Does this sound familiar?
Writing and publishing a book is your dream. It’s the career you’ve always wanted, and you want to get your story out there right. now.
There’s only one problem – you have no idea where to start. Thinking about all the hoops you have to jump through is overwhelming.
Not to mention, then there’s the task of actually writing a whole book.
Slow down and take a deep breath; we have good news.
It’s actually quite easy to learn how to become an author!
Even better news: we have a bestseller’s ultimate guide with step-by-step instructions and all the tips you need to get started. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Step 1: Improve Your Skills
You may already be an established writer, blogger, or journalist. Maybe you’ve been published by magazines and websites and have a big following. People love reading your stuff! Or maybe you’ve never written anything close to that – or ever – and just decided to make the leap and follow your dreams.
Either way, you need to practice. Yes, we’ve seen people who’ve never written anything a day in their life write once and publish a million-dollar bestseller, but it’s extremely rare. That’s why they become such big news.
Instead, take the time to practice and improve your skills. Keep blogging (or start a blog), read a lot of books for inspiration, and start small. You didn’t try to sprint before you learned to crawl, right?
And the same concept applies to writing.
There’s also plenty of online training classes you can take if you don’t want to rely on practicing on your own.
Step 2: Network
One of the best ways to get started is by immersing yourself into a writing community. Connecting with other authors is a great way to get the support that you need in your journey because they’ve already been there, or are right there with you.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a local group of writers. There are also tons of online writing communities that offer guidance, advice, and support to each other. Seasoned members can show you how to become an author based on their own experiences as well.
You also want to build a following. Writers that already have fans are more attractive to publishing agents and it will always work in your favor; if, however, self-publishing interests you, then it’s good to have a following of interested readers built up! Plus, it can help show you where your strengths are in certain topics and narrow down what you want your book to be about, which brings us to the next step.
Step 3: Make a Plan
Now that you’ve practiced and made some new connections, it’s time to devise a plan. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) wing it by writing about the first thing that comes to mind.
Some authors do fly by the seat of their pants, and that works for them; that approach to writing is called being a ‘discovery writer’. However, if you’re not comfortable with the idea of just winging it, then making a plan makes it more likely that you’ll finish your book.
Create an Outline
Every draft should start with an outline. Figuring out what kind of story you want to write and breaking it down into specifics makes the actual writing part easier.
- Set the stage: What is the central idea of your book? What point are you trying to get across? What picture are you trying to paint? If somebody asks what your story is about and you can’t answer the question in a sentence or two, take a step back and really focus on this.
You also want to ask yourself – why? Specifically, why do you want to write this story?
- Cast characters and set scenes: You can’t have a story without characters; they make or break your book. Figure out exactly who you want in your story, give them a personality and write down what role they’ll play. How will they make readers feel?
Plan the settings: time, place, details of each chapter. Put them in order to make sure everything flows.
- Troubleshoot: Now that you have the basics in order, go back and make sure it all fits together. You don’t want a misplaced character or scene that interrupts the story. If it doesn’t flow, it doesn’t grow!
Make a Schedule
You can’t become an author if you don’t make time to write. Whether you’re working another job or already have full-time availability, a writing schedule is crucial.
Creating a consistent writing schedule that fits into your schedule can be hard- we get it. It takes a lot of discipline and it might seem impossible to find the time, but securing even 6 hours a week to do your writing will go a long way and help you get your book done.
Step 3: Write Your Book
You came here to learn how to become an author and have probably been wondering when we’d get to the good part, so let’s get to it!
Writing a book will be a fulfilling accomplishment. It’s not an easy feat, and you’ve done all the groundwork to get here. The actual writing part is a lot easier than practicing and planning.
All you need to do is stick to your schedule and follow your outline. It’s that simple.
That’s not to say you’ll piece everything together seamlessly. You’ll get stuck from time to time, and that’s okay. Think about the tone you want to set for your readers. Get a sense of the narrative and don’t worry about the length. Focus on the details.
Once you get everything down, it’s time to edit. It’s all about revisiting and refining what you write. You don’t want any spelling or grammar mistakes when you bring it to a publisher. It’s also how you’ll reword, rearrange, and cut things out that aren’t needed.
Editing is the hardest part. It might be a good idea to outsource for a fresh pair of eyes on your work. Once you’ve made all the corrections and feel like your book is at its absolute best, take it to a publisher.
Step 4: Publish Your Book
You have two options to publish your book. You can either use an agent, or you can self-publish.
Anyone can learn how to become an author and self-publish their book, but the expenses that come with it, particularly for paperbacks – production, marketing, design, distribution, and storage – you are responsible for. Those costs can add up fast if you are not careful, and learning how to self-publish can be a very stressful process. On a positive note, you also keep more of the royalties earned when your book sells, and you retain more control over your work.
Going to a publisher as a first-time author can be ideal for you, but it depends on what your goals are. It’s a common method used, and you’re not liable for the publishing costs. If they like what they see, they’ll offer you a contract stating what retailers you can use to sell your book and the royalties you want. (NOTE: Publishers pay you, not the other way around. If a ‘publisher’ asks you for money, that’s not a publisher – that’s what is known as a ‘vanity press.’ Remember, in a traditional publishing agreement, money flows TO, not FROM, the author.)
If you opt to try submitting to a publisher, you might face rejection at first – it’s a competitive business – but don’t let that break you. Sometimes you’ll have to submit your work to multiple agents before you find the one. Take it as an opportunity to improve, not a failure.
You’ve just learned the basics of how to become an author! Now you’ll be able to hone your skills, follow your dreams, and become an accomplished writer.
Just follow the steps in this bestseller’s guide and check back whenever you need some help. It’ll take hard work, but it’ll be worth it!
You can promote your book at pillow talk books.
What are you waiting for? Get out there and write!