Is a book right for your message? guest post by @ajbarnett

Why Write A Book?

a guest post by  AJ Barnett

without reproach by AJ Barnett

Purchase Without Reproach

“Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast.”

– Logan Pearsall Smith –

Message, What Message

So you have a story deep inside, and its bubbling to get out. You simply must put it across to people. You are passionate about it. You’re convinced there’s an audience waiting to read it, and you’re intent on writing a book

Wait! Is a book really the right vehicle for your message?

 Other Mediums

Will another medium be more suitable for your idea? Have you considered writing it as a short story, or an article? Or will it be better suited to a television documentary or radio play? Okay, I realise a book can serve as a prelude to one of these, but sometimes it’s better to aim for a different medium right from the outset, rather than try to wedge your grand idea into a book.

Why write a book? A book embraces between 50,000 and 250,000 words – a lot of time and effort. Not everyone can cope with writing so much on a subject – especially if they have no previous experience. The inspiration you believe will make a novel might actually only furnish sufficient words for a short story.

 In The Swim

There’s little to be said for embarking on a writing career with a 100,000 word book as a first project. It’s rather like swimming the English Channel when you’ve never dipped your toes in water. Sometimes it’s prudent to start with lesser undertakings. Small assignments allow you to acquire a feel for words and how to handle them before embarking on a larger project. Why not learn to swim a length before swimming a mile?

Okay, so a few paragraphs in a local church magazine might not sound impressive – but you’ll finish it faster, and you’re more likely to get it published than a full length book. It will certainly be in print quicker than a book would. Writing a short piece of work will give you most of the stimulus and satisfaction of writing a long one – and you will finish it quicker and lose less, if your work isn’t accepted. So, why write a book at such an early stage in your writing life?

If you later decide to move on to larger projects, you’ll be furnished with evidence of your published material. Publishers prefer publishable writers.

 Speculate to Accumulate.

College lecturers and researchers, accumulate status by publishing articles in academic journals. Poets work in much the same way. It’s unusual for poets to launch into publication in book form. Most poets begin by introducing poems in magazines and suchlike, and move onto anthologies before progressing to their own collections.

Do be circumspect and ask yourself why you want to write a book. Ask yourself whether you’re ready to write and sell a book, or whether you’d improve your chances by gaining experience, understanding, and respect, by writing on a smaller scale.

Read more posts from AJ Barnett on Tell Me A Story



Jenny is not related to Spanish artist, Juan Garcia. She has never heard of him, never met him, and certainly never been there before… So why does she vaguely recognize some of the rooms and smells?

It freaks her out when Juan bequeaths her the enormous villa in his Last Will and Testament… Especially when there is a painting of her in the entrance … and she is totally naked…

Without Reproach is romantic suspense, available from Amazon Kindle $2.99


Aside from Thea: I wrote a post about my motivation for one of my novels here. Feel free to check it out.


Thea Atkinson is a writer of character driven fiction.

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3 comments on “Is a book right for your message? guest post by @ajbarnett
  1. Viv says:

    I once read a comment from a publisher, to the effect that writing a book when no one has asked you to is like having a baby without thought of how you will support it. Given the events in the intervening years since I read this (it was in the Writers’ and Artists’ yearbook) I can now see that were the world run by publishers, we’d have cracked the over-population problem decades ago and we’d be running out of people by now.
    For me, a story (complete with the whys of that story) come bubbling up without any of that thought of message. It just is, whether I like it or not. I tell the story, and then find the message I was subconsciously concealing in it.

    • interesting! I’d never heard that one before. In the nonfic article writing world for glossies and trade mags, it makes perfect sense, but to a novelist….who could convince them otherwise? I like that you kept on despite that discouraging message.

  2. Great post, AJ.

    I started out in journalism, TV and theatre, so a less usual route to end up a novelist, but I concur fully with what you say here.

    While no-one should be under any illusion that writing a good short story is an easy option, it is the best way to get started, learn the fundamentals of story-telling and establish an audience / market for work under your name.

    If you’re lucky enough to start a short story that needs to be made longer to work, and ends up novel length, that’s a bonus. But trying to stretch an idea for short story into a novel by padding out unnecessarily is a sure-fire road to failure.

    The great thing now is that middling length novellas (30,000-50,000 words), which traditionally did not sell, can do well as e-books, as can short-story anthologies.

    Opportunities for new writers abound as publishing moves to digital. But always make sure, regardless of length, whatever you publish is as near perfect as you can get it before you put it before the readers.

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All Thea's novels are available on Kindle, Nook, Sony, and Kobo

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