Some authors are born, and some come to it later. All are forged by fire and have something in common: they write.
It can be in any format or medium in any universe, but all authors share the same goal of giving existence to a narrative or poetic idea. This article will help you understand how to become an author and succeed at a writing career – whether you aim for a compilation of short stories, a series of fiction books, or collection of poems.
What Is an Author?
In order to understand how to become an author, it is best to recognize what an author does. This may seem redundant, but some people may not realize they have been an author for some time already.
An author writes many things, from personal notes to an epic novel. It can be a collection of ideas that are not yet committed to a page but are still swimming around in an idea soup.
If someone has a head full of ideas but has not yet written them down, they may still be considered as an author.
Sorting out stories and structures is a huge part of storytelling, and so if you have an idea but are too scared to commit it to the page, then understand you are already engaging in the earliest stages of what all authors go through—the idea stage.
Some authors set their ideas immediately to the page and let them build from there, while others might let an idea steep for days or even years before finding a way to get to the next stage of writing.
Most importantly, an author writes. If you have an idea in your head, write it down and let the idea grow. If the idea is the seed, writing things down waters it to turn it into a tree.
How Much Do They Make?
Authors can write anything and be anyone they want—novelists, poets, computer coders, paid writers, ghostwriters, copywriters, technical writers, and anyone who is the creator of something like the author of their personal destruction.
This list is incomplete and will constantly evolve with art, technology, and science. In 20 years, authors will likely be writing for virtual worlds.
The salary of a screenwriter ranges from $32,000 to $290,000 per year. If you decide to become a screenwriter, your salary depends on how big the projects are, what company you are working for, and what level of expertise you can offer. Some screenwriters even earn beyond the average per script when their works are exceptional and they become known in the industry.
Content Creator Salary
The salary of a content creator ranges from $29,000 to $79,000 per year. The average salary for a content creator position is approximately $45,916 annually. Pay is affected by significant factors, such as education, certifications, as well as experience.
Learning the Skills
It can often seem like the time it takes to learn the skills of a good author is disproportionate to the payment that these skills can earn. Some authors are compelled to do it anyway.
Some people are just naturally good at writing because they are interested in it and know there are always ways to improve. To be a good author, you must continually learn and practice your skills.
Anyone serious about becoming an author will need to choose how they want to learn. Some form of learning will be necessary to make a good author a better author. You can take two routes, and it is best to take both. The first route will cost you more money, while the other will cost you less. These are formal education and informal education.
Benefits of a Formal Education
A formal education means that you will likely pay for creative writing programs, whether physical or online. There will be areas of study, work, assessment, and some certifications at the end. A creative writing major serves those who love writing most.
Formal training will always be a great idea for anyone seeking professional writing jobs. For those who are genuinely interested in becoming a published author, the benefits speak for themselves.
- Knowing the authors and their literary works that you did not know about
- Networking with writers
- Receiving regular and meaningful feedback on your work
- Training your skills and habits in meeting deadlines
- Making you a better writer
For anyone who wants to start a writing career, having a qualified certification in your field will always give you an edge. Professional writers sometimes have to look professional on paper first, and certification generally proves that a person has a certain amount of knowledge and ability in the field.
Some Formal Education
One could probably only achieve formal education because they are financially capable and genuinely interested in writing. Also, formal education is more of “it is what it is.” You only learn what is being taught, and you still need to dive into the water yourself.
Benefits of an Informal Education
Let us be honest. The internet today has largely democratized knowledge. You can find tutorials on nearly anything online and videos about the same topics on various websites.
The internet is saturated with information that can teach you to become an author in a very modern context. Some of the benefits of informal education are:
- Free or very affordable
- Easily accessible
- Widely available
- No end date
- Consistently new material
Some might argue that the internet has made school (and traditional publishing) obsolete, but the decision is yours to make. A combination of the two is the best option for authors who want to get the most out of learning how to improve their creative writing techniques.
