I have always believed that novel writing is its own reward. But publishing a novel, of course, is the real prize that awaits you.
Before we get started, I quickly want to deal with a common myth - namely, getting published takes luck.
No, it doesn't to publish a novel, you simply need to write one to a publishable standard...
If you work hard enough for long enough, there is nothing to stop you succeeding.
If you don't get published, bad luck is the thing you blame it on.
Sure, you need to be persistent. The first literary agent who reads your manuscript might not recognize it for the great piece of writing it is, so you'll need to be willing to approach lots of them. You might also need to be willing to scrap the first novel and write a second, better one.
But cream always rises to the top in the end.
Never forget that. And leave the moaning about bad luck to those writers who were not willing to work hard enough or long enough to succeed.
So how do you go about getting published?
If you had asked me that ten or fifteen years ago, the answer would have been a lot simpler. Since the advent of the Internet, the picture is a lot more complicated. But let's keep things easy for now and begin with a look at...
Before diving too deeply into the articles, are you sure that you are not trying to publish your novel before you are ready?
Although having an online presence (your own blog or Facebook page) is a good idea for any published novelist, doing things "traditionally" basically means getting published without any help from the 'Net. There are two ways to achieve this...
The first batch of articles will help you make sense of these options...
Okay, I'll save you some time here. Years ago, it was relatively common to approach publishing houses without bothering to find an agent first. Nowadays, you'll have a very tough time taking this route.
Read the article for the longer explanation of this. Or make life easy on yourself and accept that finding a literary agent (who will then sell your novel to a publisher for you) is virtually a "must do."
So the next step is to actually find a literary agent. And my best advice here is to be persistent. Sure, you might get lucky and have your novel accepted by the first agent you approach. But more likely you will need a good strategy for the long haul facing you.
Once you have decided where you will send your novel (and, like I say, sending it to agents is really a no-brainer), you will need to know which literary agencies to send it to, as well as what, precisely, you should send.
I am still talking about "traditional" publishing, remember - and in the case of self publishing, doing it the old-fashioned way is not for those of you who prefer a gentler life.
In a nutshell, what are the pros and cons of self publishing?
Anyway, check out the article above for more on "traditional" self publishing (including a look at Vanity Publishing). Or keep reading for a discussion of the shape of things to come...
Everything I have said so far on this page still holds true. But what is also true, since Mr. Internet entered our lives and made himself at home, is that everything has changed...
Confused? The articles below will hopefully un-confuse you...
The answer, of course, is "no" - but it probably will die if it fails to embrace the new opportunities open to writers online. In this article, I look at the challenges facing traditional publishers, the changing face of book selling, and the future of paper and of novels themselves.
Well, maybe "complete" guide is pushing it a bit. After all, my expertise, such as it is, lies in how to write novels, not how to sell them.
Nevertheless, if you are at least curious about this third way of getting published, my guide represents a pretty good push in the right direction.
(And if you decide that it definitely for you, don't miss my look at what are called Print On Demand Publishers.)
I am well aware that a lot of you, after reading everything above, will still have your hearts set on the traditional route to publication. And that is okay - bricks-and-mortar publishing houses have been around for many years and are not going to disappear any time soon.
Like it or not, though, times are changing - hence the information on publishing fiction online. You can use it in three ways...
I really can't advise you on which option is best. It's down to you and your novel. All I can say for sure is that, whatever method of publishing your novel you choose, don't just dabble in it but embrace it with everything you've got.