Since every literate person can write, most people think they can be writers. Interestingly enough, we all can speak quite well, but few of us would deem ourselves ‘speakers.’ However, this prevalent belief encourages beginners to say the oddest things that make professional writers want to cringe (or preferably strangle them with a thin wire). If you find yourself saying the following, please stop:

1. "I can write a book in a weekend."
I’m certain you can mutilate a couple hundred pages with words; however, that doesn’t mean that anyone will want to read them. Yes, I know there are prolific writers who can write a book in two weeks (Voltaire supposedly wrote Candide in three days). Usually they are professionals who have mastered a style and understand the craft of writing. Have you?

2. "I can write those ‘trashy’ books and make tons of money."
Bwahaha! I love this one.

Many new writers see a 200-page romance or mystery and scoff. These things are so easy, they tell themselves. I can write this in a day. I doubt it, but maybe you can. If you do, will anyone pay you to read it? That is the difference. Those who sell in these genres usually have a passion for the craft that translates onto the page. Hate romance? Think mysteries are ridiculous? Believe sci-fi is for loonies? Then don’t write it, editors and especially readers can tell.

3. "If this crap gets published, I bet I could get a contract in six months."
Define crap. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Don’t be arrogant and think the world should concede to your every taste (that’s what critics are for). Every writer is not meant for every reader. Just because you don’t like a book doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s just not good for you. I don’t like okra; however, that doesn’t mean I need to start an anti-okra campaign. Diversity is what makes life interesting.

Okay, okay you’re not talking about taste. You’re talking about horrible, poorly written books. Yes, I know there are some truly bad books out there. Here’s the hard truth. Some bad books (poor grammar, poor structure and poor execution of a plot simpler than a fairy tale) get published. I have plenty of dents in my wall from an effective toss. However, these books are probably ‘placement’ books to fill a hole in a publishing list. Usually, these books sink and their authors are rarely heard from again.

Unfortunately, the existence of these books convinces people that getting their book published should be a breeze. Sure, and every person with a dream to sing will become the next International Idol. Is it fair? No. Do they care? No.

4. "I can write better than that."
If you can, shut up and write. Nobody wants to hear about it. It’s as annoying as listening to someone explain what they would do if they ruled the world—well you don’t. Next!

5. "I’d write, if I had more time."
You’ll never get more time; steal it. That’s what the rest of us do.

6. "I have the perfect book already written in my head.”
Sure, and I have the secrets to the universe taped to the bottom of my shoe. People who say this remind me of the naked emperor walking down the street trying to convince his kingdom that he’s clothed. You’re fooling no one except yourself and you look ridiculous.

Writing is work. Writers make it look effortless because that’s our job (imagine the disappointment you would feel seeing a dancer straining to leap off the ground).

I encourage anyone with a desire and passion to write fiction to do so. Write with meaning; write with truth and skill. Write because you must, not as a path to riches and stardom. It may come; it may not.

The real writers (beginner and pro) don’t talk about it; they do it. Be one of those.

In one of my past magazine jobs my office was next to that of the book editor. He would get boxes and boxes of books daily. There was a separate room devoted to storing these books, but that still didn't keep them from piling up in his office. Whenever he returned from vacation he practically had to use a bulldozer to get his door open!

You see the problem, right? How do you get your book noticed, let alone reviewed, when it is just one among stacks of books in an editor's office? Here are a few tips to help you map out a winning strategy.

1. Determine which magazines are the best for reaching your target market.

As you plan to market your book, decide first who your ideal reader is. Is it a 35-year-old urban professional man? Is it a stay-at-home mom who lives in the Midwest? Is it female college graduates who also happen to be sports fanatics? Once you decide who you're targeting, ask yourself: What magazines does my ideal reader read? Those will be the magazines you'll focus on. That way, you won't waste time and money pursuing dozens of magazines which, even if they did review your book, wouldn't give you much in terms of gaining readership. With my novel we focused on magazines with large female audiences. Ideally you should be doing this a few months before your book comes out because the goal here is to either write a story for the magazine or get interviewed in the magazine, and have the article appear before or just as your book is published.

2. Find out what the editors need.

When you have chosen the magazines, buy them and read them. Do they have a certain writing style? What kinds of articles appear in the magazine again and again? If you can, write, email or call the features editor and find out what kinds of stories the magazine is looking for. You'll have more success if you can fill the editorial holes the magazine is already working on.

3. Let an editor know what you have to offer.

Start sending query letters to get article assignments. If you have a particular expertise, you can let an editor know that you're available for interviews if they ever need an expert on a particular subject. Often an editor will assign a story to a writer and give them a few possible interviewees to help them get started. I contacted editors at Essence a full year before my book came out to let them know that I was working as a personal and career coach. Within a few weeks I began getting calls from reporters to interview me for working mom stories for Essence.

4. Mention your book or get it mentioned.

When your article gets published, make sure you get the little italicized blurb at the end that says that you are "a writer whose next book, The Best Book in the World, will be published this month by Big Press, Inc." You get the idea. If you are being interviewed for an article, chances are they won't have room to mention your book but you should still tell the reporter about it anyway. You can even ask them to put it in their notes. As the story gets discussed in meetings, someone might say "Did you know she also wrote a book?" This builds awareness.

5. Check in with your contacts, but don't pester them.

Once your book is sent out for review, you can call or email to make sure that the editor got the book, but leave it at that. You've done all you can. I've never met the book editor at Essence, but when I heard that he was aware of my novel I was totally psyched. I kept my fingers crossed after that. You can see the review here. One last note: Some magazines and newspapers don't review self published books. Find out beforehand so you can make your efforts elsewhere if that's necessary.