Do You Have a Book In You?
While many readers are content to lose themselves in a good book and have no ambitions to write a novel of their own, many others wonder whether they might be able to write a book. It’s sometimes said that everyone’s got a book in them, and that could be true – after all, anyone can type out a novel-length story on their laptop and say they’ve written a book. The real question is, have you got a good book inside you?
The only way to know for sure is to get writing, but many would-be authors choke at the thought of setting their ideas down on paper, because of the fear of failure. It’s a common enough experience – if you don’t try, you can’t fail, and therefore you can avoid the embarrassment and disappointment of not being good enough. It sounds logical, and it’s certainly true, because if you don’t try you definitely won’t fail; but neither will you succeed.
If fear of failure is holding you back, only you have the power to change your mindset. There are plenty of inspirational resources available online that explain why you feel this way and how to overcome your fears, so find the answers to your problem and get rid of your worries. Overconfidence isn’t so much of a problem, because if you believe you’re a great writer, at least you’ll be writing and submitting!
The good news is that it’s never been easier to write and publish your own novel, so you can avoid the issue of rejection from agents and publishers altogether if you wish. Getting signed to a major publisher is still the best way to achieve fame and fortune, but realistically only a very few authors make a living from their writing, let alone make a fortune from it! The development of self-publishing has revolutionized writing as an industry, and is far more widely accepted than the old niche of vanity publishing.
Vanity publishing was a scheme whereby you would pay to have your book printed, most often because publishers didn’t consider it good enough to add to their list. That meant most vanity publishing was looked down upon, but the concept has now morphed into a huge and profitable self-publishing sector, enabling anyone to get their book online for free or at very low cost.
You still have to pay to get hard copies of your book printed, but as technology has developed in recent years it’s now far easier to print short runs of books for private individuals, and many business owners and entrepreneurs self-publish books that they use for marketing and promotion, and to establish their industry credibility. The cost of getting your book printed is within reach of people even on a modest income, and could easily be covered by a small personal loan. Check out this Bonsai Finance article for details of loans you could apply for.
Deciding to write your novel is the first step; now you need to think about what you’re going to write about. If you already have an idea, that’s great; if you don’t, or you can’t choose between several possibilities you’ve come up with, try jotting down a few notes and seeing what develops from them. Dream diaries are good for inspiration, and there are some fantastic books written by successful authors who know what they’re talking about that would be helpful for you to read. If you’re completely stumped, try an ideas generator, which is a tool that you can use in hard copy or online that helps you come up with an outline concept for your novel. One of the joys of writing is that once you get started you often find the writing takes on a life of its own, and you can get to a point where your typing speed can’t keep up with the rate that the words are coming into your head.
Everyone finds a writing style that suits them, whether it’s plotting every step of the story in great detail or making it up as you go along; whether you get up at four am and write for five hours, or stay up until midnight each evening writing. The guidebooks, writing courses and other resources will offer their own take on the best way to write your novel, and you’ll soon see there will be contradictions in their advice. They aren’t necessarily wrong with what they’re saying, just relaying what worked best for them; so if one approach doesn’t stick, try another.
When you write your first draft, you don’t need to worry about grammar, punctuation, typos or any of the intricacies of the written word. You simply want to get your story out so that you have a completed manuscript. Once it’s written, you can edit, proofread and polish your book to your heart’s content, but if you’re continually going over each page as you write you could waste months or even years editing and rewriting. You’ll find that almost always the best results are achieved by getting the story out in full and then sharpening it up later.
If you can get your novel read by other people it can give you a lot of useful feedback on whether it works as a story and how well it’s written. New authors often ask friends and family, but make sure the people you ask will give you an honest opinion. If your mom would tell you it was brilliant no matter how awful it might be, her comments won’t be very useful. On the other hand, if your best friend can be relied upon to tell you the honest truth, that will be far more helpful. You can also join writers groups or have your work professionally assessed for a fee.
When you’re finally happy with your novel, it’s time to get it out into the big wide world, either by finding an agent or publisher or opting for self-publishing. Either way, whatever happens and however many copies you sell, you’ll have succeeded in becoming a published author, and that’s something you should be very proud of.