Millions of people are keen on writing but going from dilettante to published author can be intimidating. There is an established opinion that so much effort goes into becoming a professional writer – from brainstorming book ideas to developing sustainable writing habits, pitching your book draft to literary agents and getting on the radar of a publishing company.
In reality, trying to complete everything at once would throw even the most ambitious writers off balance. But if you approach the process strategically, taking it a step at a time, it makes it a realistic goal to achieve. The key is to develop and stick to a plan no matter how big your writing dreams are!
If you are passionate about writing or have pronounced talent for it, you have probably considered the career of an author. So, is writing a viable career for you?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for writers and authors was $63,200 in May 2019.
This is the median amount so that’s not to say that you can’t make a decent living as an author. The author’s salary may also vary depending on book genres and the type of author you want to become.
Based on the Statista report, “in the first half of 2018, unit sales of adult nonfiction books in the self-help category in the United States stood almost eight million, and over 8.3 million books centered around cooking or entertaining were sold in the country in that time period. The top-selling category was religion, followed by reference books and general nonfiction”.
Now that you have some insight on what authors make, it’s time to immerse yourself in the process.
Basically, there are two types of education you can get: formal and informal. Investing efforts in a degree plays a great role in the career of a writer. Whatever you choose, there is one rule – writers need to write.
If a bachelor’s degree is vital for you, consider degrees in English with an emphasis in writing or creative writing, journalism, history, psychology or any other subject you’d love to write about.
Informal education includes development of a writer’s professional skills: creative storytelling, exceptional writing, discipline and grit. For this purpose, there are many online educational platforms and courses that exist specifically for aspiring authors.
Coursera. Choose any writing program or course to grasp the basics of writing.
Udemy. You can find cost-effective micro-courses based on specific topics around writing and publishing.
MasterClass. There are courses from world-renowned authors like Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman and others.
Along with practicing writing, authors need to read a lot – great writers are great readers. Here’s a list of 12 encouraging books every writer should read.
Surprisingly, to become a great writer you need to … write!
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Before you can create profound work, you have to hone your craft.
Start a blog on your favorite topic. Send newsletters. Write articles for newspapers, magazines, online publishing platforms, etc. Have a diary. Write, write, write.
If you’re on this step – congratulations! Whether it’s due to procrastination or fear, a great number of writers don’t get this far!
To be successful, stick to a plan.
Procrastination is afraid of precise plans, so establishing a writing schedule is a must-have time-management technique that boosts your productivity in all forms.
One of the insights from the book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King is the importance of a daily writing habit. Follow these steps to develop a sustainable writing habit.
Sustaining motivation is powerful for writers. A book takes time, and burnout is common. Those 3k-4k word days will quickly evolve into weeks where nothing is accomplished.
The best means around this is to commit to a minimum word count for every writing day and stick with it. Setting daily goals and achieving them will be just the right amount of structure to keep you going.
Have you noticed how amazing is the human brain? It functions 24/7 from the day you’re born and only stops when you sit to do some writing.
Spending time on your outline is one of the most effective ways to jot down your key talking points and avoid writer’s block.
Think about your major insights or plot points, and jot those down as well. The goal is to give yourself a map you can follow all the way to the finish — to avoid hitting a wall and getting sidetracked.
Through blood, sweat, and tears, you’ve officially become a writer.
The last step is to have your book published for the world to see!
Young authors usually face a dilemma on how to publish a book. There are two ways to do it traditional publishing and self-publishing.
2020 has changed the publishing industry forever. The long-term effects of the pandemic have not been determined; however we are already watching the preponderance of self-publishing.
In this article we’ll focus on self-publishing and its benefits.
Self-publishing is an act of publishing work without a traditional publisher. In other words, you’re fully in charge and have complete freedom over your work.
This approach has a number of benefits:
No gatekeeper. With self-publishing, you’re fully in charge and have freedom of action. No permission or approval from other people needed.
It’s quicker. Self-publishing allows you to have a book released as soon as it is ready. It’s up to you to decide when you want to publish.
Creative freedom. You do not have to meet the requirements of multiple parties, including editors, marketers, and designers typical in traditional publishing companies.
High royalties. Set your own price for work you’ve created. With self-publishing platforms you can earn royalties of 35% and higher.
Sky's the limit! Self-publishing offers endless opportunities for career growth. You can keep writing and self-publishing as many books as you want!
