Friday, 3 February 2012

Getting Published: The Magic Formula

One of the best (and sometimes worst) things about being a writer is that overnight, you become magical. Get a book/feature/short story published and suddenly other aspiring writers believe you have some fantastic secret formula or an ancient spell  that will produce a puff of green smoke and a contract with William Morris.

Not my agent
Sadly, I don’t. As with every other branch of the arts (see music, dance, art or even perhaps reading the weather on local TV), it all comes down to a lot of hard work and a decent amount of blind luck. However talented you are, everyone needs a Brian Epstein/Andy Warhol/Simon Cowell to stumble across you and say ‘You’re a genius! Step this way and I’ll make you a star.’

Or at the very least, you need to catch an editor or agent at that perfect moment, when a) they have the time to read something and b) what you have written just happens to be the exact thing they’re looking for at that exact moment. Actually, THAT’s the magic formula: being there at the right time. 

But while everyone needs a lucky break, I’m also a great believer in making your own luck, i.e. the more you plug away in a positive manner, the more likely it is that someone else will notice what you’re doing and give you a leg-up.

And, it being 2012, you don’t actually need any one else’s permission to get a book published. Ten years ago, your only option was to wait until Random House or HarperCollins got around to reading your manuscript. Of course, that still holds – every new writer dreams of landing a big book deal - but that was before the internet and specifically, before the Kindle. Now you can publish your own book on the web, which exactly what I have just done in the US. It’s a bit fiddly, but it can be done.
So what’s the magic formula? Simple:
1. Write your book
2. Get it published.
3. Bask in the glory at signing events, author parties and invitations to red carpet movie premieres…preferably of film adaptations of your book!

Coke's secret formula: slightly more complicated.
Seems far-fetched, I know, but it all begins with stage one. Write that book. It doesn’t have to be a vampire book (although vampire books are the best and – have I mentioned? – there are some particularly good ones available on, in fact it doesn’t have to be a whole book. A short story, a feature, a review of someone else’s book on Amazon, even.

You can do it – start today.

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