How I Got Published

As a writer, I have read a few articles about getting published. Honestly, it sounds like a lot of work. But lots of people do it. Here I share with you the secrets of the few, and give practical advice on how you should get published.

1. Get an agent. I’m not very clear on this. It appears that the more lavishly you can bribe an agent, the more likely you are to get published. So, if you want to get published, you should become a millionaire. If you are a millionaire already, a publishing company will probably pay you to publish your book which you actually paid someone else to write for you. (See step 4.)
If you don’t want to become a millionaire, you should write a letter to an agent or a publishing house and hope that either your writing or the first paragraph of your story is good enough to hold an audience. (I received my first rejection letter this way for
BLOWN UP.) 

2. Publish through AmazonYes! Amazon has agreements with companies who will print your book on demand. They will also buy books from you to sell. In order to be successful in this game you must provide your own publicity for the book. Or you could just be really good, get spiffy reviews, and become an overnight sensation. I recommend becoming an overnight sensation. People get really tired of hearing about how amazing your writing is, really fast. (It probably isn’t as amazing as you think it is.) Amazon also publishes E-books, which are a win-win situation for them, because it costs them almost nothing, but they make a hefty profit. If one is going to do that, I ask why not:

3. Write a BlogOne can actually make money through a blog. This is the way web comics work. One can get a following and customize the environment. Blogs provide more freedom than publishing in a underread magazine does. (Hey look! I just published again when I hit the “Publish” button!) However, if you can’t write (or draw entertaining pictures) you make less than if you sent the story off to some obscure magazine. 

4. Become a PoliticianI remember when Bill Clinton published his memoirs. They were everywhere. I don’t think I ever met anyone who read them. Suddenly, every serious politician was writing a memoir. I fail to see the appeal. Unless the writer is excellent or my favorite person ever, I become disgusted with the egotism. I would like to see a presidential candidate write a memoir in the style of Patrick F. McManus. I would read that. So. If you want to get published, you should run for office.

5. Become infamous (or a jurist). Did you know that the transcripts of federal court and committee proceedings may be published? No one will ever read them, but they do get published. You can find them at your local college library.

6. Become a scientistWrite papers about discoveries or failures to discover things. (“It was concluded that the above process for forming benzyl acetate is impractical due to poor yield and a competing polymerization reaction.”) The writing must be decent to be published in a good magazine, and few outside one’s field will ever read it. I’ve actually gotten published this way! You get the best of both worlds! Both well-written and under-read, no one will believe you’re a writer. 

However, somewhere in the bowels of a research lab, a student may one day find your paper, realize you had the same problem, and empathize. And that is what being a writer is all about.  

Thanks, xkcd.

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