The most moving part of becoming an author is being able to offer insights, ignite emotions, and allow people to remember a memory or foreshadow their future. As if you know what someone is feeling at that moment.
Although the answer to how to become an author seems simple, it requires a lot of personal development skills if you want to be a successful one. And with today’s technology and the popularity of self-publishing authors, you can become an author today. All you need to do is write a book and publish it through various online platforms.
Easy right? But what’s the catch?
Well, several steps can point you in the right direction of becoming a published author. Let’s define what an author is first and know the difference between a writer and an author.
What is an author?
Authors are innovative and dedicated individuals who write any form of literary work, whether fiction or non-fiction. They’re creative storytellers specializing in capturing the reader’s attention in a specific genre at any length, from short stories to full-length books.
Whatever genre of work you want to pursue, you must have the right mindset and writing skills to perfect your craft.
Some authors hire a literary agent to market and publish their writing pieces, while others take the initiative to self-publish their work.
Writer vs author
People often confuse author and writer. They do relate to each other, but they have their subtle yet distinct differences.
The difference between a writer and an author is apparent. A writer is an author without a published book, while an author is a writer with a published writing piece. But writers can still be as successful as an author. Pursuing a career as a writer has its lucrative and fulfilling benefits.
Companies often hire professional writers to create content—blogs, copywriting, ghostwriting, and technical writing—for their business.
However, becoming an author requires you to have specialized writing skills. It takes a lot of training, patience, practice, and networking. And knowing the proper guide to get your book published goes a long way.
So let’s get started on your writing journey!
How to become an author: Your step-by-step guide to get started
Now that you know the difference between an author and a writer, it’s time to refine and expand your writing skills. So here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a published author.
Most successful authors dedicate a lot of time to building strong writing foundations. They write every day whether they’re in a creative mood or not. This practice is what sets authors and writers apart.
If you don’t write often enough, you’ll eventually lose touch with your creativity. As a result, you’ll have trouble brainstorming content.
Stick with a writing schedule and make it a daily habit.
Writing every day improves your memory and builds your vocabulary skills. Additionally, it helps with writer’s block.
Writer’s block is what terrifies most writers. It’s a temporary condition where you can’t think of what to write or feel stuck in your writing process. It’s because of the inner critic that halts your ideas from coming to life.
So what can you do if you’re experiencing writer’s block?
Just keep writing and let all your ideas flow freely. Scribble down all the thoughts in your head. It shouldn’t matter if the sentence structure is correct. As long as you can get it down on paper, the ideas will start coming along as you write. You can always go back to them to finalize your grammar and punctuation.
Keep a journal or a blog that you can visit every day to express your ideas. Write a reflection on a book you’re reading since reading and writing go hand in hand.
Successful authors don’t just happen overnight.
2. Start with shorter works
Consistent quality writing is better than producing many invaluable writing pieces.
People want to read because they want to gather valuable information that they can apply to their lives.
Start by producing shorter, more quality works first.
While writing long pages of content sounds exciting, putting your thoughts in shorter chunks can help you practice when you’re ready to write and publish your book.
Use freelance writing to grab opportunities to better your writing skills. In addition, it allows you to narrow down on what type of writing style speaks to you, whether it’s persuasive writing, narrative, descriptive, or expository.
In today’s technological advancement, technical writers are in high demand.
Corporations are looking for skilled technical writers to translate complex scientific and technical terms into straightforward documents.
Similarly, there are countless opportunities for aspiring fiction writers as well.
You can start writing short stories and sell them on various online platforms. Such as Apparition Lit, where they have a quarterly themed journal, LampLight Magazine for dark fiction and horror stories. And finally, Write City Magazine, a publication from Chicago Writer’s Association for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction works.
Every author has their fair share of writing a short story at some point in their career.
Creating many informative or imaginative short stories is a part of the journey to become a published author.
A writer doesn’t have to have a published book to become successful. You can be an accomplished full-time freelance writer and still earn a decent amount of money.
3. Join a workshop
Workshops can give you a supportive environment to help you become an author.
Joining workshops enhances your writing abilities and helps you link up with like-minded people who share the same vision; to tell stories and educate people.
Aspiring writers are prone to burnout, especially if they have no one to seek guidance from when things get rough.
Members of writing workshops can encourage you when you’re on the verge of quitting writing, offering you advice where you need support the most.
