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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Publishing's Secret Handshake

Since the invention of the printing press there's been a rumor that you need to know some secret to get your book published. There's always this idea that it's who you know, or that some magical phrase in your query letter will get your book a fast-pass to stardom. And for as long as this rumor has prevailed the people of publishing - authors, agents, publishers - have all denied there is any secret handshake that gets you into the Published Authors Club.

This is a lie.

There is one thing that everyone - author, agents and publishers - will all agree on. If you ask about it they all say, "Well, of course that! Doesn't everyone do that?"

Are you ready for the secret handshake for publishing? Are you ready to hear what all the published authors know? Okay. Here it goes...

The secret handshake to publishing is: Hard Work.

Every single author you've read got their books on the shelf - virtual or otherwise - by consistently working hard. Every book you've ever read was created through hundreds upon thousands of hours of intense, dedicated labor.

If you want to write one draft and be done, publishing is not the career for you. Which isn't to say you can't have an audience. You certainly can. There are plenty of places on the web where you can post a first draft of anything and find an audience. But it won't be the professional playing fields.

If you want to be a published author who becomes a household name, you need to get to work.

There is no short cut.

There are going to be times where you feel like you're spinning your wheels. You're going to write the first draft of a book and think you've wasted six months because the plot is flabbier than Jabba the Hutt. You're going to get rejections. That's part of hard work.

If you never fail, you've never tried. Failure goes hand in hand with success.

You are going to fail somewhere along the way. Stand up. Shake it off. Move on.

You are going to work hard every day, through every stage of publishing. The work doesn't stop when you get an agent, or sign a book deal, or see the book on the shelf. When Book One comes out you better be working on Book 2, or 3, or the new series. Your fans will want more.

The age of One Book Authors is over. No one makes a career of note with a single book anymore. You aren't Harper Lee. Let that dream go.

Now, go get your comfy writing clothes. Grab a water bottle. Turn off the distractions. Open your manuscript, and get to work. The only person who can write this story is you.


  1. Yeah, it's interesting when you start looking at "overnight successes" how many of those people have years of effort of applied hard work getting to where they were when they had their "overnight success".

    1. There aren't Overnight Successes. They're hard working authors who went from obscurity (but decent sales and lots of hard work) to super popular overnight. They didn't write the book in a day. They did have a path strewn with gumdrops and roses. They all worked hard for what the recognition their books earned.