Published - a dream come true?

It is natural for writers to have the goal of getting published as their main focus. It is a dream come true when, after years of hard work, you hold your own book in your hands with its beautiful cover.

At last we hold tangible evidence of the many hours spent working on the story line. 

The act of getting published validates all that effort. This is especially the case if the publisher is a traditional publisher. Someone else has validated your hard work, your effort.

It is just the beginning of the story. Writer’s royalties are not high so the writer has to sell thousands of copies in order to make a reasonable living. A new writer has to win the trust of readers so that they willingly pay for an unknown force. How does he or she do that? Part of the answer lies in making sure the story is well edited and that it has appeal to a reader.

Two approaches are to give books away to start the process of becoming known to readers, therefore, creating a loyal following. Many more seek reviews.

Each approach is valid and often the only way for a writer to rise above the millions of titles on Amazon. But it does suggest that the effort to become a successful writer is not simply to write a good book. The process is complex and multi-layered.

These days a writer is lucky to get a publisher. Once they have one the writer remains responsible for raising his or her profile and driving sales. The advantage to having a traditional publisher is that they may have access to a distribution network and funds for some marketing. But the writer then pays for accepting low royalties which in turn means they need high sales.

Success is hard won in the writer’s world. If they go with the model which gives out free copies of their novel they may eventually gain a substantial following. However, there will be buyer resistance when a price tag is attached to something that was once ‘free’.

Getting reviews adds another layer of distraction and takes a writer away from his or her passion. Yet reviews are essential to gaining readers’ attention.

Writers trying to get established discover quickly that life becomes an ‘either or’ situation – either you write and starve or you stop writing, get a paid job and eat. Another option is the one that most go for – that is to try to juggle both and in this neither master is served well.

In the time it has taken you to read this blog a new book was loaded onto Amazon. By the end of the year that will equate to millions. Somehow a writer has to navigate through all that noise to make his or her voice heard. I wonder how the reader fares who is simply looking for a satisfying read.

No question, a writer has a tough journey ahead if he or she is to succeed. Persistence is the only answer but the journey is not for the faint hearted.

The 'Breaking the code: from published to best-selling author’ symposium in Melbourne on 6-7 October grapples with these mind boggling complexities. I feel sure the debate will continue after it has ended. However, I hope it will encourage new thinking that inspires and energises writers.


getting published
self publishing


A really good blog that sums up all my experiences over the last 30 years. It is a tough journey and there is little reward financially. However, having a following of readers who enjoy ones work is the most rewarding experience of all. We write because we have an urge to be creative and entertain and forever hope that our creation will catch the eye of an agent or publisher. Loved this, Suraya.
Thank you Ray. I'm planning a series of these. And yes, it is an incredibly tough journey. No mistake about that. I'd be keen to hear if you have some ideas of how writers might avoid the 30 years of pain you have experienced.