Guest Post: Self-publishing Books & Novel Writing

Self-publishing advice guest post – the Book Doctor on Education & Novel writing.

Q: Is it more difficult to have a novel published if I don’t have a university education?

A: No, indeed! Even a few sixteen-year-olds have written good books that got published. Most universities teach us how to pass tests, not how to write novels. Even graduates with an MFA in creative writing tend to teach creative writing rather than sell their novels to publishers, and here’s why: It’s darned difficult to sell a novel, no matter how educated you are. The odds of winning the lottery sometimes seem better.

Instead of (or in addition to) a university degree, successful writers must acquire a great deal of knowledge in the craft of writing. They gain that knowledge by studying the masters, joining critique circles, getting feedback on their writing, taking classes in creative writing, and practicing, practicing, practicing and then revising, revising, and revising.

While it doesn’t take a university degree to get a novel published, it does take good writing skills and the ability to create a strong plot, believable characters, and realistic dialogue. It takes knowledge of point of view and how and when to use it. It takes a good foundation in grammar, punctuation, and syntax. It takes organization and determination and even a bit of personality to get your foot in the door with an agent. All those skills aren’t acquired overnight and rarely are acquired by writing a first novel. Many consider writing their first novel a good exercise, and afterward some go on to write marketable novels.

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