How to Become an Author [In 9 Steps]

By Steph Fraser | Posted on April 21st, 2019

As much as 80% of Americans wish to become an author. If you wish to become an author and don’t know how to become an author, this is the guide for you.

I’ll be honest.

Becoming a writer isn’t easy. You can’t just write a bunch of stuff and call it a book. Authoring something good is a process. The good news is that none of your efforts will ever go to waste, if you stay committed. Even bad writing is good practice.

Writing a book will open the door to many fantastic opportunities for you, such as:

  • Getting your book in print.
  • Doing what you love and earning money from it at the same time.
  • Affecting the lives of the people who read your book.
  • The attention of the mass media.

There are over 45K authors and writers who are employed in the US. This means you can learn from the experiences of these existing authors.

us author statistics

This guide is written from experiences and stories of successful authors. This article will most definitely assist you in becoming an author if you’re ready to learn.

It covers everything you need to know to become a successful author. It covers all the stages and complete process of becoming an author. We’ll cover several things regarding preparation, the writing process itself, and publishing. Nothing is missed.

It’s been broken down into several steps to make the process as easy to understand as possible:

  1. Proper preparation
  2. Join a writing group
  3. Make a plan
  4. Strategize
  5. Don’t neglect your job
  6. Learn to edit well
  7. Consider traditional publishing
  8. Consider self-publishing
  9. Hire a professional editor

Let’s get started…

1. How to Become an Author With Proper Preparation

It is normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed as you begin the process of learning how to become an author.

You are after success. You want your book to do well. Everyone has heard the stories of authors who skyrocket to the top of bestseller lists with their very first try. Everyone secretly wants this but it is not often realistic.

A unique and high quality book made these writers different from the rest. If you want to stand out from the crowd, follow these steps:

Understand and Perfect Your Writing Skills

The best authors are the best book lovers.

The race of writing has become so stern. You will make yourself happy once you acquire the knowledge of how famous writers inscribe.

Read a lot. Study structure and practice every day. Never stop striving to improve. Determine your style of writing and understand how it works. Know exactly what you are trying to write before pursuing a publisher.

This will make things much easier.

Write Short Pieces

In the quest of how to write a book, you need to recall you school time. When you start your process of writing, we can say that you should start as a “kindergartener” to learn the basics.

Your understanding of writing will develop in stages. A book is a final destination and you can compare it to grad school, you should begin with the tiny things. You will never be able to write a book if you do not establish your skills.

You can start by creating a blog and writing short articles or try your hand at some short stories to practice character and setting creation. You can also take classes on article writing and expand your knowledge basis.

Coursera has a lot of article writing classes that you can choose from.

coursera writing courses screenshot

Publishing agencies are now supporting writers who have fan bases on social media and they can enhance your place in the world of writing. Publishing companies like exposure so gaining a following will work greatly in your favor.

2. Join a Society of Like-Minded People

Every conventional writer who has published a book is usually encircled by a society of people who chase the same goal. This support group is there to assist them with issues like:

  1. Hindrance
  2. Dissuasion
  3. Putting off writing
  4. Feeling the need to abandon your manuscript
  5. Procrastination
  6. Writer’s block
  7. Lack of inspiration

A society stands for a place of encouragement by people who have similar goals. It helps you learn how to write a novel, how to write a book, how to develop characters, how to create outlines, what book writing software to use, and more.

You can carry any issues that you have to the group and you’ll be surprised by how much help, encouragement, and input you will receive. You should be able to take correction and constructive criticism.

Try to look for groups that have at least a few published authors in their midst such as American Christian Fiction Writers.

American Christian Fiction Writers homepage screenshot

These people can help you the most as they have been through the entire process successfully.

3. Make a Writing Plan to Suit Your Schedule

Shockingly, a lot of people who get past the first stage never even begin this one. We could attribute it to continuous postponement during the writing process of the book or lack of encouragement.

