What’s the difference between someone who sells books and someone who doesn’t? Simple.
They have finished a book.
That’s all there is to it.
Now, finishing your book may seem like the most obvious thing in the world but time and time again, since having managed to get my book published and sold, I hear people with stories of years and years of blood sweat and tears devoted to an unfinished pile of words. Don’t get me wrong if you are enjoying the process, keep going. If you love watching the seasons come and go as you hover over the words ‘Chapter One’ then that’s cool. Who am I to tell you different. But if you want to sell books and become a writer that people read, for fuck sake finish the thing. Slaving for months over a character description or an intricate storyline is good if it pays off, but chances are, it won’t.
Now I don’t want to come across as a negative nelly, what I’m saying is complete. Don’t try and write the perfect book. No books are perfect and if it’s stopping you actually getting to the end then it’s doing you no good. Precious. Forget it. Your book will take up a few days at most of a stranger’s attention. Hopefully they’ll love it. Your well manicured prose and delicious payoff will delight the reader and if they’re a kind soul, they’ll tell their best mate to buy it too. But this will never happen unless you finish the thing. Be honest with yourself. Does your writing excite you? If the whole process has become a mind bending chore, stop. They say everyone has a book in them, yes. Not everyone can get it out.
Don’t be afraid to absolutely fucking love what you’ve written. If you don’t love it, no one else will. The magic thing that happens when you finish your book is that all of a sudden you transform from just another someone ‘writing a novel’ to someone who has ‘written’ a book. It’s a very powerful difference. Don’t worry if it’s good or not. Worrying if your words are sizzling and tremendously clever takes away from the fundamental point of writing something. Telling a story. Conveying an idea. Communicating. I read a lot of blog posts from tortured writers, ten years of toil and rewrites and convolution and pain. And still only on page 21. Waste of time. If you can’t finish a book in a decade and you hate it, for fuck sake jack it in.
If on the other hand the thought of a blank page fills you with a manic glee. If the spirals of coincidence and poetic grace feel like they have to explode from your fingertips. If you honestly feel that you have something to say, or a unique point of view that might change the world, then finish the damn thing. Then someone can read it, and your second book will be even better.
My first book, which I finished, can be delivered to your door with this magic click…