As I began to realise that my ambitions as a writer were more than just a desire to scribble thoughts and ideas for my own sake, I wondered about the process of one day publishing a book.
Of course, I had to first have a book to publish, so I set about tackling that rather daunting hurdle. However, even while writing my first, and then my second novel, I investigated how to go about getting published in the 'traditional' manner.
The process I discovered seemed almost Byzantine in its complexity.
First, find an agent. This, it appeared, was only possible if you wrote a letter that contained a secret formula or magic spell, which would capture the agent's attention and make them request your full manuscript.
Assuming you have had the most amazing luck and actually landed an agent, he or she will then act on your behalf to place your book with a publisher. Further assuming that your agent is not lazy, incompetent, overworked, or simply disengaged, he/she will make calls, send emails and generally try to get someone from a publishing house to pay attention.
The problem is, there are quite a lot of agents, each with many clients, each with a book to be published, and very few large publishers.
So far, the writer has worked, possibly for years, to produce their wonderful novel, and they may have to wait many more years while an agent does their best on your behalf.
And while it is an achievement to have an agent in the first place, it does not guarantee that your book will be published. There are cases where writer's have left their agents due to the length of time that has elapsed since they signed with them, yet still have no publishing deal.
But, the cream will float to the top, right?
Don't bet on it. Remember, it took ten years for Harry Potter to be picked up by a publisher, and that was something of a fluke.
Clearly, the odds of getting published, even if you are really, REALLY good, are relatively slim.
So, what about self publishing?