While access to information has dramatically been revolutionized in recent years, nothing beats the focus of sitting in a room with other authors and interacting with them in person.
Practice, Practice, and Practice
A writer writes. That seems painfully obvious, but it is a good reminder for any writer who is an expert at deferring their words to the page. To improve one’s writing abilities, one must practice every day. Every successful athlete did not get there by playing video games alone.
You must become familiar with your craft and develop skills that give words new levels of power that you had never considered before. You must learn as much as you can by doing it, and for this, you must practice as much as possible.
You can write poetry, short stories, novellas, or anything you like, but you should practice as much as possible. If you write a novel that you end up hating, that is okay. It was practice for the next one.
Do Not Disregard Previous Experiences
You’ve likely worked in an office for a number of years and wrote emails to your boss daily. Or maybe, you written for a magazine or reviewed website content before. It is important to recognize that your past experiences contribute to your writing experiences.
They are all relevant and helpful to your journey as a writer. Even a published author draws on numerous personal experiences for inspiration.
Business writing, technical writing, or any other writing job helps develop your skills. As you transition to being another kind of author, use whatever skills you have gained in the past to your benefit.
Literary effects, word limits, and understanding multiple writing formats are all experiences you can pull into your career as an author. This experience can also help you present yourself as a professional writer.
How To Become An Author: 8 Best Author Habits You Must Know And Learn
1. Set Goals
This is not a scientific measurement and will vary from person to person, but writing breaks it down to something like this:
- 15% idea
- 15% skills
- 70% discipline (butt in the seat and actually writing!)
If you want to be a successful writer, you must begin your writing habit now. Whether you intend to write short stories or a full-length novel, to become a writer, you need to set goals for yourself every day (or the days that you can) and do your best to meet those goals as early as you can.
Some writers write in the morning (a 3-hour run is a great goal!) and edit in the afternoon, you need to find what works for you.
Schedule your writing time and set boundaries. Discuss your writing schedule with your family or build it into your life elsewhere and protect it so you can complete what needs to be done.
There are times that it will not work out, which is normal. The important thing is that you are doing your best to stick with your schedule and boundaries. These fallbacks may also be something you will write about someday.
3. Pre-empt Procrastination
Plan to avoid distractions. Turn off your phone or leave it out of reach. Turn off your internet or data connection if needed. Productivity is hampered when you get distracted by a sudden notification from your phone.
4. Take Breaks
It is always good to take a break—this is not the same as procrastination. A break is when you have accomplished something and need to move your body physically. Or, if you are stuck somewhere in writing, it is good to take a break.
Authors who write for hours may end up suffering from it later, either from hand or back pain. It is also possible that they will feel exhausted and run out of ideas.
So do not leave yourself in a sedentary position for too long. Your blood must flow, and you must take a break to maintain your focus. The writing process is not so stringent that breaks are not allowed.
5. Go For Walks
Walking through a different environment rather than pacing in your writing space will affect how you think about and see things. It will clear your mind and change your perspective, allowing you to explore more leading to better ideas.
Physical barriers often surround us in all directions. Find a horizon and look out into another world. It will also help with the physical activity you need. Remember, a strong body is a strong mind. A clear mind helps in the writing process.
You do not need to work out to be a fantastic author. But the benefits of exercise, including blood flow, muscle strength, and mental clarity, all give apparent assistance to your thought and work process, as well as your overall well-being.
You do not need to run a marathon. Simple walking and hiking are enough, and of course, you can be more rigorous if you enjoy it. Do not forget to keep yourself hydrated.
7. Use Your Time
Your writing time is finite and precious. Make sure you are using that time to get your work done.
If you are consistently procrastinating, you may not be ready to write yet. Continue writing even if it is gibberish on the page. It will keep you in the habit of committing to writing.
If needed, go for a walk and get your ideas moving. Keep making your time productive.
8. Never Give Up
It is a cliche you hear from every successful person, but it is a cliche because it is a fundamental truth.