There will be group associates with different writing experiences that can help you with your writing practice, while others might help you publish your book.
Once you find the right writing group, you can share your stories and get authentic feedback to refine and improve your writing process.
You can find writing groups online or search for meetup groups around your neighborhood. Narrowing down your search depending on the genre of your interest helps you connect with people with the same passion.
4. Network with other authors
Networking helps authors succeed. Without networking, they might miss out on the industry’s best, latest writing practices.
Networking should be your priority if you want to know how to become an author, especially if you’re in the self-publishing industry. It’ll help you stay updated with the current industry trend and expose you to relevant industry forums and discussions.
Workshops are an excellent place to start networking.
Instead of looking at other authors in your group as competition, collaborate with them. Ask if they want to join you in live online discussions where you can talk about your latest work. In this way, you keep a positive relationship that allows you to get in touch with new readers.
Having a solid professional network can impact your writing career on so many levels.
As your network connections add up, your opportunities to connect with other writing professionals get more expansive. You’ll never know the next person you network with might be able to help you become a bestselling author.
5. Take a writing course
Becoming a successful author takes a lifetime of learning.
Whether you have a bachelor’s degree or a community college certificate, there’s always something new to enhance your existing writing skills.
Taking creative writing programs can give you appropriate guidance in analyzing your own writing ability so you can write clearly with ease. In addition, your trainers will guide you to overcome writing problems and may help you strategize the best publishing process.
You may find online writing courses for different facets of writing. Such as persuasive, novel, and fiction writing. There are even courses on how to publish your own writing.
There are many ways to become a successful writer, but you have to stay motivated and consistent with your craft.
6. Gather support
Successful published authors have a reliable support system.
Your support system is your family, workshop group members, other authors, mentors, and readers. They’re the ones who will help you skyrocket your career.
Many of your fellow writers in your group will give you honest, constructive feedback about your work. And many of them are willing to help you approach a challenging situation logically.
Feedback can grow your writing ability. Usually, the best way to get a writer’s perspective is to ask other writers for constructive criticism.
How you build a relationship with other authors with a good readership allows you to grow together in a competitive market. In addition, they may give the same or even more support if you stand up for their endeavor.
Readers who leave positive reviews about your piece are their way of supporting you. Though it’s inevitable to come across negative reviews, don’t take them to heart. But, learn from those reviews to better your writing skills.
7. Pinpoint your readership
Knowing your readership is the same as understanding your target audience minus the complications of knowing your reader persona.
Readership talks about the readers of a book or periodical.
For example, if you’re writing for travel magazines, your readers are travelers. On the other hand, your primary target reader is digital readers if you’re mainly writing ebooks.
Pinpointing your prospective readers goes hand in with knowing what type of book you want to write. And understanding this step helps your publishers and literary agents scale down your target audience to market your book effectively.
However, you need to remember that you can’t please everyone with your book. But make sure to interact with your readers through your website, social media platforms, or during your in-person reading session to get to know them better.
8. Determine the kind of book you want to write
Many aspiring authors struggle to know what to write because they can’t decide what type of book they want to write. They want to share a story, but at the same time, they want to teach their readers something.
But you can’t simply become an author without determining what kind of genre you want to write.
It’s understandably challenging to distinguish the perfect book to write because there are many writing genres. So, it’s essential to know intention first.
Ask yourself these questions to help you identify your genre.
- What’s the purpose of this book?
- Is this trying to inform and teach readers something, or is it to entertain people?
- Is my book trying to relate to personal growth?
- Do I want to write an imaginative story following a love life?
If you want to help people solve a problem or create a personal transformation, you may want to write non-fiction books. Books like self-help and personal development, cook books, and Business writing falls into this category.
However, if you want to publish a creative book with chilling backstories, then fiction writing is for you. You may write thriller and mystery books, novellas and romance, or fantasy and sci-fi.
Whatever genre of writing you decide to write, it’s imperative to write what you love and know without forgetting about your readers.
9. Get published
There is no correct formula on how to become an author. It’s typically a process of trial and error. But, before you finally publish your book, you may want to look into hiring a professional editor or get serious about self-editing.
Finishing a book doesn’t stop at writing “The End.” Instead, there’s a whole polishing process to get the best version.
You’re ready to publish your book when there are almost no typographical errors. However, if you feel like it still needs work, an editor can help you.
