This is not so much a FAQ about this site as much as it is a FAQ about writing. After all, the site is not really about me, it's about you. You want to write and I want to help you. So sit down, shut up, and learn something.
Can I be a writer?
Of course not. It's impossible. And if those last two sentences make you want to quit, you are screwed. After all, if you were looking to do the merely possible, you'd be learning how to become a plumber, not trying to get your work published.
If you want to become a writer, you are going to have to deal with rejection. A lot of rejection. Unless you happen to already be very good at convincing people to do things they do not want to do, such as publish your novel, you will have a tough row to hoe. However, if you can keep trying until you either get published or find someone in the business to give you a helping hand, you are on your way.
How do I write a novel?
The same way you write your name -- one word at a time.
There is an anecdote about the famed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that is very instructive in this situation. According to the story, Mozart was approached by an ambitious young man who wanted to pick the composer's brain about writing music. Thus, he asked, "How do I write symphonies?"
Mozart, upon being asked this question, informed the aspiring composer that a young man such as he would be better off writing ballads and short pieces before attempting something as large a symphony.
Of course, the young man was very disappointed by this response, but he thundered ahead, pointing out to Mozart, "But you wrote a symphony when you were only 8 years old!"
To which Mozart responded, "Yes, but I did not have to ask how to do it."
Thus, if you have to ask how to write a novel, you should be working on shorter works, such as short stories, poetry, essays or even novellas. Almost every writer has formative years, so start forming! Learn about your own style, tighten your chops, write more often and more frequently every day so that you can learn to maintain focus, work toward a goal, and turn out a consistent body of work daily. When you do that, you can worry about writing a novel. But until then, work on your writing skills rather than a novel.
How long do I wait for a response from a publisher?
If you submit your work electronically, the best wait for a response is, "Not at all." This is because most publishers will not send you a reponse for rejected queries and manuscripts. If they don't want it, they will usually just ignore it. At least that is what happened to me; I never received a single response from any of my electronic submissions.
With that in mind, you should send out simultaneous submissions to several agents or publishers and let the chips fall where they may. And if you get a few acceptances, well, that's a pretty good problem to have, isn't it? Pick the publisher that will give you the sales and service you are looking for and enjoy the checks.
Do I really have to write proposals and query letters? Can't I just send them my manuscript?
Yes, you have to write query letters and proposals. No, most publishers won't let you just send in your manuscript. Yes, that is a pain in the rear. No, there is nothing you can do to change it.
The best advice I can give to the aspiring writer who suddenly discovers that they have to write a query letter is, "Deal with it." If you can write a book, you can write a one-page letter if you really want that book to be published. If you can't be bothered to write a one-page letter to an agent or publisher, then you don't actually want your book published, do you?
Fact is, the folks who wade through those piles of slush want something quick and easy that tells them, "Can this person write?" Your query letter or proposal is your one chance to show them that you can do that. So write good (or, more correctly, "well").
But if you are still having trouble writing the letter, look at it a little differently: Think of it as a writing project. After all, you are a writer, you (in theory) enjoy writing, so another, challenging writing project should be fun, right? Whatever it takes to write that letter, do it.
How do I write effective query letters?
Heck if I know. I've never been published, remember?
Or you can just buy a book on writing query letters.
How do I make sure I never get a rejection letter?
Don't become a writer.