In the face of doubt, negativity, distraction, and times of hopelessness, never give up on your plans, your dreams. You have a goal, so face the challenges you encounter along the way and learn from every experience.
Find a way to enjoy the struggles and adventures in the world of writing. Use your experiences to hone your creative writing skills. Do what you can to see your plan and dream turn into a reality.
Every successful person says that you should never give up because they never did, and they made it to where they wanted to be. It is sound advice if you want to pursue your dream of becoming a published author.
Any good author worth their salt knows the importance of editing. When you have put so much work into something, the importance of editing can never be underestimated. Editing is where magic comes to light.
Some Honesty about First Drafts
First drafts are mammoth accomplishments. Whether it is a poem or a play, completing something to a point where one can exhale and say, “well, that’s the start of it,” is a fantastic accomplishment.
Although it is not the start, it is the beginning of your work with a completed manuscript.
Since it is the first draft, it will need many corrections. If you think it does not, believe us, it does. You will need to go back and check for consistency, spelling, sentence structures and make sure that what you have written makes sense, and there is so much more.
Editing Is a Fact of Life for an Author
It generally takes an enormous amount of work to complete the first draft, and if you have committed so much passion to this project, you must give it justice with proper editing. That is where your work will start to shine.
Think of it like metalwork. Once you cut your pieces, shape them, then get them welded together, the project is not finished yet. The work must be corrected, smoothened, buffered, and polished into a shiny and eye-catching piece.
You must do it with your own work, too.
Through the editing process, you can add more accurate character details, subplots, foreshadowing, improve plot details, fix inconsistencies and errors, and make your story the best version of itself.
In most ways, editing is where the craft of writing begins. The more you edit, the stronger your work can be until you have edited so thoroughly that it comes down to whether or not a comma belongs in one spot.
There Is a Finish Line
There comes a time when you must complete the project. It can take a lot of experience to know when this is, but sometimes it is best to listen to your gut.
If the story or work has accomplished what you set out to do, and you have made an unquestionable commitment to ensuring that it is the best possible version, then it may be ready and your dream to be a published author is within reach.
If you have friends, family, or test readers, ask them to read what you have written and ask for feedback. You will not use all of it, and you do not have to.
Appreciate all the feedback you will receive, even the negative ones. Use the suggested edits and feedback you have gathered to improve your work.
Criticisms are valuable, so do not let your ego get in the way of keeping yourself and your story from growing.
If you feel that your group may not have the skills needed to give helpful feedback, you may need to consider finding a writing community where you can ask other writers to critique what you have written.
There are many groups or communities of writers helping each other online. Use what you will receive from test readers. You will know what is helpful and what is not.
Be grateful for it because even if you are not yet a published author, these people read your work and took the time to help you improve your craft.
There seems to be nothing left to do
You are probably done if you think and feel there is nothing left to do. Unless someone insightful, like an agent or publisher, gives you feedback. It is probably a good idea, though not guaranteed, to take their input.
There is never really a finish line
Sometimes as writers we don’t ever feel fully satisfied with our writing and continually feel like it can use more tweaking. If you ever feel like this, stop it.
What is done is done when it has been done. Choose to trust your gut and those around you. Once the writing is completed, move on to your next novel.
However, if there is genuinely more to the story, not just additional edits, you may decide to write a sequel.
How to become an author and publish your work?
If you started to be an author without the intent of ever showing anyone your work or publishing it, then you are unique. Most authors would like to see their work published to share their talent and allow other people to enjoy their work.
There is a sense of accomplishment and pride when other people read your work. It is a goal that most writers would love to reach.
Nowadays, an author can publish the traditional way or self publish on many online platforms. In this modern era, writing and reading have become more accessible since the invention of the printing press, which is often considered the greatest invention of all time.
Many authors have taken great advantage of self publishing and have thriving online careers without formal representation from an agent or publisher. The internet gave incredible new opportunities to authors in any part of the world with a wide-scale audience that no one ever thought was possible.
You may consider two routes when publishing your work—traditional and online.
