How NOT to become a published author

There are many useful books and posts to help you get your completed manuscript published, but if you’re bound and determined NOT to become a published author, avoid them like the plague. Instead, here are 10 quick and easy tips to help you remain safely unpublished.

Tip #1: Resist joining any critique groups, SCBWI-affiliated or otherwise. After all, it’s best to write in a vacuum if you wish to remain unpublished.

Tip #2: If you can’t resist, go ahead and join critique groups but ignore everything people tell you…especially when multiple individuals offer you the same unwelcome guidance.

Tip#3: Walk around with blinders on or bury your head in the sand. Make a conscious effort NOT to observe anything about the world around you.

Tip#4: Don’t waste your time and money attending conferences or workshops, in person or virtual. What’s the purpose of honing your craft if you seek NOT to become a published author? Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of purchasing, reading, and learning from craft books!

Tip#5: Make a conscious effort NOT to format your manuscript to industry standards. Give yourself permission to try a wild and crazy font or a font size you can easily read without your glasses. And by all means, don’t set your margins! Then scrap your complete manuscript without making a backup or emailing yourself a copy.

(From How Not to Format a Manuscript by Marianne Knowles)

Tip#6: Don’t submit to editors or agents. Or if you can’t control yourself, make sure you ignore all publisher and agent requirements and and print your manuscript on brightly colored, perfume-scented paper.

We accept only digital submissions for all manuscripts, including author/illustrator book dummies.
Please do not mail a submission to us. 

Tip#7: Absolutely don’t waste time reviewing editor and agent wish lists. At the very least, make sure you don’t sent any manuscript that fits a particular editor or agent’s list.

Tip #8: If you derive a perverse enjoyment from writing query letters, go ahead and mention how much your dog loves your story and reveal your deepest, darkest secrets. Absolutely don’t mention your SCBWI affiliation or any previously published work but do include lots of embarrassing personal photos. And by all means, don’t provide a snappy and memorable summary of your story. If all else fails, give your manuscript an offensive title and compare yourself to the greatest writers of all time.

Tip#9: Resist becoming friends with other writers and don’t support them in any way. If you do, you might be sucked into critique groups and writer/illustrator conferences against your will, and you run the risk that they may support you in return. As a fail-safe, cancel all your social networking accounts and your cell phone account.

(Author Rajani LaRocca and friends from her MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM launch. Image found in my Interview with Rajani LaRocca re: SEVEN GOLDEN RINGS, a delightful picture book blending music and math)

Tip#10: Don’t carve out any time to read or write. Either activity may fill you with the urge to become a published author.

I hope you enjoyed my quick and easy tips on how NOT to become a published author. If you have more tips to share, by all means, please leave a comment! Or if despite reading this, you still persist in the desire to become a published author, ask yourself if you can identify with any of the behaviors described above. I readily admit that Tip #6 is my personal failsafe, although allergies prevent me from using scented paper!


    1. Karen, I’m sorry to tell you that if you read this post and (gasp!) commented, your carefully laid plan to remain safely unpublished is crumbling!


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