You have nothing until you have a book. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? A lot of people don’t like to hear it. I recently attended a pitch session for my second novel. There were literary agents, editors, and publishers all present at the event. Before it began, they flat out stated, “We don’t want to hear ideas, we want finished products.” Not thirty minutes later one gentleman was outside telling everyone he didn’t have a book, but he had an idea that was going to knock their socks off.
I have no idea what happened to him in or after the pitch session. Well, scratch that, I know exactly what happened. He went in, told them he didn’t have a book, and they sent him right back out. Let’s set aside the fact that he ignored their instructions. (Also a big no no) Let’s pretend for a second that they were totally cool with an idea. What do you think they would have told him instead of, “Get out. Take the shame door.”
Do you have a guess?
Are you ready?
They would have told him to write the book.
You have to have something in hand before you can sell it. Pretend for a moment that publishers didn’t exist, and it was just you and the readers. They wouldn’t want to hear your ideas either, they’d want to see what you can do. There’s an old saying that opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got them. The same goes for ideas. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they were going to write a book, I wouldn’t need to write my own. Ideas don’t do anything without action. It isn’t a product. It’s the start of something great that hasn’t so much as seen the light of day.
Okay, enough with the harsh stuff. I didn’t come here today to browbeat anybody who is looking for advice. If it sounds mean, well, I’m not sorry. It needs to be said. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. And you don’t get to write part of a book, you have to write the whole damn thing. Unless you’re writing it with someone. I have no idea how that works. I mean, seriously, does one person write a word then pass it to the next? Do they just shout things at each other while someone writes it down? Can someone explain that to me? I don’t leave my writing room much, so I don’t actually recall what other people look like
Back on topic. Writing to completion. That’s the trick of it. Even if you get a great idea for a different book halfway through. Even if you hate that chapter. Even if you despise the whole damn thing from front to back; finish the book. If you haven’t done it before, you will be amazed at what you can do in edits. Anybody who says you can’t turn a sows ear into a silk purse has never edited a book. It’s magical. Like, “Oh my God, these beans turned into a ladder to a giant’s house,” magical.
I know you want it in your hands now. Everyone does. I’m working on book number five and I want to see it too. But it isn’t going to happen for you. Writing isn’t something that falls into your lap. It’s a verb. It’s an action. It’s something you have to get out there and do, and you have to do it all the way through. If you’re looking at sites to help you, then you’re already on the right track. But no amount of reading and thinking is going to make you a writer, only pen on paper and fingers on keys can do that.
Go forth and write. The rest of us want to see what you can do.