How to Become An Author: 6 Steps for Successful Book Publishing
Have you ever wondered how to become an author? There are specific steps you can take, no matter your writing goals, to get there. In this article, we explain the six-step process you can take to go from a wannabe writer to an established best-seller. If you’ve ever wondered how to start a career as an author or if it’s difficult to even become a writer, you’ve come to the right place. With hard work, determination, and refusing to give up, the chances of your success are high. In this article, we discuss:
How Do I Start My Career As An Author?
Is It Hard To Become A Writer?
How Can You Become An Author
Tips On Becoming An Author
According to Publishers Weekly, the unit sales for print books in 2021 exceeded 825,000. While that may seem like an overwhelmingly large number, there is an equally large market for books. Whether you want to publish a print book or an eBook, the market is ready for you. We just need to determine how to best get you there. To do that, we must first answer one of the most common questions around this topic:
Can Anyone Become An Author?
Can Anyone Become An Author?
While arguably anyone can become an author, there are a few things to consider prior to starting your writing journey. The writing process is long. Multiple steps will take you from dreamer to published author, but it’s important to ask yourself the right questions to articulate your dream.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Can I become an author, or, is it hard to become an author?” The answer is yes. Yes, you can become an author and yes, it is difficult. Between 2020 and 2021 there was an 8.9% rise in book sales. There is a certain level of satisfaction in knowing you’re publishing a book writers will love. Before setting out, ask yourself:
Do you have a passion for writing or just for getting published?
The writing process is long, and if you don’t love the journey itself, you may want to choose a different avenue to express your creative writing.
Are you ready to commit to following the six steps necessary to become an author?
The following action steps will help take you from dreamer to author.
Let’s dive in!
Types of Authors
Just as there are many different types of readers, there are many types of authors. Different authors focus on different genres, audiences, and career goals. Authors fall under two main categories—fiction and nonfiction. Let’s briefly look at several sub-categories:
Fictional characters set in a historically accurate setting
A well-known novel that largely contributes to literature
Coming of Age
Largely focuses on the protagonist’s growth, character arc, and what they learn
Written for children, to teach and/or entertain
Setting in which the plot couldn’t happen in real-life, often involving magic
Written for adults, often as mood stimulator, to scare, disgust, or frighten
Focuses on developing a love relationship between two people
Deals with the impact of futuristic scientific events, or other technological advances on society
A book focused on the theme of one person’s life lessons, stories, or experiences
A book that accurately depicts real-world, past events with no creative liberties
A book portraying real crimes and a factual recounting of what happened
Books to help individuals reach their goals or achieve dreams
Note that the specific genre you choose to write will directly impact your timeline to becoming an author. Here are some examples of each:
How Long Does It Take To Become An Author?
Your timeline will vary depending on your goals and the type of book your write. If you want to traditionally publish, your manuscript is written, and a publisher has offered a contract, it will likely take between 9 months and 2 years to publish your manuscript. This process is extended due to the involvement of a professional editor, graphic designer, and marketing team, as well as creating a successful launch.
The amount of years to become an author will change if you choose to self-publish, in which case you will need to focus your time on marketing your material and can bypass the pitching phase (also known as shopping the manuscript to publishers in hopes of being offered a contract). Marketing is essential whether you choose to traditional publish or self-publish. However, it is particularly essential for you, the author, to market your book if you self-publish. In traditional publishing, the publisher helps with marketing. In self-publishing, you act as your marketer. If you choose to self-publish, you can create your marketing plan as you draft your manuscript and save time when your book is fully edited.
Average Amount of Money An Author Makes
Your author salary is largely dependent on what you write, where it is published, and the market itself. A myriad of other factors contributes to the average amount of money an author makes. Before assessing your potential for income, as yourself a few questions:
- Do you mainly blog?
- Write nonfiction?
- Write fiction?
- How public do you plan to be as an author?
Many factors contribute to your annual income:
- Hardcover books typically have a higher selling point.
- The more books you write the higher your chances of selling.
- Some genres usually sell more than others.
- Royalties for authors of traditionally published books are usually less than royalties for self-published books.
You can also include speaking engagements in your annual income. Many writers are often speakers for writing conferences, keynotes for large events, guest presenters for college graduations, or podcasts guests. Authors have the added benefit of multiple income streams contributing to their average income.
