Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So You Want to Write a Novel

I was always told I had a talent for writing, a natural affinity for words and language.  I won competitions and essay contests.  My prose was frequently published, and I charged my classmates hefty fees to tutor them in English.  I wrote for the school newspaper;  I wrote African-American history plays, for which I won many awards and accolades.

But I didn't quite comprehend how amateurish my efforts were.  Real writing has been undermined by the cavalry of celebrities out here "writing" books for the sake of seeing their name on a cover.  Sure, many of them do have something meaningful to say, but writing a novel comprises so many more elements than just having a story to tell.  The below video, as hilarious as it may be, kind of sheds light on things:

The little brown bear (it is a bear, isn't it?) is right.  No main stream, nationally acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author is going to tell you the road to stardom was simple.  Like any other talent, it requires dedication and discipline to hone your craft.  It's realizing that even when you feel you've learned all you can about the subject, you know there's still more to know, and you're eager to find out.  Remaining teachable is the best way to excel at anything, not just writing.

Most novels will never see the light of day, especially for self-published authors like me.  Self-publishing, while carrying multiple, weighty benefits not offered with traditional publishing, has its own burdens.  Like marketing.  No one will ever hear about your book, or see its flashy cover, without having first been told about it by you.  This poses a particular challenge, because any promotional venue worth having is going to cost you.  And without the funds it takes to invest in yourself and your project, your book is dead in the water, even after its sitting prettily on your living room book shelf.

If that's all you're aiming for, the satisfaction of having accomplished that achievement, then you're all set.  But if you want the world to see your work for the brilliant masterpiece that it is, you're going to have to convince them, and that costs money.  Book agents are hard to find, and even more difficult to secure.  And if you ever have the successful privilege of saying you do have one, please be well aware, they don't come cheap.  So, quite plainly, writing a book is an investment if nothing else.

I certainly don't know all there is to know; The Grim is only my first novel, and I certainly don't count the novice compilation of prose I co-authored as one of my finer moments.  But I can say my experience writing The Grim, publishing it, and now promoting it, has taught me so much about my craft.  So, if you're interested, I'll share it with you, bit by bit, in the next few blogs.  How's this: I won't even charge you.

Next in this series: So You Want to Write a Novel: The Idea


  1. You've changed your site! A work in progress but still pretty impressive. Keep getting better! I really like this post. It's honest, and the video is hilarious! I've been thinking of writing myself but never had the guts, looking forward to seeing what else you have to say about self-publishing in coming blogs.

  2. sounds like a topic i could learn something from. looking forward to the next posts in the series.

  3. Hi there,

    I wrote the animated video. Thanks for posting it on your site -- I enjoyed your blog post, too.

    David Kazzie

  4. @ Faith: thanks for the positive feedback. As always the site is a work in progress and I WILL make it better.

    @ J. Holly: I'm looking forward to the coming posts too! It's exciting to talk about my methods for writing. Hopefully, they're helpful.

    @ David: wow, what an honor! I thought your video was entertaining and truthful. Thought more writers (and pretenders) should see it.