A lot of writers never end up starting that book they put so much planning into. Everyone has a particular style of writing which means that no one writes the same, which is why I have drafted out only so tips that will help you while planning your time for writing.

If you’re not sure how to write a book, this is the first thing that you should know. Your writing plan should be comfortable and easy to follow.

If you are truly to learn how to become an author, you must understand that writing is your duty. This means that even when you do not feel the need or urge to write you should probably do it anyway.

You should be able to spare at least six hours per week for your writing. You should not just create the time, you must stick to it and make it a firm part of your schedule. It is best to create SMART goals for your writing project.

smart goals

Here is a piece of fantastic advice: When you have no idea of what to write try editing and if you do not feel like editing you can create a writing strategy for your book. You’ll be shocked by the amount of work you can finish when you’re focused.

4. Strategize

This is the most crucial step in this stage because you can only create an excellent bestselling book when you create strategies. There are two critical ways of planning and strategizing.

Outlining

An outline is essential because it gives you a picture of how your book will play out. It also provides motivation and inspiration.

Some people outline in a very detailed way while others don’t care for outlines much at all. A true outliner puts down the main points ahead of time, and this makes it easier to continue writing.

The writers who prefer not to outline will be writing without knowing the whole ending. They only see what happens when they write. There is no right or wrong way to do this – everyone is different.

Research

If you’ve ever noticed great stories are backed by robust investigation on the main topic. If your research is terrible, your book will lack. If you know how to write a novel, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Even if you have no idea about a topic, an in-depth investigation will help you know more about it. Get your facts right before putting it into writing to avoid embarrassment.

Two tools that are highly rated among writers and help to prevent any errors are:

5. Don’t Neglect Your Job

Knowing how to become an author doesn’t mean ignoring the rest of your life.

Your day job is just as important as your writing career right now. It is your main source of income and you need to maintain your lifestyle. Unless you are in the small category of those with no responsibilities, you’ll need to keep your job for now.

Your 9-5 job doesn’t hinder your writing practice, if anything, it only serves to inspire you to write more.

6. Learn to Edit Well

Learning how to become an author and how to write a book includes learning how to edit. As Jodi Picoult said:

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

The editing process will determine the success of your book. You are the first factor that affects this because before your book is taken to any professional editor, you must edit it first.

Publishers are usually able to get a good idea of a book’s potential by the first few pages. This may not seem logical, but they are very good at what they do. Their eye is trained and they know what to look for.

Your hook should be in the first five paragraphs anyway so they will get an idea of the main conflict. To avoid a disappointing letter in the future your book must be intriguing from the beginning.

There are some editing tips to keep in mind when going through your draft:

  1. You should be capable of withstanding criticism.
  2. Don’t make use of words that are too difficult to understand.
  3. Get rid of pointless words.
  4. Use book writing software where necessary.
  5. No redundancy. Go straight to the point.
  6. Erase ‘that’ – you should only use it for precision.
  7. As soon as you have explained something, you don’t have to repeat it.
  8. Don’t make the mistake of explaining an event that is not taking place.
  9. Don’t use too many adjectives.
  10. Use editing software like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor.
  11. Adverbs should be avoided at all costs.
  12. Excessive stage direction should be avoided.
  13. Don’t switch perspectives in the middle of a scene.
  14. No more cliché.
  15. Fight the need to clarify and explain.
  16. Express emotions, locations, scents. Don’t just tell.
  17. People answer when asked questions.
  18. Your characters should not have the same names or names that could easily be mixed up by readers.

7. How to Become an Author Through Traditional Publishing

traditional path to publishing

This part will explain how to become an author and how to write a novel or a book by going over all the options. The listed procedures can significantly increase your chances of getting published.

Get a Reliable Agent

A good agent is essential to the development of your book and how long it takes to get it onto shelves. An agent who knows what he is doing will help you in your quest to learn how to become an author.