Becoming An Author Step by Step
The following steps to becoming an author are an aid to equip you to go from your current writing stage to your dream.
Step 1: Obtain Knowledge
One of the first steps to becoming an author is learning what it actually means to write. Yes, we all learned to write in school, but creative writing follows a specific set of rules. Learning and implementing these rules will help take your writing to industry-standard and improve your potential for obtaining sales.
Can You Become An Author Without A Degree?
Yes, you can become an author without a degree, but it will greatly influence your chances of success if you educate yourself in writing in at least some capacity. Whether this is through free webinars, books, or an online class, do your research so you can write your best work.
What Education Do you Need To Become An Author?
While you technically do not need a formal education to become an author, taking classes or courses on writing is essential to your writing success. Rules like “show don’t tell” or “give the reader credit” are not taught in grade school but are imperative to understand when writing for the marketplace.
- Show Don’t Tell: Author Jerry B. Jenkins explains it as, “When you tell rather than show, you inform your reader of information rather than allowing him to deduce anything.”
- Give the Reader Credit: Jerry B. Jenkins explains this as, “She walked through the open door” and asks, “Did we need to be told it was open?”
Step 2: Start A Blog
Two-time TEDx speaker, former teacher, and founder of Kids Cook Real Food eCourse (recommended by The Wall Street Journal in 2020 as the best online cooking class for kids), Katie Kimball, realized the importance of starting small. A self-proclaimed academic with a passion for teaching the importance of healthy eating, prior to ever writing her book, Katie Kimball started a blog to build her audience. Following this method is extremely helpful in the early stages as you gather information and collect audience feedback on your content. Additionally, a blog is a great portfolio to draw from as you move into writing your book later on.
Step 3: Build An Audience
There are a multitude of ways to build an audience. Whether you choose to go online and create a standout social media brand, engage in speaking opportunities, or make use of both platforms via giving a TEDx talk, build an audience so you have a following for your book. The more you can define your target audience and build that audience, the better you will be able to market to your audience when the time arises. Remember, it’s crucial to build an audience not just for marketing purposes but to provide your followers with rich content.
Step 4: Learn To Self-Edit
Learning to self-edit your work will save you expenses when it comes time to hire a professional editor. Mastering self-editing rules like show don’t tell, give the reader credit, active voice versus passive voice, and point-of-view will increase your credibility in the marketplace.
The good news is this doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. Popular tools like Grammarly and Outwrite can help you master your writing style in no time. Grammarly offers subject-verb agreement suggestions, tense, and other editing hacks that significantly improve your writing style. Meanwhile, other online tools can also help you improve your writing in no time.
Step 5: Master Your Voice
Your writing voice is what sets you apart from other writers, so it’s crucial to master your tone as early as you can. One of the most effective ways to do this is by simply writing. Write, and do not worry about editing. Write until you see a trend in the way you communicate via the written word. Is your voice:
The earlier you articulate the type of writing voice you have, the sooner you can master it. Read dozens of books in your genre, take note of the styles you enjoy, and then create your own writing voice that is authentic to you.
Step 6: Work With A Writing Coach
Working with a writing coach is a large factor in giving you the best chance possible for success. It is extremely helpful to have an established author coach you through the various steps of your writing journey. Whether you work directly with an author with decades of experience or choose to work through a course independently with an author from an online coaching community like MasterClass, a coach can help you overcome issues proactively. Experienced professionals also give you the confidence to keep pursuing your goals.
Why Become An Author
Now that you know how to become an author it’s time to determine whether or not this journey is for you. To do that, you’ll need to consider the source of your author dreams. Do your desires stem from writing passions or the desire to be well-known?
Once you’ve determined the source of your passion, it’s time to try out the steps we list above.
Do you have a grammar knowledge base or access to writing training? Take some classes that can help improve your writing skills. Consider the type of information you want to write and set a schedule for how often you’ll do it. Continually edit yourself, build your audience, and ask others for feedback along the way.
If you’ve followed the steps above and still feel on fire for writing, then this journey is probably for you. However, if you find yourself questioning why you’re here, it might be time to re-evaluate your goals. At the end of the day, it’s important to understand that becoming an author is less about fame and more about spreading your message to individuals that need to hear it. When you start this journey thinking about what your written words can do for others, you’re sure to be an established author in no time.