Friday, December 12, 2014



You’ve heard all the suggestions and read book after book on the art of writing. Some say it’s just a bunch of words, and it’s no big deal.

Well, they are wrong, and it is a big deal. It’s a huge deal, but you need all the press you can muster up.

But, what if you can’t afford that PR?

What if you are just getting started? You’re a housewife or a dad with two jobs and a dream. You write in your spare time and hope someone finds it. How do they find you if you have no money for promotion?

It strikes my funny bone when I hear someone say you must have a great cover for your book AND - have your book professionally edited. You must hire a promotional company to assist you. Plan a party and invite all the right people, oh, and you can invite some friends too. Cater the party, so you look professional. Have flyers printed and hand them out. Notify local bookstores and create a book-signing event. Send copies of your book to important reviewers. Then, in your spare time give the book away free so others will appreciate your work.


You just spent a lot of money you don’t have.

Remember, you are broke? You have two jobs to pay the rent and feed the family. There is no extra money in the wallet. All you have is the writer’s dream and your beloved manuscript or screenplay.

Okay, forget that other stuff, it’s too expensive and unaffordable. It’s out of your reach. The writer books say write a great query and send it to agents along with a sample of the work. What the book doesn’t tell you is agents are busy people. Agents are busy selling their client list to publishers, so most have no time to look for a new writer. If they are open to receive a query it better be good, short and to the point.

The writer books say this is the way. They don’t tell you only one in a thousand can write a great query. Few get a query to the right agent at the right time. The writer hopes the agent  is looking for a new client with the exact subject matter of your work. Give yourself some credit, those are not great odds.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to land an agent. I’m saying to be patient. It takes time, perhaps lots of time. But what if you don’t have all that time on your hands?


Do you give up because there are too many hurdles? NO, and you are never to give up the dream. Quitting isn’t the answer.

Most writers begin their careers on a shoestring, broke and not able to do any of the above suggestions. Half of those didn’t buy the writer's books either. They found them in a library or peeked at the pages in a bookstore. You are not alone.

There are no secrets to writing a great work albeit a novel or screenplay. You can have years of success and still find it difficult to find an audience for the next one. It’s up to you to find ways to slip through the cracks with an agent, publisher or doing it via self-publishing.

When you go to the movies or watch a great one on TV what is the first thing you notice? What grabs you holds you and keeps you until the last frame? That’s what makes a good book or movie, the hook, the sell, the beginning of something wonderful? How do you find them? Where are they and how do you get them to use?

The answer is every great story, and the idea is right in front of your nose. You just have to look and think about it. Is the genre important? It is, but not how you think. It’s important if you know a lot about the subject.

Let’s say you are a cop. What do you know best? Probably crime or police procedures. Use these as a gift, and you will be surprised to discover an endless supply of stories. You will find one compelling enough to write about, and then maybe dozens will follow.

Regardless of the occupation you come from or are in, you will learn a subject can build from any theme or genre. Again, it isn’t the genre that makes great work – it’s the writer who knows the genre well enough to write about it. If you can tell a good story, I strongly believe you can write one.

Like sitting around the campfire telling scary tales. If they are great, all eyes are upon you. If you try to convince others you know about something, you know nothing about – they will know.


Does that mean you can’t write about a genre where you know nothing? NO. You have to do substantial research, and if you are good at it, you will find a way to write it.

Approaching an agent is tough. Not impossible, just crazy difficult. Some can write a great query and not a great book while others fail at a compelling query and have written a sensational book. It’s potluck finding an agent who likes your voice. I suggest while you look for the agent you also explore other ways to market and sell you work.

Money helps buy things but if you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it. That  means you do it yourself, and yes it can be easily accomplished. You can use your photos to create a super book cover. You can write a short synopsis about your work – short meaning one little paragraph. You may have to re-write it fifty times before it feels right, but it will be worth it.

You can self publish with Amazon and CreateSpace and do it yourself with a little research. You can learn how to put the book into book form and how to create a format for Amazon and the best part all this information is free and available to you.


Build a list of people who might consider looking at your book. If you promote other unknown or new writers, they will return the favor. Social media are great and free. Blogs are free as are Tweets and Facebook releases. Look for free things and you will find many are free and so are sending emails requesting help. Don’t hold back anything. If it takes more time to get it done, give it.

At the end of the day, you will have a book, education, and enormous growth for your future works.

What if the book isn’t good or has too many errors?  That’s ok too. We would all love to be perfect, write the perfect novel or screenplay and have a hit on our hands. We can dream, or we can do. Doing is fun and the only way to learn how is to improve. There is a handful of writers who hit it right away, but most don’t. It’s ok. You’re in good company.

I’ve read dozens of books with lots of grammar errors and misspelled words. The best part is if the story is great all the mistakes in the world won't spoil it for the reader. If the reader loves, the genre you write your book in you will find many who appreciate it. The only way to improve is to continue to write. The more books you complete, the better they become. I read and write every day. I post reviews on books I’ve read and try my best to promote other writers whenever I can. We are a small group numbering in the thousands and if we learn to help one another – half our battle has been won.

Love the word and share as many of them as you can put together.

William Byron Hillman © 2014

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Just released:
HOAX – Prematurely Terminated a thriller

Book Links:
Dream Searcher
Let's Sue ‘Em
Veronique and Murray:
Zebra's Rock and Me
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I:
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II
Bad Rap:
Hoax – Prematurely Terminated
In editor’s hands - Looting


My next planned film is:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)