Q: Hi! I’m currently writing a book, and I want to get it published, but I’m in high school and that makes things a lot harder. Could you please explain the basic process of how it would get published?
A: I’m so glad you enjoy writing! I started writing short stories when I was 16, and I wasn’t sure of the next step: send it to an editor, try to find a publisher, or what? For me, reading Writer’s Digest magazine every month made a big difference, so I’d recommend starting there. Also, here are some great books about writing that you can find at your library or bookstore (or in the sidebar at left):
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack Bickham
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
(That last one is about writing movie screenplays, but much of what he says about storytelling applies to novels as well.)
When it comes to getting published, writers have more options now than ever before: ebooks, print-on-demand and traditional publishers. The world of publishing is complicated, but basically you have two paths:
1) The traditional route. This means finding a reputable literary agent who loves your work and can sell it to a publisher. My agent’s blog has a ton of good advice: http://pubrants.blogspot.com
2) Self-publish an ebook. This means doing all of the work yourself: the cover art, the editing, the promotion, and all of that. For some people, it works out great (just search online for Amanda Hocking), but probably 99% of self-published authors sell very few ebooks, if any.
But don’t worry about that yet. Long before you think about getting published, focus on the number-one writing secret every writer needs to know:
Before you do anything else, you need to finish writing your book.
You’ll learn so much just by doing it that by the time you get to the last page, you’ll be a much better writer than when you started. I know this from experience, and so does every author who ever finished a book. Writing your first book is an education in itself.
Don’t be tempted to go back and “fix” your old chapters as you go. Keep pushing ahead. Write one page after another until you reach “The End”. That’s an accomplishment you can really be proud of.
And above all, have fun writing!
Do you have a question about writing a novel? Ask it here.