On Being an Author: Tools to Get Stated
Becoming an author seems easy. You just write a book—fiction, non-fiction, or poetry—and send it out to a publisher. From then on, you can start earning money even while you sleep.
A writing degree isn’t even needed. Anyone can be an author, including high school students and social media influencers. Good writing is all it takes, not to mention plenty of luck.
But in reality, being an author looks easy only on the outside. Behind every author’s success are grueling hard work and numerous failures. Social media influencers and celebrities may have it easier, but their success in the writing field isn’t guaranteed, nonetheless. Even if their books sell well, it doesn’t mean they will automatically gain positive reviews.
In fact, even experienced authors with a writing degree can also receive negative reviews on their works. A writing career is full of ups and downs. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth venturing into.
If you love reading and writing, being an author is surely one of your dreams, if not your ultimate one. And you can become a successful one, especially with these tools:
Writing skills are gained from reading a lot of books. If you want to write non-fiction, a good book to read is On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser. Published in 1976, it’s a classic among writers. One of the key lessons from the book is linear and sequential writing, which is important in non-fiction titles.
Stephen King has also written something for aspiring authors. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft tells the story of King’s journey to becoming the writer he is today. In the second half of the book, he shares his writing strategies, including the advice that you should write for your “Ideal Reader.”
If you want to be published traditionally, Ernest Hemingway on Writing may help you. It’s a collection of Hemingway’s insights on the craft of writing as well as inspiring and practical tips. You should also check out commissioned articles about Hemingway, where he shared his letters to agents, publishers, and friends.
After reading books—or while reading them—it’s time to practice your writing. Some aspiring writers, particularly young ones, get a college degree in writing. Others settle for practice alone. Both are good because a college degree isn’t required to be a writer, though it can give you an edge over non-degree holders.
But at the end of the day, it’s your skills that will matter more than your education. Your passion counts, too. If you’re truly serious about becoming an author, nothing—not your age, socioeconomic status, etc.—can stop you. Love for reading and writing is what drove seven-year-old Abhijita Gupta to become the world’s youngest writer. She developed an interest in writing at five. When India went on lockdown, she used the time to write most of her poems. Now, Gupta plans to write a book about the ongoing pandemic and its effect on children worldwide.
You’re never too young or too old to write. As long as your passion is alive, you can start writing, even if you don’t produce perfect results right away. Even renowned authors make mistakes.
3. A Platform to Show off Your Writing
Many authors, especially fiction authors, show off their writing on free online platforms before publishing their books. It doesn’t reward you monetarily, but at least, if a publisher notices your book, you can get a chance to earn from sales. Using social media is also important for you. On Twitter, agents, editors, and other industry professionals regularly hold the Pitch Wars. It’s a contest for writers, in which the winner can have their manuscript read by agents.
Finally, when you feel ready to put your book out in the world, you need a publisher. Authors usually research self-publishing vs. traditional publishing before taking this step. Basically, self-publishing allows you to publish your book without an agent and a publishing house, who will get the larger portion from your sales. Traditional publishing is the opposite. For that reason, self-publishing is becoming a popular option among new authors. It lets you earn more, though you have to do the marketing yourself. In traditional publishing, your publisher will market your book for you.
Whichever you choose, your career as an author will have ups and downs. So many books are published every year, making the competition tough. So keep writing and don’t give up. The more books you publish, the larger your audience becomes, and success will find you in no time.