This can be a tricky stage. You might feel your book has an important and powerful message to share with the world. Your story is brilliant and needs to be read.

However, many agents only think from the perspective of money. They will only accept your offer if your book will generate a lot of revenue. If they don’t see that potential, they will not take you on.

Don’t let this kind of thing get you discouraged. There are agents out there who will believe in your work and want to help you – assuming your work is indeed of good quality. Although it is quite challenging to find an agent like this, it is difficult to get published without an agent.

You are free to submit your manuscript to a publishing house yourself, but many won’t even look at it without the endorsement of an agent. Good agents know what they are doing and having one will increase your opportunities significantly.

In addition to their knowledge of the industry and their connections, agents can help you craft those query letters and propositions. They know what to say to garner the proper attention. A good agent is undeniably an asset to you and your publishing endeavor.

There are many agents out there who do not know how to do the job adequately. An agent who knows their job will embrace reviews, so you ask around before committing to anyone. Read reviews about the agents and ask clients who have worked with them before.

Ask their previous clients: How their manuscript ended up and how they were treated and were they happy about the end result.

Ask the publishers the agent worked with about the styles and types of books they have prospered with and if they have succeeded with a book of the same genre as yours.

Convince the Publishers

As soon as you have a compilation of all the publishing agents who you believe to be suitable for you and your book, obey their proposed rules.

They might request for a synopsis and probably some chapters of your book. Please note that if they as you for any form of payment immediately, then you should place them at the bottom of your list.

There are several items which you might be asked to get, and they are items a few writers find hard to produce. Knowing how to become an author includes learning these important elements of selling yourself and your book.

A Query Letter

This is the simplest way to send your message to an agent, however, some other agents would instead prefer a complete proposal. It is best to submit your proposal by electronic mail as an add-on and not a part of the real message. The letter should be short and straight to the point.

Here is an example of a query letter:

query letter sample

The purpose of the query letter is to inquire if the publishing agent is interested in your manuscript. You should remember to make it interesting and fascinating because at this moment you aren’t selling to the public, you are selling to your publishing agent

A good query letter is divided into four parts:

The Elevator Pitch

This is the summary of the basis of your manuscript. It should be as short as possible and very conclusive.

A Synopsis

Remember that a synopsis is not a summary. Here, you tell the agent what happens in the book up until the end. From here, the agent should be able to see the ending of your book.

Your Target Audience

You must convince your publishing agent that your book will sell, let them share the same vision that you have.

Why would your book sell to the set of people you have chosen to sell it to? Convince them but do not exaggerate because they know more than you do.

In reality, all books sell, according to Wally Lamb:

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.”

So it shouldn’t be a big challenge to convince a publisher.

Your Data

Let the agent get to know you. What makes you qualified to write a book? Do you have a fan base? Do you have any books in print already? How can you be contacted? Where did you learn how to write a book? Did you use any book writing software?

Remember to include all of this information in your query letter and check through to get rid of any typographical errors.

Your Book Proposal

A lot of agents prefer a proposal over a query letter. Some agents might accept both.

A proposal should briefly explain the specifics of your plot and let it push them to want to read more. Do not exclude a single part, not even the smallest event. When you add a book proposal to your query letter, it is turned into a cover letter.

how to write a book proposal

Some tips for writing your book proposal letter:

  • Let the agent know why your book is bound to become a success.
  • Your proposal should be intriguing with no errors and uncertainties.

A book proposal might include:

  1. Plot.
  2. Summary.
  3. The audience you aim to sell to.
  4. Publicizing concepts.
  5. Testimonials.
  6. About four chapters of your book as a sample.

