Q & A: What if you wanted to publish a book?

Taylor asked: What if you wanted to publish a book? I’m only fourteen, but I have a book that I’m working on writing, and my goal is for it to get published.

Getting published is a great goal, Taylor. And age doesn’t matter. I’ve attended many writer’s conferences. Editors and agents are looking for great writing. So if you want to get your book published, work on it until the writing is great. There are several teen authors in my online critique group. They are working very hard to hone their writing craft, and I’m totally proud of them.

Don’t be in a hurry. I see lots of teens self publishing their books these days. And it’s fun to have a book to show your friends and to sell. But if you rush things and pay to have your book done, it won’t be the best book it could be and you’ll likely have a huge box of them in your garage.

Writing a novel takes time. Even Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park, said that he rewrote his books seven or eight times, to get them perfect.

So, if you really want to have a career as an author, write, write, write. Consider a college degree in English or Creative Writing. Have fun writing your book. Finish it. Join a critique group where you let people read and critique it. And read and critique other people’s stories, because you learn a lot that way. Read books on the craft of writing. (I recommend my favorites here.) Go back and make changes to the story to make it stronger. Rewrite bland sentences. Cut out “telling” words, useless scenes, and unnecessary backstory. Then go to a writer’s conference and get some professional feedback from editors and agents. And while you are waiting to see what they think, write a new book. Then write another. And another.

Think about it like this. If I came up to you and said that I really wanted to be a surgeon, would you let me operate on you? No way, right? I haven’t gone to school for that. I haven’t been trained. And maybe I did some research on Wikipedia, and I strongly believe that I can operate successfully. My belief doesn’t change the fact that no one is going to let me near them with a scalpel until I get a medical degree.

It’s like that with any career, and writing should be no different. It takes time to learn to write. While I didn’t go to college for writing, I do have a college degree. And I spent four years learning to write. I did all those things I suggested you do. And eventually, I had my first book published. And I wouldn’t have the success I’ve had if I had rushed and tried to self publish that first book I wrote. That first book I wrote still isn’t published. My first published novel was the fifth or sixth one I completed. That’s just how it worked out. But now that I’m published and my books are doing well, my older books have the opportunity to get sold to a publisher. So, who knows! Anything can happen. Work hard and you’ll never regret it.

Hope that helps!

Jill

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