anyone can get published
You will soon see I am a lousy writer; but I’ve sold over a half a million dollars worth of books. After the publication of my second book by the world’s largest publisher, I took—and failed, a test at the end of the first chapter of a grade school English book. I’m such a bad writer that by the time you are reading this article, there is a good chance that has been rewritten, edited, and doctored repeatedly by my friends, my neighbors, my gardener, and a professional editor or two.
I grew up in Missouri in the ‘60s; my whole family is from the Ozarks. I’m talking hillbilly, real hillbillies, with the pigs, cows, bad teeth, stupid accents, and a basic pervasive inherited dumbness. In 1965, my grandfather was still signing his name with an X. In the past 54 years (my whole life) I’ve never seen my parents read anything except for the TV Guide. As a teenager I used to get in to arguments with my dad because he wanting me drop out of high school and work in a factory. I was seventeen before I read a book cover to cover. Reading was very difficult for me because the hillbilly language that I spoke was nothing like the printed word.
To keep up with the rest of my class, (and to keep from flunking) I learned to skip over punctuation, along with any words that I didn’t know. I skipped entire chapters when I was really behind. I never flunked a class because I faked it well. Being smart (even if under educated) has its perks. Some children fall through the cracks, I was always dangling over an abyss. As far back as we can trace our family history, my sister and I are the only Barnetts to graduate from high school.
In the 80’s I became a mediator, mostly working with couples on relationship issues. Often, after a successful session my clients would ask me for communication tips. I would tell them what I learned and they would do their best to remember or write down my little pearls of wisdom. Eventually, so many of my clients had asked for my advice I decided to put the main tips on a sheet of paper. One page turned in to two, which grew into chapters and finally a small booklet. However, no one could understand what I had so painstakingly written in Ozarkian vernacular, so I had to give it to my housemate to edit. Next, I took her version to my neighbor, then that version my friends. Finally, when I ran out of masochistic friends and after ten people had rewritten (essentially writing) my book, I sent it to six publishers. I knew nothing about query letters, SASEs, proposals, outlines, or even business letters, I just sent them my little pamphlet and four publishers made me an offer. I accepted a $17,000.00 advance. The sequel was published two years later after eight editors had suffered through it.
To date, people I have sold over 75,000 books. I have been published in several national magazines and newspapers; and I’m a former columnist. I have lectured from coast to coast; and I’m a frequent guest speaker on natural radio and television. I just finished my forth book which is over 54,000 words; but I still rely heavily on editors, rewriters, and unsuspecting new friends. Under threat of disownment, my friends have begged me not to send them anything I write; thankfully, it’s easy for me to make new friends.
If I can be published, anyone can; you just have to be naive enough to assume you can too.
Causes Doyle Barnett Supports
Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center,
Community Mediation Program of Santa Barbara County