While all writers are different, they all share one common goal: to become a better writer. For many, becoming a better writer is a goal which they feel is out of their reach. This, simply is not true. Everyone has what it takes to write a story, all they need I a little help to get them started in the right direction.
Publishing is Not About Writing
First off, let’s get this myth out of the way. Why? Because for many, it is the fear of manuscript rejection that prevents them from writing. Fact is, publishing has nothing to do with writing, let alone writing well.
Publishers want authors they can promote, character they can glamorize, and a story they can sell. In other words, getting published is all about image. In the publishing world, image is everything and writing counts for little, good writing is a dime a dozen while good image is hard to find. Publishers want image, because image sells.
Publishers get hundreds of manuscripts per day, thousands per week, hundreds of thousands per year. Less than half of those manuscripts will ever be read, simply because there are not enough editors for the amount of manuscripts. To cure this problem, most publishers request one sample chapter and a cover letter instead of a manuscript. They scan your sample chapter to see if you’ve got the writing style they publish, and than they do a major analysis of your one page cover letter, to see how well you are able to present yourself.
The publisher will be looking for an author who can handle TV and radio interviews; one who will do good presenting themselves at book signings. They are looking at your cover letter and asking themselves: “Is this person mature enough to handle a world tour? Does she has the image we want our authors to have?” Never once does it cross the publisher’s mind: is this a well written book. Why? Because any book can be sold, if given the right about of hype, but not every author is able to deal with the pressures of a world tour, TV interviews, radio interviews, book signings, and if they become popular enough, the author needs to have the ability to handle crazed fans and the paparazzi.
What makes a book sell well? Is it good writing? No! Actually, I’ve got 14 years of being a sales rep under my belt, so I know the answer to this one, and it’s that the books which sell the most are the ones that received the best sales hype. Writing has nothing to do with it. Given the right kind of sales pitch, people will buy anything.
Some of the best books I’ve ever read, are rare hard to find books that no one has ever heard of; Retief and the Warlords, for instance, how many people even know that book, let alone it’s author Keith Laumer? He didn’t hire a sales rep to hype up his book, so few people know it exists.
Look at Eragon. How often do you go out and buy self-published indie books? Rarely. Why? Because most self published authors don’t have $20,000 to buy a one page ad in the New York Times and tell people they just self published a book. That’s what the author of Eragon did. Eragon has gone down in history as the most well bought piece of crap-writing the world has ever seen. Eragon is the book that has inspired millions of people to take up writing based on the sole fact that they know they can write something better.
The fact that Eragon is completely grammatically incorrect, in places out right plagiarism, and for the most part, is senseless, has not stopped that self-published book from becoming a multi-million dollar success. Why? It’s all about the sale’s pitch. People buy hype. Nobody cares if the product is as good as you tell them it is. One only has to go Christmas shopping to find that out. Hype up a piece of junk and millions of people will line up to buy it: Tickle Me Elmo is proof of that.
So what has any of this to do with you? Fear of not being published stops many would-be writers from ever writing. They feel that if they are rejected, than that means they were not a good writer. What they don’t know is that behind the scenes of publishing, writing has very little to do with getting published.
So the first step to becoming a better writer is to just erase the whole idea of publishing your story, right out of your head. You can worry aboutgetting published when the time comes. Right now, you want to worry about becoming a better writer, and the first step to that, is to actually start writing!
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This article was originally published in October 2008 under the title How To Become a Better Writer is copyright to Wendy C. Allen and The Twighlight Manor Press, and is reprinted here with permission.
To read the complete article: How to Become a Better Writer: What You Need to Know! (The Complete Article – All 15 Pages)
NOTE: If you would rather read each section individually, you can follow the links below:
How to Become a Better Writer: Part 1: Publishing is Not About Writing
How to Become a Better Writer: Part 2: Define Your Success
How to Become a Better Writer: Part 3: Know Your Genre
How to Become a Better Writer: Part 4: The Non-Fiction of Fiction Writing
How to Become a Better Writer: Part 5: Don’t Bore Your Characters
How to Become a Better Writer: Part 6: Beyond Writing