Whether or not you get an agent to work with, there are five significant rules which you must follow when writing the proposal letter:

  1. Obey their rules of submission firmly.
  2. Modify your cover letter whenever you send to a different agent. They will not appreciate generic letters.
  3. You should have an idea of the kind of book an agent is in search of. Sending a romance novel to a publisher who needs a book in the horror or mystery genre is a waste of time.
  4. Make it evident that you know exactly what you’re doing. Be convincing enough and let them know that you understand that only a few books are chosen out of the thousands of books sent to them.
  5. Flattery is a turnoff. Write your proposal as professionally and skillfully as possible and tell them that you hope to hear from them soon.

You can follow these tips for a professional letter:

  1. It’s best to use Times New Roman font.
  2. Your font size should be 12.
  3. Use the left justification when you are typing your proposal.
  4. Use double spacing and have no additional space in the middle of the paragraphs.
  5. Leave only one space in the middle of sentences.
  6. It is advisable to submit your document in .docx or .doc format.

8. How to Become an Author Through Self-Publishing

self publishing checklist

If it’s easy for you to publish it in the usual way, by working with a publisher, then you should go for it. But, accurately knowing how to become an author does not exclude self-publishing.

Self-publishing is quite expensive and you spend nothing less than fifteen thousand dollars on self-publishing, most of the time. This is unlike customary publishing, where the risk is placed on the publisher. Truthful self-publishing websites will tell you that it is best to publish your book traditionally.

Making Your Book Different

If you decide to self-publish you will understand that you have now taken the place of the publisher and it is your job to promote, endorse, and sell your book. You’ll need several book writing software to make things smooth.

However, when it comes to the earnings, you earn much more by self-publishing. To succeed in the world of self-publishing, your book must stand out. A few tips that will make your book different include:

  • A fantastic cover, you will have to buy a picture, font, and outline.
  • Inner outline, font, and typesetting.
  • Extensive editing and proofreading.

The listed factors will enable you to drastically heighten the look and feel of your book. Do not neglect these three steps.

Which Self-Publishing Firm is Best for You?

In the United States, over five hundred thousand books are self-published in the span of twelve months. This implies that there are several companies to work with. However, a lot of companies are pretenders, and they are only working with you for the money.

How do you know if a company is fake?

  1. They are never serious about the proofreading and editing stages of your book.
  2. They do not care about the obvious mistakes you make.
  3. They use the word ‘by’ before your title on the cover of your book.
  4. They make unattainable promises.

As soon as you are ready to self-publish your book, there are reputable companies with great reviews that are willing to assist you. You shouldn’t just browse the internet because virtually everything is on the internet now, the lies and the truth.

Ask questions and inquire about their customer service. If you do not feel good about a company, then you probably shouldn’t invest your time or money in it.

What Destroys Self-Published Books

When writers do not have any money to finance their books, the content is the part that lacks mainly. Writers might know that they are not skilled in creating covers for their book, outlining, choosing the font for their book, and selling and sharing their book.

However, they tend to forget that they are not professional editors and proofreaders. They would rather only pay for the design elements. A lot of writers neglect to hire an editor, and this just makes learning how to become an author much more difficult.

In the end, they are given an attractive looking book with repulsive content. The thing that makes you different from every other writer is the quality of your writing.

9. Hire a Professional Editor

Do you want to know how to become an author and how to write a book? Hire an editor. No exceptions.

By the time you are looking for an editor, you have already gone over your manuscript yourself multiple times. You have repositioned, enhanced, and amended many sections. Use book writing software for assistance like Squibler and editing tools like Grammarly.

When your publisher has accepted your manuscript, then you will be consigned to an editor to make your manuscript even better. This process might also hurt more than it did when you were editing your book by yourself because you and your editor will have to get rid of a lot of sentences and change a lot of scenes.

You Are Ready to Become an Author

Whether you have decided to pursue traditional or self-publishing, it is imperative that you get the process right. Take everything into consideration when figuring out how to become an author.

Do your research and due diligence on every person you intend to work with. Follow your instincts and don’t agree to anything you are not comfortable with.

Pay attention to quality and write from the heart. If you believe in your book, someone else will too. It’s just a matter of finding them!

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