Getting your book into bookstores is not easy. So ask yourself, should I traditionally publish my book, or do I have the resources to self-publish?
Weigh out the pros and cons of different publishing methods. So you need to consider four things:
- Royalty rates
- Cost to publish
- Publishing time
Self-publishing allows many authors to publish many books at any given time. In addition, it gives them creative freedom and higher royalty rates over hiring an agent.
For example, Amazon gives 70% royalties for an ebook.
But the downside of the self-publishing process is that you have to do everything yourself.
You have to pay for editing, formatting, and distribution, where you can spend up to $3000 or more on the production process.
Luckily the digital age has made it possible to self-publish books. With the internet, publishing and distribution have never been more accessible to an international market.
Online platforms like IngramSpark give you options for a print book or ebook distribution.
Traditional publishing can be confusing for aspiring writers. You might need a literary agent to guide you through the process.
An agent is your key person in the publishing world. But it takes at least 1-3 years for them to publish your book if they accept it.
If you decide to publish traditionally, you have fewer responsibilities and more opportunities to sell physical copies of your books in nationwide book stores.
Additionally, it costs $0 to publish if you find a proper traditional publishing house, but you get only 10%-12.5% royalties for your book.
Submit directly to publishers
Submitting directly to a publishing company without an agent is possible.
However, you have to do your research because some traditional publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.
Try to network within your genre and make sure you’re familiar with the procedure within your genre. You may attend conferences, workshops or even seek advice from a writing community. Gather information within your circle to help you find the right book publisher.
On the other hand, indie publishers are an exception to the rule.
Small independent publishers only publish a certain number of books per year. Unfortunately, they have fewer distribution networks.
Many writers often seek an agent because they have a better network to distribute their books.
If you want to become a published author, you must assess your pro and cons when publishing your book. Then see which route is better for you depending on the type of book you’re trying to print.
10. Grow your profile and market yourself
Generally, people believe that publishing companies are responsible for marketing.
Although it’s true to some extent, you need to advertise yourself if you want to be a successful author. Most best-selling authors don’t rely on publishing companies alone. Instead, they make an author website and use book promo sites like BookBub and other online forums to talk about their writing.
How hard is it to become an author?
Becoming an author can be possible in this digital age and the trend of self-publication. But being a bestselling author takes perseverance, hard work, and expertise in their publication method.
Though many successful writers have rapid success, others struggle to get published.
Traditionally published authors go through a lengthy process but have better chances of selling their books. In contrast, self-published writers can publish their work quicker and earn higher royal rates.
No matter the publishing route you’re taking, you have to dedicate your time, focus, and attention to your writing passion.
Recommended courses for you
Now that you know the steps on how to become an author, here are some courses that might pique your interest.
Learn the best strategies to maximize your existing resources and become a best-selling author.
This online course will teach you the basic process of using a traditional publisher and the self-publishing process.
Here you’ll gain insights on leveraging online tools like websites and opt-ins while integrating social media to promote your book through podcasting and live book reading.
This course will show you the simplest way to show the world your creative writing skills.
Here, you’ll learn to become an author and publish your book through your smartphone, whether you want your book as an audio or a printed copy.
How to Write a Novel course is your roadmap to structure your novel the right way.
Here You’ll understand the purpose of a story arc and how it can make or break your story. Next, you’ll learn how to write realistic and relatable characters. Finally, learn how to edit your first novel and publish your work on Amazon Kindle.
Understanding the steps on how to become an author gives you direction.
It starts with establishing a daily writing habit to prevent you from spending a lot of time staring at a blank page.
Second, every author should try writing a short story at some point in their writing career. It allows you to gain valuable writing skills you’ll need when you’re ready to publish your book.
Third, join writing workshops to engage with writers at various writing levels.
Fourth, networking with other authors is a great way to collaborate with other successful writers.
Fifth, writing courses can help you advance your career in becoming an author. It’ll give you the right mindset to tackle any challenges that come your way.
Sixth, gathering support from your readers and loved ones can make your dreams of becoming an author a reality. Use them as a separate set of eyes to better your skills.
Seventh, considering your readership and writing genre can make it easier to know what type of book you want to write.
Eighth, knowing how to become an author means identifying the right publishing method applicable to you, whether self-publishing or traditional publishing.
Lastly, don’t forget to market yourself.