5 Things to Know Before Writing a Book
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For many, writing a book is the ultimate dream; after all, the book is one of the most enduring mediums ever created, and great books, as well as their authors, attain a sort of immortality few other avenues can offer. Yet anyone who has ever actually sat down to write a book knows that creating a piece of literature, be it autobiographical, fictional, fantastical, or scientific, is hardly a walk in the park. With that in mind, then, here are five things an aspiring author should know before writing a book:
1) You Don’t Have to be Hemingway to get Published– Many aspiring authors, and especially those who are also lovers of literary giants like Hemingway or Faulkner, mistakenly believe that getting published is as difficult as writing a Nobel Prize worthy piece of literature. Quite to the contrary, while achieving commercial and critical success does require literary competency, anyone with the dedication to complete, promote, edit, and market their book can see his or her name in print. Even the New York Times’ list of bestsellers is home to works that lack critical acclaim; through clever and dedicated promotional work and a knowledge of one’s audience, authors can achieve success without being “the voice of a generation.”
2) There are Rules– It is a romantic, and perfectly understandable, notion that writing books allows for a complete creativity not possible in other mediums and fields. While writing is a more open-ended practice than, say, film making, it is a relatively conservative medium, like almost everything that is consumed by large swaths of the population. A book, no matter what its target audience or intent, should have a story arc, character development, and the evolution of a hero, just to name a few literary mainstays.
3) Write it Before You Sell it– While accomplished, acclaimed authors can submit projects to publishing companies using sample chapters and an outline, undiscovered authors are not shown such liberties. Authors looking to get a work published should know that they will need a complete copy of their opus ready in order to advance forward in the publishing process. This might not be a bad thing; the necessity of completing a work before publishing it can act as an incentive to beginning authors to complete an entire book, a task many writers never accomplish.
4) Writing is Hard– While it may sound obvious, the actual difficulty of writing full time, as well as taking on a task that sometimes might feel insurmountable, is often lost on even the most gifted aspiring writers. Writing a book is real work, despite the pleasure that people interested in writing a book likely derive from the creative experience. On top of that, writing for long hours with little human interaction can be lonely work, especially for people accustomed to working with other people. Many a plucky first-time author has started out to complete a book without taking into account how hard the life of a writer can be, and this has doomed more than a few aspiring authors from the start.
5) Rejection Happens– Some 200,000 books are published in the United States every year, and for each of those books, there are piles of manuscripts left on the cutting room floor, and even more rejection letters. Rejection, and coping with not having things come easily, when at all, is a large part of writing a book, if not the most glamorous aspect of the process. If writing a book is a major goal for an author, trying and trying again must become a way of life.
Writing a book might not be a walk in the park, but if authors take the proper precautions and put in the work, they can see their literary dreams come true, whether that be a positive review, or simply holding a book with their name on the cover in their hands.