Write a Novel

So, you wrote your book?
Good, I’m happy for you.
What are you going to do about it?

You have a plan, right?
That’s okay…
Don’t worry. Let’s talk about it.

Writing a book takes a lot. It takes a lot of passion, it takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of time, and you have a huge personal investment in that work. So, a simple question to consider is this: “What are you going to do about it?” If your answer to this is “Nothing, I’m going to leave it on my computer forever.” Well, you’ve wasted a lot of the aforementioned things.

Do something with your work, because if you don’t there’s a chance that you will regret it.


I’m just joking. It’s not that serious! Relax!

However, I don’t want you to wish you had done something, later. So, let’s talk about your options for getting your work out there. Let’s call our two options Traditional Publishing (TP) and Modern Publishing (MP).

Traditional Publishing is the original way of doing it. This has a few pros and cons, so lets go over them. TP will get you a few things that MP won’t – publicity, some degree of security, and no costs. The traditional method ensures that all your costs become the publisher’s costs. This includes things like professional editing, professional cover design, interior design, etc. This is good. Most of it. One of the major downsides is that the publisher may (and often does) impose changes in work. Chapters might be removed, for example. They may request that you add to the book. They are in the position to make demands because you are, essentially, working for them. While this isn’t always the case, it’s important to remember.

Consider also that getting to that point is not easy. It all starts from one very important piece of work. You have to pitch your book. You need an agent, your agent will sell your book, but you need to get that agent first. This is where the Query Letter comes in. Basically, this is the letter that will get your potential agent interested in you.

It has to be good. Seriously. Very, very, very good. I’ve heard people joke that their query letters were better than their books. It was probably only a half-joke.

If you get your letter in order, net yourself an agent, and they get you a deal, well… Congratulations! You’re done!

Good luck

Let’s talk about Modern Publishing now. MP is the new age of digital publishing and Print On Demand (I like calling it POD for short). No editors needed. No agents needed. No big fancy publishers needed. You go from nothing to published pretty quickly (theoretically). MP tends to have a higher rate of return (you get more money!) than TP.

What’s the catch? Lots of things.

First of all: All costs are your costs. If you want a good book design, you have to pay for it. If you want a really good editing job, you have to pay for it. If you want advertising done, you have to pay for it. You see where I’m going with this? Good.

You and I, lets be honest, wouldn’t buy a book for twenty dollars if the cover looked like a five-year old with a box of crayons did it. Sure, you can click “publish” and then you’re done. And your book will sit there, ignored, forever. Why? Don’t kid yourself. MP is about getting returns on investments. I don’t mean that you have to invest a lot of money, just that you need a lot of investments.

Okay, let’s look at it this way:

Your investments are a question of a few different things – time, money, etc. Time can, in many respects, be very valuable. In some cases, giving time is better than giving money. We’re in 2013! Use the Internet and connect with people, build those connections, and nurture them. If you don’t know editors, you can meet them. Social Networking is a great way to do this.

Don’t be selfish! Don’t abuse connections, because the Internet is two things – very big and very unforgiving. If you are genuine and honest and want to be successful. If you care about people and maintain those connections. If you are smart about it, you will be successful.

Learn what tools are available to you. Others out there know and you can (and should) get to know them. There are communities and groups that will help you. But they won’t if they don’t know you. Go and get to know them.

I’m sure you’ve read about those people who got lucky. Very lucky. They sold a billion copies of their e-book and now have castles. That is not you. It’s not me either. It’s not 99.9% (roughly) of the writers out there. Most of us work very hard for what we get.

And we like it. Seriously.

Here’s the final point. Pay attention…

There is a chance that MP can lead to TP. It’s possible. I’ve seen it done and even some of my close friends have managed it. It is not something that just happens. People have to know people. People have to pass your work on. People have to like it. People have to think that your work is worth it.

How badly do you want it?

Show me.

About the Author: These two posts are by guest blogger Derek McPhee, a Canadian expat living in Japan. He is an editor and the author of The Smallest, Narrowest Places, short stories about foreigners in Japan after the 3/11 earthquake. He drinks coffee, writes, and dislikes pineapple. 

Give me more!

Writing a Novel – The Hard Truth

Self-publishing: to Proofread or Not to Proofread?