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How to Become an Author: 8 Steps to Bestselling Success

POSTED ON Feb 7, 2024

Angelica Hartgers

Written by Angelica Hartgers

Wondering how to become an author? Well, that answer will depend on the type of author you want to be.

Maybe you’ve always been a writer at heart, and are ready to share your story with the world and earn the title of “author.”

Or maybe you’re passionate about a certain topic and are ready to help others by sharing your expertise.

Regardless of your reason – the issue still stands: you want to know how to become an author of a book and a bestselling one at that. So what is an author anyway? And how does becoming an author work?

To learn how to become an author, the short answer is: You write a book.

Sounds simple, right?  

But writing is rarely simple. So, let’s go for the more complex dilemma: How to become an author of a book that actually gets read .

You want to author a book that’s phenomenal, polished, and packed with content that readers will truly connect with.  So how do you do that?

In this guide, we’ll focus on how to become an author of a book that sells . But before we dive into the steps on how to become an author, it's important you understand exactly what an author is.

This Guide to How to Become an Author Will Cover:

What does it mean to become an author.

When you learn how to become an author, it means that you ideated, created, and produced a written work, most commonly a book, novel, short story , poem, or other literary work of prose.

Traditionally, an author meant someone who had written a book, and this connotation still stands today, but it has expanded with societal changes. The term author can actually pertain to journalists, essayists, and those in the digital space such as bloggers or article writers.

Writer vs Author

What's the difference between a writer and author , you ask? Great question.

While writer and author are often used interchangeably, there is definitely a difference between the two. An author is a writer, but a writer isn't always an author.

Writer Vs Author

How Hard is it to Become an Author?

While the path of learning how to become an author is easier with today's technology and the rise of self-publishing, learning how to become an author takes determination, hard work, and usually a specific set of skills (which we'll cover more on later).

For some, opportunity comes easier than it does for others. Some people become an author and find quick success, whereas others struggle for years to complete their book and publish it.

For most people, creating a consistent writing routine and actually getting the words written is the hardest part – in which case a book writing coach could be just the person you need in your corner, keeping you motivated and accountable.

It also depends on the book publishing method, which we'll explain more on in the publishing section of this article. For example, traditional publishing deals are hard to come by, and it is a lengthy process. On the other hand, self-publishing makes becoming an author more accessible.

How to Become an Author in 8 Simple Steps

Now that you have a deeper understanding of what being an author entails, it's time to dive into the exact process of how to become an author.

When learning how to become an author, here are the eight steps you should take:

1. Invest in Education

Learning how to become an author doesn't have any formal educational requirements. But at minimum, a high school degree is recommended. Becoming an author mainly requires that you have a strong set of skills, like the ability to read and write well.

When learning how to become an author, having a degree isn't required, but it can help.

There is a wide range of educational levels for authors, from those with a basic high school education to those who have completed doctorate programs. Pursuing a higher formal education degree can certainly help you learn how to become an author, but it's not a requirement.

Whether you get a degree or not, you must be an exceptional writer and avid reader to improve your chances of becoming an author of a book that actually gets read .

Our society values higher education . When you’re exploring new careers, the first question is usually: What kind of education is needed for this job?

So, it isn’t any wonder that people researching how to become an author immediately ask what type of education or credentials are needed to write a book.

A caveat to this: If you’re looking to publish a book on a specific topic , you must be an expert in that field or industry. A college degree helps build your credibility significantly, even though it is not completely necessary.

Common Degrees to Consider for Aspiring Book Writers

  • English . Anyone with a college degree in English has spent the majority of their college career taking classes on writing development and reading literature for deep analysis. Those with an English degree usually have a strong command of writing, and study the works of famous authors.
  • Literature . Similar to a degree in English, a degree in Literature follows the same course syllabus in the sense that it is heavily focused on reading, analyzing, and writing about literary works.
  • Creative Writing . Writers with a degree in Creative Writing have undergone extensive academic courses surrounding creative writing fundamentals and storytelling. Creative Writing students are expected to write rigorously to improve their craft.
  • History . Because history goes hand-in-hand with many literary subjects, those with a degree in History will have a well-rounded skillset to apply as an author.
  • Journalism . Writers with a journalism background are likely educated on news-style writing, features, interview processes, and more. Those with a journalism degree often have experience as newspaper columnists or feature writers, which can translate well into an author career.
  • Psychology . Those who study psychology have an in-depth understanding of human behavior and interaction, which makes for great writing, especially in fiction.
  • Communications . People with a communications degree often have experience in news-writing, marketing, public relations, and more, which are all fields that rely heavily on great writing skills.
  • Theater/Cinema . Those with a theater background make great authors and writers due to their creativity, understanding of character dynamics, and screenwriting skills.
  • Liberal Arts . Any degree in liberal arts is likely to be focused on heavy research and writing – no matter the field. Therefore, a liberal arts degree can set you up well for learning how to become an author.
  • A degree in any subject you want to write about! If you have a particular industry or niche that you want to focus on in your writing, pursue a degree in that! For example, if I could re-do college all over again, I would pursue a minor degree in Women's Studies, because I love to write about those topics.

