… is that how to get published is not a secret.

An author friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she is continually being accosted by people wanting to know how to get published.   Being a lesser light than that good lady I am not deluged with such requests, but it does happen.  So on behalf of the myself and all of the authors out there that have to deal with such queries I’m going to lay it out for you, including my ‘secret.’

The first thing to understand is that people asking how to get published are either terminally thick or are hoping to hear some secret that will magically allow them to find a shortcut to selling a book to a publisher.  I can say this with some confidence because in this day and age you’d have to be terminally thick not to realize that the exact process of getting published is well known and easily discovered.  There are endless blog posts, articles and hundreds if not thousands of books that will walk you through the process from start to finish.  There is no excuse for not being able to discover this information for yourself.  This being the case if we exercise the charity to assume that the writer is not a moron they must really want something other than what they are asking for:  The ‘secret’ method of getting published.

The problem with the standard, well documented method of getting published is that it’s hard, tedious, heartbreaking and takes a long time.  There must be an easier way, right?  Sadly there isn’t.  You need to write a good book and send it to publishers.  Wait for the nearly inevitable rejection letter and do it again and again and again until some one bites.  Meanwhile you keep writing and sending out manuscripts.  Eventually you may sell a novel and then, while success is not guaranteed, there is probably at least one editor that will look at your work without simply tossing it in the slush-pile.  There are still no guarantees but you at least have a foot in the door.

In fairness that’s not how I did it… but my method isn’t a secret and it’s not easier, just luckier.  Here it is in a nutshell if you want to try it:

Spend your entire adult life becoming an ‘expert’ in an esoteric field that is of interest to some best-selling authors and write about that subject endlessly in the appropriate online venues. Eventually write and self-publish a book on the topic. Have the enormous good luck to have a close friend that has a professional relationship with a best-selling author interested in that field, get an introduction and then get to know that author.  Help them with a big project and when the opportunity to write something for that project drops in your lap take it.

If you think that is easier than the ‘traditional’ method feel free to give it a try.  Let me know how that works out for you.

Here’s my ‘for-real’ advice: Read a LOT.  Write until your ass falls off and then write some more.  When you have a good story have it edited, proof read etc. and when you have whipped it into something that looks professional either start submitting it or self-publish it.  Both methods have their proponents, advantages and pitfalls, all of which are endlessly well-documented on the internet.  In the end the ‘secret’ is that there are no secrets, just bloody hard work.  Maybe a bit of luck.

Oh, and one more thing- don’t give up.  In the words of Winston Churchill: ‘When you are going through Hell keep going.’