Most people have at some point thought about writing a novel, their Opus that will last long past their own due date. A brilliant piece of literary work that will be the envy of their neighbors, family and friends, a piece of work that will change the way people think, the way people look at a subject or simply a novel that will drive the most ardent skeptic to tears, the loneliest being to become lost in a fairy tale of friends. To create laughter from the written word and cause an emotional roller-coaster while never leaving ones seat.
You have an idea or story that you know every person on the face of the planet will enjoy and you believe in your writing ability, you know you have the self-discipline and there is no possible way that it won’t reach the NY Times best seller list by Christmas.
As great as that all sounds will the reality can be far different. First off, very few first time authors will ever get picked up by a publishers; rarely in fact will you ever even get through all the slush piles and get anything more than a nicely worded rejection email. At this point most authors become frustrated, angry and disappointed and then after a period of time decide that they know what the market wants and decide to self-publish their long awaited manuscript.
Now, before you think that this is an article on how not to publish or how to give up being a successful author and author website let me assure you that it is not! I just want you to know that it is not an easy process, but by following the right steps and not rushing the process you can absolutely become a successful author as long as you have the following;
A great manuscript is entirely up to you and it is a skill that can be learned and improved upon throughout life. Much like anything in life it comes down to practice. Write, write and write some more, this is the only way you will become a better writer, a great writer.
Professional book editor is absolutely essential, I cannot stress this enough. This is the number one mistake that most self-published authors make. An editor is someone that not only can point out grammatical errors but can also guide you in areas of your book that need improving. Do you have sufficient character development? Do you have a strong conflict? Heightened tension? Strong plot? These are all aspects of your novel that a great editor can help you to develop in your manuscript if they don’t already exist or will help you to tweak elements of your novel.
You will want to find an editor that has years of experience working in the publishing house, English speaking and English trained (many editorial companies use off shore editors), also, understands what publishers are looking for in both manuscript layout, genre and story development. Remember these are the people that have read thousands of manuscripts and have been critical in getting the novels that you see in book stores out there. Quite simply the difference between having your novel published without a book editor and with a great editor will be the most influential aspect to the success of your novel after the actual writing.
Great marketing is the next vital step in the success of your novel. If nobody knows about your book, no matter how fantastic it is no one will buy it. It has become more and more difficult to stand out from the massive amounts of self-published novels that are flooding the market. However, on the positive side, very few authors know how to promote their work, very few authors get their manuscripts properly edited and few dedicate the time necessary to properly market their book. This means that those that follow the right steps have a far greater chance of becoming noticed and ultimately successful.
Perseverance is entirely up to you. However, if you can see a clear defined set of steps to follow that will ultimately lead to sales and a successful novel, it makes perseverance far easier to maintain. Create those steps and follow them relentlessly until you are a successful author.
Rick Momsen is CEO of Pegasus Publishing and author of The Complete E-book Marketing and Publishing Guide