“I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.” –Cormac McCarthy

I came across this quotation the other day and had to laugh. I also realized it spoke to something very important for people who would be authors.

There is a business side to writing and publishing: making sure you write something people will want to read; getting agents and publishers to take the book on; getting readers to buy the book when it is published; getting the word out about the book; managed the money aspects of being a writer.

I cover all this stuff in my live and online courses on writing and publishing.

There are two faces to writing:
1. Your raw energy and writing abilities;
2. Your ability to get the book into the world and have it support your writing.

Some people are better at one than the other, but you must attend to and master both to get the book written and published.


As usual, I invite you to learn more by visiting:

I started out clueless in both Writing-Land and Publishing-Land. I only succeeded at writing and publishing 29 books (my next one, A Guide to Trance-Land, comes out from W.W. Norton next year) because I had such unstoppable passion for getting my ideas and work out into the world to contribute to others.

But I quickly discovered that one gets passive income from books, if they do well enough. Most of mine are still in print and it is so cool to get checks every six months from my publishers. I never know how much they will be for, since sales are variable, and I never count on this money as income, so it is always a pleasant surprise.

I’ve discovered that most people are a bit stymied by the writing and especially by the publishing process, so I have created an online Book Writing and Publishing Course. The course tells you where to start (never write your non-fiction book before you sell it; but always write much, if not all, of your fiction book before you sell it), how to get yourself to write (Did you know you could write a book in five-minute chunks and it would take you less than a year to get it done?), how to get an agent (I’ll tell you how I got one in one day!), and how to make it likely your book will sell to a publisher and to readers.

You can take the Book Writing and Publishing Course at your own rate and pace, when it convenient, from anywhere you have online access. I wish I had had this course when I started. I would have made many thousands more dollars, had even more books published and written, and avoided myself costly errors. It’s a bit like having a friend in the publishing industry.

If you want to see a book with your name on it and want to set up ongoing sources of passive and residual income, visit:

While I was at BEA (Book Expo America, the big author/publisher confab) in LA recently, I met a guy from Germany (Gunnar Siewert) who is part of a cool new website for authors called BookRix ( You can use this site (free) to create an online book or article and invite others to view it like a real book, but with enhancements. If you want to develop a following or put a sample of your book on the web to gauge interest, this is a nice resource. It’s sort of a social networking site for authors.

My email is stacking up on the flight deck again. I get hundreds of emails per week. Some percentage of those emails, as I have become more well known, are from supplicants asking me to help them get published. They want me to read their manuscript, give them a blurb, recommend an agent or editor, pass their book along to my agent or editor, collaborate with them on their great book idea, and so on.

I am a kind and generous person, but sometimes I get a little put off by these requests. First, because as one gets even a little well known (and I know I am not that well known at all-I can’t imagine how much more pressed really well known people are with these requests), the number of them increases. Many people are looking for a leg up and you look to be a person who can give them that boost. But if I responded to each of these requests, I would not have much time to get my writing done or to have a life outside of my work.

Second, there is often an off-putting insensitivity in these requests. Some people acknowledge that I must be busy and that if I can’t find my way to help or I am too busy, they will understand perfectly. But others seem to assume I will be happy to take the time to both read their requests and to help them no matter the time it takes or the burden of the request (my agent would be very unhappy if I referred everyone who asked me to to her). These people occasionally express resentment when I do not provide whatever help they expected.

I have had one person seriously request that I read their dissertation in German and tell them if they missed any references to a particular subject I had some expertise on. I have had others ask me to essentially write their class papers on my area of expertise.

Besides not assuming that the person you make a request of will comply, I have a simple suggestion that may serve you well in life. If you want something from someone, give them something of value first, whether it be a compliment, a kindness or some useful information. Establish a relationship.

I have a correspondent who, noticing I like quotations, regularly sends me interesting quotations. I always take the time to read her emails. If she asked me for a favor, I would likely do it because has built up some credit with me (although I wouldn’t read her dissertation in German).

End of rant.

“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” Peter De Vries

If I had waited to write until I was inspired, I would have far fewer books written. I decided to work and wait for inspiration to show up while I was working. Writing, and any creative act, is a funny thing. You are not always inspired and you can’t directly control inspiration. But I find that when I work hard at the craft of writing, the art becomes easier. I am more confident that because I have pulled it off before (that is, completed a book and gotten it published) that I can do it again. And that seems to prime the pump of creativity so that I come up with ideas for books quite regularly. Most working writers I know have more ideas than they have time to write in a lifetime.

So, start working at writing and maybe the Muse will deign to visit you when you are at the writing desk or your computer or the coffee shop or the kitchen table or wherever you write. Once she knows where and when you’ll be there, especially if you develop regular habits, she is more likely to know where to find you.