To stay ahead of the curve, it is great to know the best self-publishing companies of 2020.
It’s more important to do your research and understand which self-publishing companies can actually help you publish a book that’s high quality, without running your investment dry and selling you empty promises.
Pricing: Free to upload
Royalties: from 35%
Print or eBook? Both + Audiobook
Amazon’s Kindle store makes it easy for authors looking to find new readers by self-publishing on the Kindle platform.
You can upload and submit your book to Amazon for review in under 10 minutes for free and it will be live on the world's largest online marketplace within 24-48 hours.
Amazon has two memberships for self-publishing authors: Amazon KDP (KDP) and Amazon KDP Select (KDPS).
Amazon KDP is non-exclusive. You’re free to sell your book on other eBook retailers, as well as Amazon Kindle. KDP royalties = 35%.
Amazon KDP Select requires you grant Amazon exclusive distribution rights for your Kindle books. You can’t sell your eBook on Apple, Google Play, Nook or any other retailer platforms or your own website. KDPS royalties = 70% (when meets some requirements).
✅ The largest online publishing platform: you have more access to global markets and selling opportunities
✅ Publish in digital and print for free
✅ Variety of available book genres to publish
❌ The largest online publishing platform: high competition, your book will be one of thousands in same genres
❌ Limits to the content you share: you cannot post more than 10% of your content anywhere else online
❌ Royalties do not include file delivery costs - 15c per megabyte
❌ Free books w/KDPS - 5 days per quarter, w/o KDPS - not available
Pricing: Free to upload
Royalties: from 50%
Print or eBook? Both
LiveCarta is an innovative next generation publishing platform for developing and distributing books and multimedia materials. Beyond just publishing for authors, it offers features for educators and learners.
LiveCarta opens new opportunities and provides a fully flexible experience for:
Authors: write and publish books whenever you’re ready, get high royalties, select your control options;
Educators/Coaches/Professors: have an extension of your classroom online, bundle content together, produce customized versions of books;
Learners: learn anywhere and anytime using the digital library, study tools and even sell your notes.
✅ No third-party ads
✅ No limitations on offering free books to customers
✅ Exclusivity is not required
✅ No file delivery fees
❌ Available for iOS and macOS users only
❌ The Book Store on Apple Books accepts books up to 2GB for publication
Pricing: Free to upload
Print or eBook? eBook
Apple Books is an e-book reading and store application by Apple Inc. for its iOS and macOS operating systems and devices.
Apple Books provides a platform called iBooks Author for self-publishing authors to create, design, publish and promote their books.
Lulu is an online print-on-demand, self-publishing, and distribution platform. They retail books through their own bookstore as well as distribute to other online stores (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.) and book distributors (Barnes & Noble and Ingram).
eBook conversion, publishing, and distribution services are free, but they sell an array of support services including editing, cover design, and book marketing.
Lulu’s pricing model you can find here.
✅ Affordable printing costs
✅ High-quality print books and materials
✅ Free ISBN provided**
✅ Quick global shipping
❌ Lack of customer support
❌ Pricey publishing services (don’t confuse this with the printing costs!)
❌ Contradictory users’ reviews
*Sold through the Lulu Bookstore. Distribution to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, etc. may affect royalties.
**Note: If you published your book using a free Lulu ISBN, you must obtain a new ISBN if you choose to publish your book with another publisher/distributor.
Royalties: eBook - 40-65%, Print - up to 55%
Print or eBook? Both
Barnes & Noble Press is a free, fast, and easy-to-use self-publishing service that enables you to publish and sell print or eBooks directly to millions of readers.
Whether you’re a seasoned or first-time author, or you simply want to print a beautiful book for personal use, Barnes & Noble Press helps you create your book, your way.
✅ Free to upload
✅ Partnered programs for editorial, cover design, marketing solutions, etc.
✅ A book can be set for 0$
✅ BNP is a book retailer
❌ Books published with Barnes & Noble Press retail only at their online and physical bookstores
❌ BNP is a book retailer
Now that you know all the fundamentals of becoming a writer.
As you research how to become an author, one thing becomes clear: it’s a process that takes time, dedication, and some serious effort.
But nothing worth having comes easy.
Even successful J. K. Rowling was rejected with “Harry Potter” 12 times!
Remember – anything is possible with passion and perseverance.