Saturday, 11 January 2014

Thinking of Publishing a Novel?

Recently, I have grown tired of my day job. A change of career is greatly needed, so I have been thinking about what I could do.

Back in the nineties, Ally McBeal was one of my favourite programs, so I am now thinking that maybe I can become a lawyer. I will not bother with law school as it is far too expensive and time consuming. Besides, I have seen enough lawyer movies to have more than mastered the basics already (Jim Carrey gives a masterclass at the end of Liar Liar. I will simply do as he does.) The rest I can learn on the job. I just need to print off some business cards and stick an advert for my services online. Oh, wait, I need to pass a bar exam? So I do need to spend years at law school, after all? That puts paid to that idea.

How about medicine? I can become a doctor. That cannot be too difficult and the pay is almost as good as a lawyer's. Most illnesses are going to be obvious and any that I do not identify right away can be sorted by a quick Google search of the symptoms. This is perfect. I will put in an order for stationary bearing the title: Dr Dave. What was that? I need to attend medical school and this takes twice as long as law school? Forget that.

Personal Trainer sounds more up my street. This time I can get by without a lengthy academic degree. I have also seen enough training montages in the Rocky movies to know how to get somebody into shape. What does it matter if I am not fit myself? Rocky's coach was an old man and he trained a world champion. I just need to hang a few frozen steaks in the garage and I can get started right away. On second thoughts, I am going to give this one a miss. I put my back out when I got up to search for my Rocky dvd box set. It is going to take me a while to recuperate so I better find a job that I can do from the couch.

I will become a writer. Most of the successful ones have a fancy Creative Writing or English Degree, but that is merely optional. I studied at the school of life and have a ton of ideas for novels. Okay, so I have never paid much heed to grammar, but even Dickens had an editor. I bet that he could not tell an adverb from an adjective either. The editor will fix everything. This is definitely the best idea that I have had. I better get to work on my platform before I even start writing my book (still undecided what it is going to be about, but it will have vampires and magic in it, because everyone loves the undead and magic is cool). I will start a blog where I will tell everybody about my book whilst I write it and that way I will have a huge fan base ready and waiting upon its completion. Now I just need to get writing. Fifty thousand words should do (found something called NaNoWriMo via Google search. I'm practically an expert already). That will take a month, and then I just need to pay the editor (as little as $100 - Google, again) and I will be making money before spring arrives.

I think that I have made my point. Writing can be done by anybody, but a distinction must be made between a hobby writer and a professional writer. I am not saying that people should not, therefore, aspire to publishing a novel. I just want to make it clear that it takes a long time to become a competent writer. You need to acquire a high level of skill before you are ready to publish. A would-be lawyer does not start handing out business cards on their first day of law school and a doctor does not write prescriptions without having the requisite letters after his or her name. Writing is no different.

If you want to be a writer, you must write and read as often as possible. By all means send out samples to agents and editors (nothing will get published unless it is ready so there is no harm in trying), but if you are going to self publish make sure that you have achieved a high standard of ability first. I had written four novels (along with three partially written ones) and spent two years playing the submissions game before deciding to self publish. I also have a degree in English Literature and a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate. There is still a vast amount of information about style and grammar that I am yet to master, but my knowledge is far more advanced than the lay person and I have put it into practice enough to have achieved a level of competency that I feel is worth charging people money for (the response to my books from both strangers and friends alike, backs up this theory). There is an overused, but always relevant expression that says you must not run before you can walk. If I apply this phrase to becoming a writer, then publishing is like competing in an Olympic sprint. Remember that, as you take your first baby steps on the path to becoming a writer.

If you found this post interesting, why not sign up to join my blog using one of the tools on the sidebar to the right. You can also check out my two self published novels, The Outback, and Stealing Asia. Both are available as ebooks and paperbacks at Amazon.


  1. I write something very day, even if it is just on FB or
    I have books that I have written over the years and I still have not gotten officially published. They sit in a blog or somewhere with prayers that If i put my face out there enough, the time will come for me to take the big leaps like getting them edited and moving to either self publishing or a literacy agency. 20 years in the making are these children's books… I pray the future children will enjoy them….

    1. Hi Melissa, thanks for taking time to comment. It sounds to me like you have more than enough experience to enter self publishing. In 20 years you must have built up a body of work, which would be a massive advantage if you self published. From what I know of the industry, the most successful authors tend to be ones who have the most books to sell. I hope that you do find your publisher, but if not, the indie route is definitely worth considering. Good luck.

  2. Good points all around, much enjoyed- thank you for writing. I'll RT your twitter post.

    1. Rather, that was your Google post (using my Hootsuite publisher this morning, mistook for Twitter), excuse me.

    2. We all get confused between our social media accounts. I redirect my twitter feed through facebook and it never fails to confuse me when facebook friends react to twitter updates. It would be so much easier if it was all merged into one.