Being a professional writer is something so many people dream of but few people achieve. One reason for the lack of success experienced by many writers used to be that traditional publishing was just too elite and there were too many hurdles to jump in order to get your book into the hands of a publisher. That has changed.

It will be of no surprise to you to learn that there are hundreds of books claiming to have the answer on how to get published and become the author you always dreamed you’d be. It will also be of no surprise to learn that the authors of these ‘How to Get Published’ books of wisdom never really got much published until they wrote about how to get published. Ironic, right?

If you were to Google ‘What to do if you can’t get published’, you would get up thousands of results for how to get published. There is just nothing there for the flip side; you want to know what to do when you have tried the traditional route of sending three chapters, a stunning synopsis, and a creative cover letter to just about every agent and publishing house in the Writer’s Handbook.

Ask yourself, is it time to be a little more honest with yourself and explore other options while you are waiting to be discovered as the next Rowling or Pratchett? The old saying goes: ‘Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got’, and the sad truth is that if you continue to send out those precious three chapters of your life’s work without taking any other course, your chance of success is about as limited as your chance of getting struck by lightning while buying the winning lottery ticket.

In tough times such as these, publishers are even more unwilling to take a chance on an unknown author, preferring to stick with established writers with a proven history, and even some of these authors are fighting to be published. Publishing is a business, and businesses need to make money.

So you are reading this for the same reason I wrote it: because you need to know what you can do when you can’t get published through the traditional route.

This site is really the result of my journey. I have always been a writer, though professionally I didn’t find a way to start being paid for it until I became a journalist and was taken on as a freelance correspondent for a group of regional newspapers. Writing about local flower shows and pub closures never quite fulfilled the author in me, so I set about trying to find another way to get my first book published.

I should point out that my first book had been ten years in writing and I had approached every publisher and agent I could find; my rejection letters still take up nearly a whole drawer in my desk.

So I seriously started researching eBook publishing and ended up putting my literary masterpiece on Smashwords. Then I waited for the fame and fortune to come to me. It never did. I sold three copies. I gave up and went back to writing about dog shows and school fetes. I also went to university as a mature part-time student studying an English Literature degree; possibly at my age this could be considered an irrelevant qualification, but it has fulfilled the creative need to immerse myself in literature.

I still dabble in self-publishing and I have many fiction and non-fiction books on Amazon under the pseudonym Ruth Newman. I sell a few but it’s slow, and I have learned so much along the way. My goal is to write so much more fiction but at the moment, in order to try and establish myself, I am writing non-fiction and testing the market. I have also resumed my journalistic pursuits as a freelance feature writer, so no more flower shows and school fetes, though no more regular paycheques either. This is the reality of writing ambition.

The two biggest lessons:

  • Keep at it no matter how disheartening it is sometimes.
  • Learn everything you can about marketing. What I learned was that writing your book is only half the story; you then need to market the hell out of it.

Good luck!

Tracey Bisdee

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