Have you ever read through a book that truly spoke to you? Maybe you got so wrapped up in the story that you lost yourself reading for hours, or perhaps it changed the way you thought about something. If this sounds familiar, you might have thought about how to become an author yourself.
Writing a book in addition to becoming an author is something that many people aspire to do, but it isn’t an easy career. However, it can be incredibly fulfilling, as you’ll have the chance to get your ideas out into the world and change people’s lives.
Based on popular questions about authors, this guide will: Explain how to become an author, how to get your book published, and even the usual amount of money writers make.
Types of authors
Before learning how to become a published author, you need to decide what type of things you’ll write. Here are some examples.
Fiction books are usually stories that are made up. It isn’t true, and it’s generally for entertainment. Many people enjoy reading fiction as a fun escape from the day-to-day or to follow a great story.
There are many types of fiction authors; Examples include romance, science fiction, adventure, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, etc. Fiction books are usually written as novels or short stories compiled into a book.
Poems are pieces of writing that follow a pattern and sometimes, though not always, rhyme. They usually require thought to decipher as their meanings may not be very straightforward.
A poet writes poetry, and some poets have gone on to write whole books of their poetry, though you may also write a short piece of poetry.
Academic writing is very straightforward and wants to teach the readers something by using facts. It is simply to describe and help people understand, making it very different from poetry or novels. Examples include textbooks and research books.
Non-fiction is writing that is true. It can be about someone’s life or a specific topic. There are several different forms of non-fiction; here are some popular ones.
A biography recalls the events of someone’s life. It is written by someone other than the person described in the book. You can write a biography about anyone, but often they are written about famous people.
An autobiography is a similar piece of writing. It’s a biography but written by the person described in the book. It discusses their point of view about their own life.
This is a topic that you can write a book about. A book about business may discuss how to start your own business, tips about running a company, or some other aspect of this subject.
A self-help book gives advice to the reader about how to better themselves. They can discuss various topics about life, such as relationships or mindsets.
A finance book talks about money. Things like investing, budgeting, or coming up with a financial plan are all things you could discuss in a finance book.
How to become an author
Are you ready to start writing and focus on becoming an author? Here are some tips that can help you get started.
1. Develop an author mindset
Whether you want to publish a written book or an audiobook, or both, it’s essential to have the right attitude when you’re working on a big project. You’ll need to develop patience, as taking on something like this may have its challenges and require you to stay determined even when it’s complicated.
To develop a good author mindset, decide in advance how you will react to problems. It's likely you'll encounter problems along the way, from finding an agent to finishing that last chapter of writing.
To be successful, you need to determine ahead of time that you will remain positive, that you won’t quit, and that you will lean on your support system if needed. We’ll talk about all this in more detail soon.
2. Learn the skills you need
There are specific skills you need to be a good writer. You don’t have to be perfect at writing right away, as it takes time, but it’s important to practice your skills so you can use them when writing your book.
These skills are, of course, writing, but also research and editing.
You can develop the skill of writing by taking on some short-term work writing blog posts or articles. Or by setting aside time each day to write your ideas. After this becomes a habit, you may get pretty good at it.
Research skills are also necessary when writing a book. You must know how to find the information you need by searching sources online, in print, or by talking with people if it requires a first-hand account of the story.
Editing is also important. After you write, you should look back over it and make changes. This may start with spelling and grammar but also includes tone and the structure of your writing.
There are also some great books you can leverage for new authors!
3. Set a schedule
Even though it might be challenging to get into a routine, becoming an author requires setting a schedule for your writing.
Aim for the same time every day or for a set number of hours per day or week. Plan this time in advance, and don’t let anything interrupt your writing time.
Some people prefer to write first thing in the morning when their house is quiet, or they’re most alert. Others may find that it makes more sense for them to write after work or in the evening.
Do what works for you. Just ensure you’re hitting the number of hours of writing you want.
4. Be disciplined
Setting a schedule and figuring out how to become an author is the easy part. Continuing to write, even when it’s difficult, requires discipline.
You can do this by setting agreements with yourself (“I will write for one hour every day”) and then sticking to it.
You might even start this on a smaller scale, say, writing for five minutes a day and then building up to more significant commitments.
5. Pursue creativity
When you want to become an author, it’s important to stay inspired. Try to do this by thinking in new ways, writing in different places, or hearing others’ life experiences.
