Want to write a book? You can. You start writing, and you keep going. At around 80,000 words, youâ€™ve got yourself a book. Now what? You sell the bookÂ to a major publisher, hit the bestseller lists, and order your new cherry-red Ferrari.
Thatâ€™s how writing a book and getting published works. But if you try to follow that process – just sit down and start typing – the chances that youâ€™ll sell the book are slim. To sell your book you need to know the kind of book youâ€™re writing before you start, and also whether thereâ€™s an audience for that kind of book. It sounds unfair, but in order to sell your book, you have to prove to the publisher that people will want to read it.
What Kind of Book are You Writing?
Most new authors start on their book writing and publishing adventure by reading a book and getting inspired. They donâ€™t think about the kind of book theyâ€™re writing, or who would want to read it.
There are basically two kinds of books: truth and lies, otherwise known as nonfiction and fiction (novels). Some hundred thousand books are published in English each year, both nonfiction and novels. You must know what kind of book youâ€™re writing before you start.
Letâ€™s imagine that youâ€™ve read a Harry Potter novel, and youâ€™re so enthusiastic that youâ€™re inspired to write your own childrenâ€™s novel. The words pour out of you; youâ€™re on fire. You write and write and write, and the pages pile up on your computerâ€™s hard drive.
This is great. While youâ€™re writing, ask yourself: â€œIn a bookstore, where would this book of mine be shelved?â€
If youâ€™re not sure, go to a bookstore and wander around the shelves. Is your book in the nonfiction section? In the childrenâ€™s section? In the romance novel or mystery section?
If youâ€™re inspired by Harry Potter, you know youâ€™re writing a childrenâ€™s novel. Imagine your book on the shelves, right beside the rows of Harry Potters.
This isnâ€™t an idle exercise, or a fantasy. You must know what youâ€™re writing, so please visit that bookstore. â€œWhat is it?â€ is the first thing an agent will want to know when you contact her to represent your book. Itâ€™s also the first thing an editor at a publishing house will want to know.
So, what are you writing? If you donâ€™t know, or arenâ€™t sure, think about it and visit a bookstore if you need to. You can write a book and get publishedÂ if you know what youâ€™re writing, and who will want to read it.
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