The Hard Truth on Writing with SJ Garland


Welcome to my inaugural writing forum on all subjects involving writing, editing, re-editing, being an author and the publishing industry.

I called it hard truths, not because I think anyone is under any illusions about how hard it is to be an author, but that sometimes we can get swept away with the romance of the occupation while looking at dreamy posts on social media of perfectly coiffed and manicured authors gushing about their latest release and how we should all go out and buy it.

That's what being an author is all about, right?

Typing a few words here and then posting how amazing your word count is going for the day.

Just no.

I'm going to give you some hard truths about writing, being an author and the road to getting your manuscript published that in your heart of hearts you already know, but you need Aunty Garland to remind you.

1st Hard Truth: You're probably not going to make any money.

"Wait Aunty!" You're going to say. "I see people getting big fat publishing contracts ALL THE TIME!"

Really? I find that hard to believe. Over, 2.2 million books get published each year worldwide according to the Forbes business bible. Over half of them are self-published, which means they couldn’t get publishing contracts at all and most of those books will only ever sell 250 copies in their lifetime.

“But there are still half a million books being published traditionally!” You point out.

I’d have a look at how much the first average book deal is worth. (don’t include the celebrities with big social media following, unless you are one. In which case, why are you here and do you want to endorse my latest release?) Publishers don’t hand out fat wads of cash to everyone, and the expectations for getting a second release can be very high.

2nd Hard Truth: Not everyone is going to like your work.

There. I’ve said it. Ripped the band aid right off, taking all your arm hair and some skin with it.

This is probably one of the most obvious, but hardest truths to get to grips with as an author. Don’t bother with the one or two people who might write a bad review about your work. Maybe they had indigestion that day or their SO broke up with them. Drop them like yesterday’s meatloaf and concentrate on the folks who dig your vibe.

Not everyone likes bestsellers, but they are bestsellers. I read the MOST SCATHING review ever of Dan Brown’s Inferno when it was first published and wondered if Brown had run over the critic’s dog or something. I myself found the book long and meandering, but I was moving countries at the time and had zero patience for anything. So, there you have it. Read the bad review, take something, leave something, but don’t internalise it. I’ve given you this advice as a reminder to myself too!

3rd Hard Truth: Every author’s journey is unique.

So, if you’re sitting in a café for hours at a time pounding your word count out like JK Rowling. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to have the same success as her. But, good for you for sitting down and getting your word count done. That is the hardest part about writing a book. Actually, getting started, but I’ll discuss that later.

The reality is you might knock one out of the park on your very first trip to the plate. Or you’ll be like the rest of us and have to hold the faith that one day your book will come in and you’ll feel that success you imagined at the very start of your journey.

Either way, the key is to not give up. Even when people like me right now are telling you the odds are certainly not in your favour. You won’t know the outcome unless you’ve got some skin in the game. So, that brings me to next week’s Hard Truths on Writing with SJ Garland, I’ve got an idea to write a book, it’s going to be a bestseller, all those who read it will worship meeeeee! But I don’t know where to start.

I’m here to help you with a few hints.

Join me next Monday and if you liked these hard truths share this post, tell me about your hard truths or just like the crap out of it.


SJ Garland