You should look for ways to be creative and know that some days you may feel more creative than others. But if you keep looking for inspiration, you’ll find it over time.
You may find that you feel inspired in certain places or after reading a great book or seeing an interesting movie. Find what makes you feel creative, and try to add more of it into your life.
6. Write your first book
After you’ve set a schedule, been disciplined, looked for creativity, and gained some experience writing, learning how to become an author becomes easier. You’re finally ready to write your first book!
Writing a book is a massive task requiring much effort and time. But here are a couple of steps you can follow.
- Outline your book
- Write the first rough draft
Doing these two things are the best place to start. You can write your outline by deciding on the setting and characters and then writing some details of what will happen in each chapter. You’ll also need to do research to make sure your facts are accurate.
After outlining, you can write your rough draft. Remember, they call it a rough draft for a reason - it doesn’t need to be perfect. Just get your ideas out there, and then you can move to the next step.
7. Edit your first book
After you write your first draft of your book, you’ll need to edit your work. Editing can really improve the quality of your writing, so feel free to edit and then edit again.
Editing your book is essentially going over what you've written to fix errors, improve, expand or reduce content and essentially create a body of work you are proud of.
You could also outsource your editing process if you feel you need some extra guidance.
A developmental editor could be a great person to provide feedback. They essentially go over the structure and direction of your book and highlight gaps or suggestions to help you improve it.
8. Get feedback from the right people
When you’ve written your book and edited it, you can then get some feedback on your book.
Get honest and constructive feedback from friends and also people in the literary world, if you know anyone. Ideally, you want to understand what they felt reading your book if they found it interesting or if it took them a while to read if they enjoyed the flow, etc.
After this, you can edit your writing again(or work with an editor), taking anything new you’ve learned into account.
9. Get your book published
Now for the exciting part, getting your book published! There are a few steps involved in this process.
First, you need to get an agent for your book. Your agent will represent you as you get your book published.
You should first research to find a literary agent that will be a good fit for you and your book. You can do this by searching for the agent for books that you own, or you can also look online.
When you find the right person, submit a query letter. Your query letter is a short letter to the agent explaining your book idea and a bit about you. You should definitely practice writing query letters before sending them out to agents.
Your query letter should be interesting and get an agent to notice your book. After that, they may request to read your book and then could accept it. It’s a process, so be patient.
Your agent will then help you find a publisher for your work. Then they’ll help you negotiate a deal with a publisher. This is a huge step in how to become a published author.
If you want to go the alternate route, you can self-publish. Some people want to do this because they get to keep more of the royalties. If you choose to do this, you can use a self-publishing company.
Some popular ones include Apple Books and Barnes and Noble Press. Be sure to do your research if you choose this option.
10. Start marketing your book
Although publishing houses have marketers, you will still need to promote your book. And this is especially true if you choose to self-publish.
Make sure your website is up to date, and you can create a strategy to let your social media followers know about your book.
You must advertise consistently because you need sales for your book to be a success, so don’t skip this step. As a rule of thumb, if you sell 5,000 copies or more in a week from diverse sources, your book will be considered a bestseller.
How much can you earn as an author?
While you likely decided to write a book because you had a great idea or something to say, you still need to make a profit for it to be worth it. The amounts you can make from a book vary. The average author earns about $41,000 a year.
For authors with publishers, typically, you’ll make between 5-25% of royalties, but self-publishers can make as much as 70%.
That said, when it comes to author earnings, it's very important that you negotiate any book contracts or publishing terms. Learn more about how authors get paid.
You’ve published your first book! What do you do now that you've learned how to become an author?
First of all, celebrate! A book is a huge accomplishment. After all, writing a book can generally take between ½ a year and a whole year to write. So take a little time off and enjoy the fact that you created something that others can now purchase and read.
After you celebrate, it’s time to figure out what to do next. You may take some time off writing to work on other projects. If your book did well or you have another idea, you may choose to write a second book.
Whatever you do, continue to promote your first book as you figure out your next step.
You can learn how to become an author
Even if you’ve never written so much as a page before, you can learn how to become an author with time and practice.
If there's a story you want to tell and you can train yourself to be disciplined and patient, you will be able to achieve this dream. And you can use this guide on how to become a published author to help you on your journey.
To find out more about writing your first book, read our article on key tips for first-time authors.