great! Average advance, though, isn't huge...and it's an advance against royalties. So you're still going to need to sell some books.

That's a bugger, then, isn't it?

Honestly, if I knew this, I wouldn't be writing on blogspot. I'd have my own highly salubrious domain name, and write in a study, instead of the shed. There are plenty of sensible people who can steer you in the right direction. J.A. Konrath's blog's good. Having a big publisher with a huge budget for promotion certainly won't hurt. Be on social media, frequent conventions, do any and all interviews you can...

But if you think you're going to write your book, sell millions and never have to work for it, you're almost definitely wrong.

My advice on selling books - buy a goat. Sacrifice a goat. Hope for the best.

It's not magic, but it's close.

Having a good book often helps (not always). People knowing about your book helps (not always). Presentation helps (yeah...see a pattern?). But either way, if you write one book, and sit down and don't write anything else for five years...probably won't happen.

Long and short of all this is, it's work. Writing is a job, like any other. Write, submit, upload, invest your time, read, write, get out and about, read, write...

Quit reading stupid blog posts about writing and write.

Shit, I'm sure I should be doing something...