Alternatives to College Degrees

There are also non-degree online education options for aspiring authors to consider. These are a great choice if you want to learn how to write a book or publish a book on your own. Programs like these are focused on achieving a specific goal, and can be completed at a quicker pace. (Example: Himalayan Writing Retreat )

If you get a traditional college degree, you likely will NOT learn how to write and publish a book. So, if you know for sure that you want to learn how to become an author, you'll save time and money by investing in a course or program that's specific to publishing.

For example, there are many online education programs specifically for aspiring authors, including self-publishing courses.

Be sure to thoroughly do your research to make sure the program is a good fit for your needs.

Online Education Options

  • Self-Publishing Courses . Start here if you want to join an education program that provides a complete roadmap to becoming a bestselling author.
  • Coursera . Consider a program where you can select specific topics to learn about.
  • Udemy . You can find cost-effective micro-courses based on specific topics around writing and publishing.
  • MasterClass . There are limited courses for aspiring authors on this platform, but if you're particularly interested in learning how to improve your writing from bestselling, world-renowned authors like Margaret Atwood, check this out.
  • CreativeLive . Another option for creative courses specific to certain topics around developing certain creative skills.

2. Learn the Skills to Become a Successful Author

While there aren’t any formal education requirements to learn how to become an author of a book, there are certainly some important skills that many successful writers have in common.

Consider these skills like prerequisites – you should aim to improve these skills if you truly want to learn how to become a writer.

In a society of high competition, possessing many of these skills will set you apart and increase your chances of gaining a solid readership.

Skills Needed To Become An Author

The top skills needed to learn how to become an author are:

Exceptional Writing Development Skills

Being an excellent writer who can communicate effectively through words is the premise of learning how to become an author successfully. We’ll cover more on the fundamentals of writing that you should master in the next section, but you can check out these writing websites to learn how to be a better writer.

Creative Storytelling That Engages

It’s an art in itself! Whether you’re writing nonfiction or fiction, no matter what genre your book falls in, you need to be able to craft an engaging story that pulls readers in.

The Ability to Research Well

Ask any successful author, and they will tell you that a major factor in successfully writing a book is to conduct thorough research . You need to know your content in and out – whether you’re writing historical fiction, a children's picture book , or a self-help book.

Since you’re reading this article and researching how to become an author, there’s a good chance you’re already research-savvy!

The Tendency to Naturally Observe People and Places

In order to create life-size characters, make your story come alive, and describe people and events vividly, you need to possess the power of observation. If you’re not one to naturally sit back and watch from the sidelines, try improving your observation skills .

Vulnerability and Grit

Authors put everything they possess into their writing. It takes vulnerability to put your words out there, and resilience to keep at it when the going gets tough. To learn how to become an author, you’ll need to overcome some serious mental blocks, and be courageous even when you’re overworked or fearing judgment.

Skills Needed To Become An Author

3. Master the Fundamentals of Book Writing

Having an excellent command of writing skills builds a solid foundation on which to begin your author journey.

Many people can write, but not many people can write well. And if you can’t write well, that’s okay!

The good news is that there are a number of ways to improve your writing.

YouTube video

Writing isn’t necessarily a talent, it’s a craft. It can be cultivated. It can be strengthened. And with a growth mindset, you can improve your writing skills by mastering the fundamentals.

Some basic examples of the fundamentals of writing are being able to express ideas clearly and in an organized fashion, using powerful word choice , developing a clear point of view , and using proper grammar and punctuation .

However, there are a lot more fundamental writing techniques to learn and implement in your own writing.

  • Learn the writing fundamentals. First, learn all there is to know! You can learn basic writing fundamentals by taking writing development courses, and reading books on writing.
  • Study the fundamentals. Be an avid, deep reader. Don’t just read to understand the story. Read to analyze how the author told that story. Study the author’s style, specifically in the genres you want to write in. By doing this, you’ll start to identify characteristics of remarkable writing.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Put what you’ve learned into practice. Remember all the literary elements you learned about in school. Start actually using those in your writing. Try mirroring an author’s style that you admire. Write often and make it part of your everyday life. Write in a journal , complete writing prompts, write letters to friends, or write short stories.
  • Explore different genres. Part of finding your author's voice and developing yourself as a writer means experimenting with other genres that you may not have written on before. Use creative writing prompts to help you practice your writing fundamentals.
  • Show, don't tell in writing . This is the number one rule to writing , and it's important for you to master it. Practice showing and not telling in your own writing, and understand when to use it.

While you shouldn’t cut corners on your writing development, it’s important to not get stuck in this phase.

At the end of the day, you can read and take all the courses in the world, but the most growth and development you will experience is when you’re actually writing.