You may look for a literary agent to help you approach publishers or studios, or you may look for a traditional publisher you can work with directly. Either way, your work has to impress someone and keep in mind that the competition is fierce.
Do not let competition or any form of rejection discourage you. Believe in yourself, be bold in your work, and be creative in your approach.
There are pros and cons to pursuing traditional publishing. This list is not complete but might give some ideas or insights.
- Agents and publishers know the industry and can help you reach a higher level of success.
- Having an agent in your corner will help you find the right publisher for you. They are paid when you are successful, so they have a vested interest in helping you to succeed.
- Agents can help negotiate deals across many potential mediums and can help negotiate better deals for authors.
- Having an agent will alert a publisher that someone in the industry thinks your work is good. Some publishers or studios would never consider a manuscript unless an agent represented it.
- Having an agent also means that someone believes in you—a good form of validation.
- Highly exclusive. You have to know your craft and be good at it as soon as you enter the door.
- Writing letters, queries, samples, and so on can take an endless amount of time.
- You can spend a great deal of time pursuing an agent or a publisher, and it might lead you to nowhere.
- You will get some responses, but it will usually take a very long time.
- It takes a great deal of time to research and know which literary agents may represent you or which publishers will be interested in your manuscript.
Knowing all these, it is still worthwhile to pursue traditional publishing as long as you do your research and are sure about sending your submissions to the right people.
Finding an Agent
Be very selective and make every effort to approach a unique literary agent based on your research. Do not approach more than one agent at a time at any single agency.
Some will expect exclusive submissions, so you are not currently sending it to or negotiating with other agents. Some request that you disclose that you are sending out multiple submissions.
Every agent is different, so make sure you research and know what they expect from you.
If an agent does not represent cat books, do not send them cat books. If the publishing company does not publish cookbooks, do not send them cookbooks.
It will only waste everyone’s time.
Be prepared to spend a long time on this process. Never give up, and keep searching every corner on the internet for an agent or traditional publisher who can help you.
There are endless platforms available in the modern era and soon to exist where writers can explore self-publishing. With self-publishing, you forgo dealing with the gatekeepers of the traditional industry, and you get your work straight to your readers as soon as you are ready to share your work.
The process of publishing your own work and getting it out to thousands, if not millions, of people has never been easier than before. As time and technology change, so is the nature of publishing.
There are incredible amounts of authors creating material and publishing it straight to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, many other online platforms.
- Complete control of your creativity and your income.
- You can spend your energy promoting your work instead of tailoring agent letters.
- You have a potential edge in the future of publishing.
- You are responsible for every aspect of your success and failure.
- You will likely need to acquire new skills beyond being an author, which might take time.
- If you are not good at marketing, you will need to outsource.
Your Skills Will Need to Go Well beyond Writing
When you self publish, you will be responsible for every aspect of your publication.
Now that it is finally completed and ready for an audience, you will need to switch gears from author to publisher and marketer.
People will need to know about your book if they will read it. You will also need to find your target audience.
If it seems daunting, there is an endless amount of online content to help you learn to do all of these things. It is worth your time to research and learn from this material because it is an avenue to success.
Many self-published authors do well on these platforms, and each has secrets and success stories. The common ground these trained authors have is that they present their work in front of as many people as possible and regularly produce content.
It is an excellent opportunity to be an author. It is a skill that is more accessible now than ever before. Getting your work out there is within reach because of of the tools available to self publish. So if you are thinking about becoming an author, do it.
Whether you are interested in creative, business, or short story writing, there is room for you in the industry. There is an incredible amount of work available to writers who are willing to work online.
The demand for content is continuously rising. Any aspect of writing has possibilities, from copy and business writing to creative writing.
Also, there are many easily accessible writer communities out there, which can be a great support system for you. You can learn the process from people like yourself and share insider tips on how to improve your game.
The most important reality an aspiring author should know is that a writer writes—nothing more, nothing less. If you want to become a published author, begin your journey by adopting the habits of writing.