Most people have little idea what’s involved in being a published author. The public thinks it’s merely a question of stringing words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into chapters, and voila! A complete manuscript. Send it to your favorite publisher, who will print it, advertise it, and place it in bookstores, then get ready for a call from the TV networks.
The reality is that being a published author is considerably more complex.
Most successful book authors didn’t start out writing books. Almost without exception, they cut their teeth on smaller pieces: magazine articles, short stories, devotionals, play scripts, and curriculum.
1. Writing is a craft. It’s learned by practice. Short pieces allow aspiring writers to gain experience.
2. Writing is a business. Getting short pieces published provides aspiring writers with a résumé to send to book publishers.
3. Writing is an industry. Getting short pieces published helps writers get to know people in the industry and make contacts that will be valuable when the time comes for them to start pitching their book-length manuscript.
4. Writing is long-term. It usually takes months to write a good magazine article, or short story. It takes additional months to find a publisher that will accept it. Then it takes even more months for publication. A book, however, takes years to write, years to find a publisher, and years to get into print.
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—Kathy Ide, author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series, is a full-time freelance editor/writing mentor and teacher. She is the founder and director of the Christian Editor Connection and The Christian PEN.