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I don't have an English or Writing-related degree in any way. As of right now, I have no degree, but what I mean is that I'm not even pursuing a degree in writing.

How does this hurt my chances? Do publishers tend to ignore writers without related degrees? What can I do to increase my chances if I don't get a degree? Should I be worried?

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Can you clarify? What are your chances to do what exactly? What do want to write? –  Lynn Beighley Jun 24 '11 at 17:52
Oh shoot, I'm sorry! Fixing that up. Thanks a lot, Lynn. I just had a fight on another Stack Exchange site where my question was closed. I had walked away from the computer, came out to find it closed. No one asked me to clarify or elaborate. I appreciate that this site didn't jump to close the question, and instead helped me to refine it. You rock! –  bdrelling Jun 24 '11 at 23:15
Just consider all the crap written by people who do have degrees. You are gonna be fine. –  Shane L Harris Jun 25 '11 at 4:18

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Write something amazing. Make sure an editor looks over it for mistakes. If it's really good, nobody will care if you're a second-grade dropout or have a Ph.D. in teaching underwater basket-weaving to aardvarks.

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Second the notion of getting an editor. That way, someone with an English degree will still get paid and you are closer to being published. –  Joel Shea Jun 24 '11 at 19:07
How much money would it cost to find an editor? I thought a publisher assigns an editor to my book? I'm very crappy with the process... any links on help with this? I know I could google resources, but I'm sure someone here has an awesome resource themselves? –  bdrelling Jun 24 '11 at 23:18
A publisher will have an in-house editor look over your ms, but you will have a better chance of an agent getting your ms to a publisher if an editor has looked over it first. We have freelance editors here on the board, but I don't know how much we're allowed to advertise ourselves. –  Lauren Ipsum Jun 25 '11 at 2:27
You know, I can tell you from bitter experience, a degree in teaching underwater basket weaving to aardvarks is not as useful as it might appear. That's three years of my life I'm never getting back. –  One Monkey Jun 27 '11 at 8:57
You can find people willing to edit your work on places like Craigslist. Like anything on places like Craigslist, makes sure you are careful, ask lots of questions upfront, don't pay for services before they are rendered, and get tested for Hepatitis. –  Joel Shea Jun 29 '11 at 12:09

Do you like to read books? When was the last time you said "Oh My God! This writer is totally cool, but you know what, Im going to put him back on the self, coz, you know, he doesnt have a degree in English?"

Exactly, never.

Just like having a degree in physical education is not required for winning the Olympics, having a degree in English is not required for writing a successful book.

Writing, like sports, is a very practical thing. Sure, you may go for coaching, ask for help on how to improve your weaknesses, but at the end of the day its not your bookish knowledge, but your practical experience that saves the day. So practice a lot.

Finally, looking at this survey:

By far, the two most popular choices were conventions and writers groups, both of which were reported by more than half of our novelists. The least popular choice? The graduate degree in English/Writing.

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Interesting about the survey! That's very cool to see. I saw that link earlier but missed that part, so thank you. Also, my question wasn't, "Will readers still read my books?", but "Will publishers hesitate to publish my work based on my resume?" kind of thing. Thank you for your help though! It fit regardless. :) –  bdrelling Jun 24 '11 at 23:17

No, nobody in the publishing business cares if you have a degree. In fact, in the eyes of some agents and editors, having a degree in a writing-related field might actually be a drawback. It's hard to convince some people that their writing needs work when it has already been validated by a college degree.

Now, I wouldn't say this is a widely-held belief or anything, and in any case, life experience tends to knock any sense of entitlement out of college graduates eventually, but certainly there are plenty of successful writers who do not have any formal training in writing.

Readers tend to buy books without regard for whether the author has an English or journalism degree. This makes publishers tend to care little as well. In the end, your book will be judged by publishers primarily based on whether they think they can sell it and/or whether it is good.

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What makes it a drawback? –  Lynn Beighley Jun 24 '11 at 17:51
Edited to expand on that. –  kindall Jun 24 '11 at 18:25
I've heard lately that an MFA in writing is the new gateway for getting published in literary magazines. Is that not true? –  justkt Jun 24 '11 at 18:39
I realized I asked the question, but I would like to input... It might be true for literary magazines, but it seems that kindall was talking about it through novels, from my original question. –  bdrelling Jun 24 '11 at 23:19
Yes, I was assuming you were interested in mainstream commercial publishing, rather than small or literary publishers. Getting an MFA would probably guarantee publication in a journal affiliated with your alma mater. –  kindall Jun 26 '11 at 4:38

keep trying and it will work out! write your best. I don't have an english degree and I am in the process of working with a publisher.

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