How Do I Get Published, Part 1

This is for Jack, who asked me the same question I have been asked many, many times. And, as you will read, I am “guilty” of asking that same question. Nothing wrong with the question. So, here are some of MY answers. Hope this helps.



“I want to write a book. How do I get it published?”

Response from an acquisition editor:

“I have lost track how many times I am asked this question on a weekly basis. It is very difficult for me to keep my eyes from glazing over during the ensuing conversation, mostly one sided while the person tries to tell me why they want to write a book, usually about their life, and then proceeds to tell me about their life.

Let me be honest. It’s not that I’m not interested in the other person. I am a people person and I love to hear life stories. It’s just the context of the conversation in a setting of a desire to write a book. Let me be clear. If you want to write a book, then WRITE! Save the storytelling for the book! I’m not trying to be nasty, it’s just we only have so much time in this world and some of those hour long monologues represent an hour of my life I will never get back.”

That sounds pretty arrogant, doesn’t it? These thoughts come not necessarily from me, but from the person I asked that question to. He was a chief acquisition editor for a major publisher and I did indeed make his eyes glaze over. Fortunately, I had enough self awareness to realize what I was doing to this poor man. But, in my defense, it was his day job!

Now, I get that question a lot. I try my best to be patient and not give in to the glazing of the eyes. Most of the time, I succeed but I have learned a great deal about the best way to answer that set of questions. So, to save myself some time and effort, I have written down some thoughts for those who would like to write a book and get published.


First, write it down! Don’t go around telling people you want to write a book and then proceed to tell your story in often disjointed and non-contextual detail. What you must do is become an effective and engaging storyteller. Most people I meet who want to write a book are already good storytellers. Their desire to tell a good story often inspires them to write it all down in book format.

However, the second thing one must do is to WRITE! I know I said that was the first thing but it is also the second and third thing you do. Sit down and write! The format of writing is up to you. I wouldn’t try and write a book long hand although I know people who have started that way. If you want to be published, your book MUST be in digital format so that means writing your book in a word processor format. This may seem a “duh!” Moment but this is absolutely essential. I once judged a writing contest and a contestant submitted 142 hand written pages on yellow legal pad in spite of the rules specifically stating all submissions had to be Word format. 

The biggest problem is writing in any word processor is the skill of typing on a keyboard. Essential! If you want to be a published author, learn how to type. There are several good programs available to teach you to type. Trust me. Trying to write over 60,000 words (the minimal length of a novel) with the hunt and peck method will take you forever!

Once you have decided to sit down and write your story, the fourth thing to keep in mind is to set aside a time and place for doing that and nothing else. This will mean getting your significant “others” on the same page to understand you are writing a book. Some writers set a goal of writing a certain number of words per day; others set aside specific length of time to write. Whatever goal you choose, DO IT! Don’t sit down at the computer and surf the internet or check your email or play one more round of solitaire just to “clear the mind”. Start writing and bleed all over the page to meet your specified goal. The biggest enemy of completing a book is not planning your time wisely. You don’t FIND time to write, you MAKE time to write.

Once you have begun the process of writing you are now a WRITER. You might even become an AUTHOR. But, if you want to PUBLISHED, you must move to the next level. What is that?

Before we go to the next step, let me tell you a story. I attended a conference in Orlando, Florida featuring a man by the name of Jay Strack. The conference was entitled, “Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned in Orlando, Florida”. A very long title, indeed. The keynote speaker was the well known author on leadership, John Maxwell. On Friday near noon, I had to leave early before the afternoon sessions. My two sisters had accompanied me on the trip and had spent the day at Disney World. I was waiting “backstage” for them to pull up in our car so we could head to the airport and then to home.

You know how sometimes you feel like someone is looking at you? I felt that way and turned and John Maxwell was standing right beside me, studying me with those penetrating eyes. He immediately asked me my name and why I was at the conference. Turns out, he was waiting for his ride to the airport, also. We had a fascinating ten minute conversation and he left me with wisdom that changed my life.

He said there are two kinds of people in this world. The first are “dreamers”, people who wake up in the morning and have this fantastic dream. They bend all their efforts to think about the dream, to begin the process of planning, and getting other people excited about their dream. When they lay down at night to sleep, they are content this dream will become a reality. 

The next day, they wake up with ANOTHER, BETTER dream. Now, they are more excited about this new version of their dream. They sweep away the old dream in place of this new dream. Lather, rinse, repeat. The dreamer is just that, only a dreamer never FINISHES anything. I cannot tell you how many people in my life I have met who fit this category, dreaming the big dream but never finishing anything.

Then John told me the other type of person, that person who makes their dream come true. That person who focuses on one dream, working tirelessly to make it a reality. It’s okay to have more than one dream, but only one dream can be completed at a time. He told me that God gives us a specific dream, an inspiration to join Him in His work and we have an obligation to make that God given dream a reality. Focus on one dream at a time until it is completed!

After that “chance” encounter I thought and prayed about my “dreams” and I came up with this idea. I wrote this down and hang it so I will see it every time I start a new project: “Say NO to the good ideas so you can say YES to the God ideas.” Don’t be a dreamer, be that person who makes their dream come true!


Step 1: Write

Step 2: Write some more

Step 3: No, really sit down and write!

Step 4: You don’t find time to write, you MAKE time to write in a specific place and with a specific plan.

Step 5: Don’t be a DREAMER. Make your DREAM come true. Focus on one thing at time and FINISH that one thing before moving on to another “dream”.

Step 6: Learn the skills of writing by becoming a good editor (next section)

About Bruce Hennigan

Published novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.

Posted on December 17, 2021, in Steel Chronicles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on How Do I Get Published, Part 1.

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