One day the idea comes to you… yes, you can write a novel! You’ve lived through a few experiences that you can write about, or you already have a well thought out plot. You want to get started now – there’s no time to waste.
Words pour out of you; you sometimes even forget to eat. In three months you’ve written the best thing since they sliced up bread. It’s a whodunnit masterpiece, with a clever twist in the last chapter. You’ve already imagined the Amazon bestseller, the TV series, and the film. The first literary agent you send the manuscript to will be sure to love it and offer a huge advance.
With shaking fingers you type your query letter, attach the first three chapters, and send it through cyberworld to an agent whom you are sure will answer within minutes. However, the reply does not arrive until two months later, and it’s your first rejection. The agent wishes you well in your writing journey, and adds that writing is subjective and that another agent might love your book instead.
After 50 more agents do not love your book either, you are downhearted and wonder if your writing sucks. You lose confidence and join some writers’ groups for support. There you meet like-minded authors who are further on in their writing journeys. They read your manuscript and offer constructive criticism; too many repeated words, too many adverbs, weak dialogue, and plot holes you can fall down.
You hate it (and them) that they criticise your book. Isn’t it the best thing since sliced bread after all? Mindful of their advice, you tear up the manuscript and start again. A second attempt at securing a literary agent goes the same way as the first time. Wounded, you self-publish it and feel a sense of relief that it’s out there for people to buy and to decide for themselves whether it’s good or bad.
You log in to Kindle Direct Publishing countless times per day, but there are no sales until a month has passed. Exalted, you dance around the living room when one orange line appears on your sales dashboard. Three weeks later there’s a one-star review with the headline ‘Horrible’ and words to the effect of weak dialogue, bad grammar, and too many adverbs. You cry at the unfairness of it all, but you realise you are going to have to up your game and learn how to write a bloody good novel. The learning curve is steep and you’re at the bottom of it, but hey, you have a great idea for another book. This time it really will be the best thing since they sliced up bread…