Goodreads asked Richard Cox:

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Richard Cox First, define your goals. What are you hoping to achieve? Do you want to write stories for yourself? For your friends to read? Do you want to publish them yourself or be paid an advance and royalties in the traditional manner?

All of the above, save the last one, are under your control. You can write whatever you want at whatever frequency you like and at whatever level of quality you can achieve and no one can prove you're doing anything wrong. But even as the publishing marketplace continues to evolve, most aspiring authors still hope to land an agent who will sell their project (in this example, a novel) to a publisher in the traditional manner. To achieve that goal you must navigate the often confusing and seemingly heartless world of publishing. You'll have to find an agent that believes in your work and who possesses the connections to get it sold. And pretty much the only way to do those things successfully, unless you're a famous person, is to become a very, very good writer. I'm talking top 1% of everyone who has written a novel all the way through to the end. Or even higher.

How do you become that good? First, by reading everything you can, both in your chosen style or genre and out of it. By pounding out stories or novels and being hypercritical of your own work. By sharing your work with others, especially other writers, and listening to their criticism. In my experience, the only authors who "make it" are those who want to achieve publishing success more than they want to protect their own ego. If you bristle at criticism, if you think people don't "get" your work, there's a good chance you'll never land a traditional publishing contract. There's simply too much competition out there to be lazy or overly protective of your own work.

That being said, there are writers who have been rejected by traditional publishers, or who have not enjoyed their relationships with publishers, who successfully publish and market their work themselves. Certainly you will have much more control over your product if you take that route.

So ask yourself what you really want out of writing and then take the appropriate steps. If you want it bad enough, you can probably do it.

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