Sunday, June 5, 2016


I get emails from various writing websites all the time.  Some of these are about how to find your voice, or how to create compelling characters, but a large number are about how to get published.  Go into any bookstore and you’ll similarly find any number of volumes detailing how to get your book published.  And since we writers are constantly seeking to get published, whether it be traditionally or independently, these books and articles tend to draw us like a lodestone.

But it got me thinking – are these types of books and articles self-serving?  It’s not like the generic person who wants a sci-fi classic is going to pick it up.  It’s designed to grab those of us who want to be published and tell us how.  And in our desperation to get our stuff out to the public, we’ll latch onto anything that claims to be able to get us to the Promised Land.

Still, just how reliable are these books?  If these folks were all that adept at getting published, why are they telling us how to get published rather than going out there and getting published themselves?  It reminds me of the old joke about how no lottery winner ever seems to be a licensed psychic.

Getting published seems to be a mix of luck, timing, and hard work.  In the traditional world, did you find the right agent at a time when he or she was looking for new clients?  In the indie world, did you find a niche no one else was filling?  That’s not to say that books about how to get published don’t have some great tips.  However, they pass themselves off as the end-all-be-all, and that if only you follow their sage advice, the path to fame and fortune is at your fingertips.  Of course, this is a great deal of marketing designed to draw in their target audience, writers, but it reminds me a bit of a carnival barker telling us how great things would be if only we gave him our money – maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t, but the barker still has our cash.

In other words, take these things with an enormous grain of salt.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research, but maybe hold off on handing over so much cash on multiple copies of different books that tell you the same thing.  After all, the authors of those how-to books just want your money as well.

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