There are over 45,000 employed authors in the U.S.
This number doesn’t even come close to the millions of writers around the globe who have a passion for the written word. Many people daily dream of seeing their name in print.
Becoming an author is no easy feat, but it is certainly a career path worth pursuing if you are invested enough. While every author’s path is different, many journeys to publication have commonalities.
In this post, we’ll discuss some helpful tips for becoming a successful author. Read on for insight!
1. Know What This Dream Means
Many people dream of being an author without truly knowing what this dream means to them. Do you dream of being published as a novelist? Do you want to be the next hottest blogger?
Perhaps you long to publish short fiction in literary journals or self-publish a poetry collection. Maybe e-books are more your style, and science fiction at that.
Take some time to define the nature of your author dream. Putting a vision into clear terms first can make the steps to reaching that vision all the easier.
Be as specific as possible. Tap deep into your passion here to define this dream. Write it down and post your summary of this dream wherever you write–your office, art studio, or bedroom.
2. Educate Yourself
The world is brimming with authors. A large portion of these writers is fluent in the written word. That is, they’ve been educated in how to write.
We’re not saying that you can’t become an author without an M.F.A. But it is important to know what is out there.
If you’re keen to become a published author of fiction, dive into an American Best Short Story collection. Read How Fiction Works by James Wood (a classic!). Learn about style, how to write compelling dialogue, and characterization.
As an aspiring poet, learn about the best poets around you. Peruse online forums to learn more about poetics. Sign up for a poetry class at your local community college.
Or, quite simply, study the writers you love and know best. What works about their writing? What makes their words compelling?
You don’t have to fork over tuition for a master’s program in writing. Study what is already in front of you.
3. Don’t Stop Reading
Every writer reads. Even when you’re in the middle of writing your next bestseller, be sure to surround yourself with books.
Reading gives you a sense of what your ideal market looks like. It can introduce you to new styles and voices for creative inspiration.
It can also help dissolve writer’s block, which is the foremost obstacle in getting published. Line your bookshelf with the writing wizards you know best.
4. Choose Your Genre (For Now)
Most successful authors choose one or more genre of writing. Even if you are in love with romance writing, spoken word, and screenwriting, it may be best to start out with one or two genres.
Marketing yourself as an author is far easier when you can market to one or two specific strengths.
Once you have a solid portfolio under your feet, you can certainly branch out. But it’s best to establish some firm footing in one area of the writing world.
If this is a hard step for you, think about where your heart lies. When you pick up a pen or open your laptop, what is most likely to emerge?
5. Build a Writing Habit
Becoming an author requires dedication. As you well know, writing can get rusty if you don’t regularly practice it.
Develop a writing routine that you feel confident you can adhere to. This may mean writing every morning for ten minutes before work. It may mean writing once a week when you have two hours and a cup of coffee.
Whatever the case, get in the habit of regularly writing, even if this writing isn’t for a specific purpose.
6. Get Comfortable Revising
Revision is at the heart of any author’s career. Some of the greatest classics underwent tens of hundreds of revisions prior to publication.
Get comfortable writing pieces, but also get well-versed in revising. Practice mindful editing of all of your pieces. If this is hard for you, join a writer’s group or ask your friends for input on pieces you’ve written.
Building your tolerance for feedback, especially criticism, can be vital to ensuring you succeed as a writer. Committing to revisions and re-drafts now means it will be all the easier down the road once you are published.
7. Establish a Network
The writer’s life can easily become a lonely and uninspired one. Don’t let this be the case! Build a writing network, just as you would a professional network.
Join a local writer’s group or jump aboard one of the many Facebook writer groups out there. Ask your library about writing community opportunities.
If you’ve graduated from university, tap into your alumni network for connections. Create business cards and a personal website, if possible, to further market yourself.
Your writing network can be your leg up when it comes to inspiration, advice, editing assistance, and publishing opportunities.
8. Build Your Portfolio First
Before you start sending your work out to agents and publishing houses, make sure you have a portfolio.
This may be a collection of blog posts you’ve written around the web. It could be some published poems in literary journals.
If you’re aiming to be a novelist, be sure that you have a manuscript written before you contact publishers.
Be cautious about marketing yourself before you have work to show for your passion!
9. Be Fearless
Becoming an author often means receiving rejections. Criticism is the nature of any art field, and it’s important to shoulder these rejections bravely.
Be fearless as you start putting your work out there, whether you are self-publishing and selling books on Amazon or guest posting on blogging platforms. When the negative comments roll in, don’t forget about your dream.
If you are curious about self-publishing, learn more about self-publishing a book cost and details here.
Final Thoughts: Becoming an Author
If you dream of seeing your name on a shiny book cover, don’t give up on this dream. Be sure to define it and then establish a regular writing practice.
Build your writer’s network and educate yourself in the world of words by reading favorite authors, researching writing techniques, and perhaps seeking out a mentor.
Don’t forget to build your portfolio before you contact publishers. The key to becoming an author is to define your niche and have something to show prospective agents.
At Humble Musings, we love inspiring our readers to live their best lives. Have a question or a humble musing yourself? Reach out today!