The other day an old friend I hadn’t heard from in years wrote an email asking me to explain the process of getting a book published. She followed up the question with: I’m getting a divorce, so I need to get published quickly because I need an extra source of income.”
First of all…writing a book is not something one can do on a whim. It takes years of study, many failed attempts, and thousands of hours of editing and revision. Second of all, there is no such thing as getting published quickly. Even after a publishing house has accepted your work there are further edits, cover designs, marketing…a book doesn’t even make it onto the shelf for another two years. Perhaps longer if it’s a picture book. Third…very few people make much money writing books. If you add up all the time spent writing a novel and editing it, the hourly rate would be in the negatives (unless your name is Stephen King, for example).
But my friend is not alone in thinking she can pump out a book and sell it quicker than the time it would take to plan the book signing party. I come across people all the time who tell me, “I have a ton of books. They’re all in my head. As soon as I have the time, I’m going to write them and get them published.”
I wish time was the only obstacle.
The point is, having an idea is great. Wonderful, really. But without acquiring skill and hands-on practice, the book won’t amount to much more than a bunch of wrinkled paper in a drawer. You must have training.
Would you expect to pick up a guitar and strum out “Hard Day’s Night” without learning how to play it? Do you think you could do the Tango without lessons? Why would you expect to be able to write without studying the craft? There is such thing as innate talent, yes, but then that talent must be honed.
Don’t expect to write a story with little effort involved and see it on the bookshelf within the month. It won’t pay your alimony. It won’t solve your problems. But if you stick with it and work hard, your reward will be the chance to create, to invent, to become good at something that matters to you.