Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Questions from Readers (Part 6 of 9)

Tips on Getting Published by Kathy Ide

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.


  1. Great information, Kathy. #4 Writing is long term encouraged me. I thought I was taking too long. Thank you for all your input.

    1. So glad you were encouraged by my post, Cherrilynn! I've had to remind myself of those things myself many times. :-)

  2. Thanks for the good info. It's not just the public that think writing a book is so easy. Several years ago an acquaintance came to me asking me to read the first few chapters of his book. In his mind, once the first draft (read 'finished product') was done, he would submit it to a newspaper which would then publish it in serial form. I tried to enlighten him, but unfortunately it didn't work. The opening sentence was written with such poor grammar and held nothing of interest. The rest followed accordingly. I'm assuming he has discovered by now his error in thinking. But he was unwilling to take courses or even join a critique group, so I was unable to help him. Writing is hard work and can't be learned overnight. But it is very rewarding.

    1. Amen, Diane! I run into this all the time. A new, inexperienced writer will ask me about getting an edit on his/her manuscript, and he/she is shocked to learn how much it's going to cost to get the manuscript from where it is currently to where it needs to be. I always recommend that aspiring authors take courses, join critique groups, read books on how to write. But most people think they already know how to write a best-selling book. And you can't learn what you think you already know.

  3. Two excellent comments.
    Professional writing (and I meant professional) is like any other specialized field: It takes years of dedicated work and commitment


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