So you want to write a book?

writer,writing,screenwriting,screenwriter,author,amazon,kindleI’ve received a number of mails recently from people who are keen to write books and need advice on how to go about it.

Invariably, these mails ask about finding an agent and/or a publisher as well as any one of twenty questions relating to the actual process of getting a book from brain to bookshelf. However, whilst I’m always keen to encourage new writers, it’s fair to say that most of the people who contact me need (and receive) a reality check.

The truth is that when you’re starting out on the rocky road of penmanship, you don’t need an agent and unless you are incredibly famous or staggeringly lucky, the chances of you securing a publishing deal are pretty much zero. What you do need however, are words on pages. Lots of them.

So if you want to write a book, the best way to start is to simply sit down and get writing. And once you have a few thousand words on your hard drive, you’ll soon realise any number of things. Not least if you have the imagination and drive to actually see it through. Most don’t, but if you actually reach the point where you can say ‘yes’ to both of those questions, that’s when you need to start thinking about the next stage in the process.

Until then, it’s all about actually doing the graft. And you do know it’s hard graft right?


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Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information can be found at

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One thought on “So you want to write a book?”

  1. Can I reiterate Dougie’s words in that the whole process is a ‘journey,’ which for me took me through writing, writing, writing to eventually securing a literary agent – and parting company amicably a year or two later through Print on Demand (trust me, you don’t want to hear my war stories) to self-publication and a column of my own in a New York newsletter.

    However, that’s only first base, as the Americans would say.

    A self-published author – and I realise that Dougie isn’t, for the most part, self-published – has to wear many hats, not least of which is a marketing hat. You have to be able to promote your book. It kind of goes something like this; write the book, create the cover, tweet the tweet, set up promotions, polish the blurb, write the blog, and decide on formatting, keywords, blogging, price and which writing/author groups to join.

    You see, writing is a solitary exercise. You can’t do it in the pub, although that’s a great place to start. Get yourself a double scotch, sit yourself down and write a story right there and then about the first person who comes through the door. “Write drunk, edit sober,” said Ernest Hemingway.

    But for the most part you sit in the quiet of your study and over a period of months churn out your masterpiece. You’ve got your target audience in mind and you’re well aware that when you do finally lift your head above the parapet someone’s going to throw rocks at it. That’s life and no matter who you are not everyone’s going to appreciate your story.

    However, for the moment you’re safe in your study, writing a book that will change the world and you just can’t wait until rival groups of publishers are breaking your door down trying to get you to sign a contract. But once you’ve gone through all the steps above you have to put on your marketing hat, and most writers are extremely uncomfortable with this. Even Dougie’s admitted that he’s not comfortable with bigging himself up, but if he hopes to find more work it has to be done.

    Back to my journey, this has taken me about 25 years. I have several books self-published on Amazon and I manage another author who is compelling reading and who I truly believe has the ability to turn her books into a TV series. I think, after all that, I am only just beginning to find my ‘voice’

    If you have the stamina, start writing …. today

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