Can You Teach Yourself to Write a Best Seller?

You can spend a fortune learning how to write great prose. And another fortune to learn the ins and out of the publishing industry. Writing well isn’t something everyone can do. Not only that but there are so many different paths you can take to get published, to promote your self, story’s you can write and ways you can tell a story. I might not have written a New York Times best seller but I’d like to give you a look at a storytellers path to publication while looking at how to save the most money or what the most expensive option would be.


Writing Well:



If you were looking to spend the greatest possible amount on learning how to write, 

could I suggest a college degree? This option is good if you don’t have the determination 

or drive to learn on your own, or if you’re the type of person who will never sit down to start writing. If you can afford a life with student debt you will definitely learn a lot. There are many intricacies to wordplay that only masters of the language can teach you as well as many wonderful books you really should read that are too boring to actually be interested in. Aside from the debt, some teachers can actually scare you away from writing, making it sound harder or (in the case of your own writing) worse than it reallyis.



Once upon a time, I read every book in my school library about writing, then all the ones in the public library. I planned when to use the free trials of courses like and others so that I could take the maximum about of courses in the one free month. I watched hundreds of hours of youtube videos of talks, speeches, and editors talking about writing. I volunteered at many a convention to hear the last half of a panel or network with outer writers in the area. I found mentors by joining clubs and online forms.

But I had plenty of time on my hands and a superabsorbent teen mind. Now that I work full time, have a social life, and need free time as well as time to cook, eat, clean and write, I’d find all that very hard to do again.


The Middle Path.

Reading the books you have access too and putting on youtube corses in the background can’t hurt but I’ve found Community courses are the way to go. If you know and like the teacher, they can teach you things you didn’t pick up while reading. Mentors can assess your work and tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are. You’ll also learn a lot about your own writing style when you compare with others. You could also try auditing a college class if you have a bit more time on your hands.




Hiring an editor/ story coach can make a world of difference in your novel. A second set of eyes to look over your word choice, sentence structure, and plot, not only will improve your manuscript to an infinite degree. Moreover, they’ll soothe your mind, having a professional tell you that ‘yes that makes perfect sense’  or ‘that was a really great plot twist’ will help you know what you do well and give you confidence that your work is ready to be put into the world. But paying someone by the word adds up quickly for new novel writers. It can also be hard to tell who would be right to edit your work. Some people suggest using multiple editors who specialize in different things thus the reason behind having a story coach.



Sure there are a lot of books on writing well, but have you tried to find one on editing. There are only a few worthwhile editing books and they both end up being just as much about writing as anything else. I found blog posts are the clearest on outlining how to tackle your novel. But there will always something that you think are normal that simply aren’t. As well as words and sentences that you glossed over and forgot to tweak.

The Middle Path:

Beta readers are the potential readers of your work. Getting it straight from the source can tell you more acutely and definitively what stands out in your work, good or bad. Often times it’s free or can be done in exchange for reading their work. You can get multiple sets of eyes on it though some people will never fully finish or get back to you, and others could take years to complete it. But when you find the right person, you’ll create a buzz and can even give your book a little boost right out of the gate. 



Self-publishing gives you great control over every aspect of your work from the words to the title, cover, marketing strategy, and platforms its put on. But it can take a lot of time unless you happen to already know a fair bit about graphic design, marketing, copy wiring, and other random pieces. Most self-publishers can’t commit money of their own and end up with slightly off covers (or worse, pollute the world with more awful writing and continue to give self-publishing a bad name). But if you love to learn and want to really take control of your work you could probably do it for relatively cheap.james-tarbotton-gm18kqu9TxQ-unsplash.jpg

Free (or better; paid)

Ah, the elusive book contract. Long for by so many. I’m not like a lot of writers who will sit there and tell you how hard it is to get traditionally published. (Fair enough, I’m not but have received multiple personal response letters that indicated that I’m very much on the right path). But it really is the best option. If you can get through writing your query letter and sitting on your hands for 3-6 months for a response then you might find more fulfillment then most writers. Or else you’ll be sent into a downward spiral of depression… but it’s probably worth it.

Middle Ground

You may think there’s no middle ground to this but you can, in fact, do a little of both. Self-publishing a few stories can prove to a publisher that you’re committed, that your writing sells well, or otherwise that you are trustworthy. You’ll get a really clear view of all the steps it takes to publish something and it can make your next run a lot easier. You may start thinking of a stories query before you even begin writing it or add specific elements to a book based on what would make an aesthetic cover. Overall it’s been a great learning experience for me.

That’s right, I’m finally about to put my work out there. If you’re interested in what I write about, or if you just want an insight into my type of writing then check this out. Say up to date on what I’m doing and get my best advice all wrapped up in a whimsical little writing called ‘Out There’

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