How do I Become an Author?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 April 2017
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It may be the easiest thing in the world to become an author, and also the most challenging experience. Anyone can author a poem, a story, a piece of fiction or non-fiction, but the question remains as to whether people become a known author, actually published or truly recognized. The two things aren’t always the same, and though it’s easy to give lots of tips on authoring, becoming a well-known author requires talent, persistence and luck.

First it may be wise to consider what skills an author must possess. Anyone who would like to become an author should have strong writing skills. Being able to work within deadlines and to be a self-starter and stay motivated when no one is supervising are valuable too. Obviously, strong critical reading skills are important. It’s difficult to know what good writing is if the author can’t recognize it in works by other people.

Some authors don’t have formal education, but many of them do. Most people may start on the path to become an author by taking lots of classes in literature and in writing. Authors can work in numerous genres, so it’s a good idea to explore several of these: short stories, poetry, non-fiction prose, fiction, biography, and personal essay. As people study these, often at the college level, they usually get a sense of which types of writing fit them. Maybe they are born poets, or suited to writing about the lives of others, for instance.

There are several degrees that can be earned for people who are studying to become an author. These include degrees in creative writing or literature at the bachelor’s degree level. Some people take a degree in a completely unrelated subject. People may also earn master of fine arts degrees in creative writing. The master’s degree is well worth it if a potential author feels he is not quite ready to launch his career. Others find this degree superfluous, since they are already writing a great deal.

What does seem to be valuable when a person wants to become an author is that they begin submitting work as soon as they can. Colleges often have short fiction publications which may be a good place to start, but people living in the US and Canada should also invest in a current Writer’s Digest so they can begin to submit their work elsewhere. Sadly, most authors will need to get used to rejection, as they’re likely to encounter it with many submissions. The true author will soldier on, in spite of these, continuing to submit and work on new material until acceptances start occurring.

Since authorship can be something of a risky career, it may also be wise to study something related to its field that can provide a steady income. People might work in journalism, publishing, editing or other fields where jobs are slightly easier to find. Most people won’t become an author who is known unless they keep writing, and as they get more work published, they should begin to look for a literary agent. These people may be able to take an author’s work much farther, bringing it to the attention of major publishers.

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browncoat
Post 3

The best thing you can do if you want to be a writer is check out a good writer's forum, or join a writer's group. If you have any illusions about writing, they will quickly set you right. And they can help you on your way to become a published author.

In particular you should participate in critiquing other people's work. If you can learn what the common mistakes are and how to recognize them (which is much easier when looking at another person's work) you will be ahead of most of the other people out there who are also looking to get published.

And there are a lot of people who want to get published.

irontoenail
Post 2

You do have to practice a lot, but there are things to beware of once you are ready to start submitting. While most contests charge a reading fee, always check up on them to make sure they are genuine. And never pay anyone to look at your novel manuscript. There are a lot of scams out there that prey on people desperate to get their work published.

They will publish you (often for a price!), but then just expect you to buy your own book and sell it out of the boot of your car (and that's if you're lucky).

If you are genuinely ready to start looking for a publisher, you should first research as much as possible on the process. And you should also probably try to get an agent, as that will help you to get a foot in the door.

Mor
Post 1

They say that in order to become a true master of a particular skill, whether it is playing a musical instrument, or acting, or playing a sport, you need to invest at least 10,000 hours of practice. Writing books is no different. Many authors say that they have been writing since they were children, and almost all of them say that they have been reading since then. Reading and writing are the two best things you can do to become an author.

There is no other way to become good at anything worth doing, except to practice.

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