4. Create a Positive Author Mindset

Many writers experience feelings of insecurity. Ernest Hemingway supposedly said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

If writers are figuratively transforming the essence of their being into words on paper for others to read, then it’s no wonder the best writers suffer from their own insecurities and fear of judgment !

Feeling inadequate is expected, and totally normal. But the ability to pursue your goal to learn how to become an author (despite your fear) is what will set you apart from all the other aspiring book writers out there.

Create An Author Mindset

Steps to build a positive author mindset:

  • Overcome imposter syndrome and self-doubt as a writer . Give yourself permission to be an author. Don’t shy away from calling yourself a writer – start owning it.
  • Accept that you’re a work in progress. Don’t strive for perfection in writing. Maintain a growth mindset , and understand that there is always room for improvement. You are constantly learning, and improving, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. If you wait for perfection, it’ll never get done.
  • Set a writing habit. Making writing part of your daily lifestyle is super important. If you tend to wait for inspiration as a writer, you’ll be left high and dry more often than not. We’ll cover more on how to set a writing habit in the next section.
  • Focus, focus, focus. We’ve all been there. You sit down at the table to write, and find that an hour has passed and you’ve only churned out a few sentences. Find a focus technique that works for you and stick to it.
  • Think courageously. Try not to get too bogged down in the negative “what-ifs.” What if no one likes my book? What if my writing sucks? What if this book is an entire flop? It’s okay to fear failure, but learn to shake it off and be courageous instead. For every negative thought you have, try to think of two positive thoughts!
  • Define your own success. Success means something different for every author. Some writers want to share their words with the world, while others simply want to build an author's salary to support their writing. Whatever your reason is, get clarity around your definition of success.

5. Write Your First Book to Learn How to Become an Author

To truly learn how to become an author, you have to write a book first.

The world is full of great writers with stories to share. The trouble for many is – they never get around to actually finishing a book.

It also depends on what type of book you want to write. If you want to write a nonfiction book , the process is different than learning how to write a novel . The same is true if you're learning how to write a memoir .

This is where it can really get tough. But with grit, determination, and a clear game plan, you can do it. We’re cheering for you!

Here are the steps to write a book and learn how to become an author:  

Get Clear on Your Foundation

Because writing a book can be an uphill battle, you want to make sure your foundation is rock solid. This means getting clear on why you want to become the author of this book. Once you’re super clear on your foundation, you’ll be able to write your book with intention.

Foundational questions you’ll want to ask yourself are:

  • When do you want to have this book done by?
  • How will you position the book?
  • Who are you writing this book for (your target reader)?
  • What is your book's topic or genre?
  • To grow your income
  • To build a reputation/authority
  • To fuel a passion project
  • To share a story or knowledge

Brainstorm With a Mind Map

Letting your ideas flow freely with a mind map is an effective way to get those creative juices flowing. With so many ideas to explore for your book’s topic, mind map exercises will help you “brain dump” all your thoughts.

Follow these steps to create a mind map for your book:

  • Set a timer for 10-15 minutes to start.
  • Always be writing – don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just write out your thoughts without reservations!
  • Start with a central idea, topic, or concept.
  • Add connecting branches of key ideas that relate to that central idea.
  • Jot down any words that tie ideas together.
  • Use colored highlighters or sticky notes to organize similar concepts or ideas.

YouTube video

Create an Outline

Using your mind map, start creating a basic outline for your book. Don’t get hung up on the details. Think of it in terms of a beginning, a middle, and an end. A simple outline will help you get the ball rolling as you start writing your first draft. As you dive deeper into the writing, your outline can get more detailed, and be revised as needed.

Set a Writing Schedule

Commit to your writing goals each and every day if you want to learn how to become an author. Set a specific plan for yourself, and set small milestones or goals, whether it’s by word count or time spent writing .

You can have all the ideas in the world, but if you aren’t setting time aside each day to actually write, then the chances of your book being completed will be low.

Tips for setting a writing schedule:

  • Set up a distraction-free writing space
  • Plan for short brain breaks to avoid burnout
  • Set a daily word count goal
  • Do NOT edit as you write
  • Have a buddy keep you accountable
  • Use book writing software to help you meet your daily goals
  • Set a deadline to complete your book by

Schedule To Become An Author

Write Your Rough Draft

Sounds simple, but it’s definitely easier said than done. You can do it! The only way to write a book is to actually sit down and do it. You become a book writer by writing a completed book. Use your outline for guidance, and remember – don’t edit while you write !

Self-Edit Your Book

Once your rough draft is completed, it’s important that you focus on self-editing your book. Although your book will go through a professional editing phase during the publishing process, if you self-edit thoroughly, your editor will be able to focus on other edits that you weren’t able to catch.

Tips for self-editing your book:

  • Do a verbal read – through to find areas of improvement in your sentence structure and storyline.
  • Work chapter by chapter to increase productivity and focus.
  • Don’t get stuck in the editing phase.
  • Remember that any points of uncertainty will be cleared up in the professional editing phase.

Author Editing Tips

6. Publish Your Book

Through blood, sweat, and tears, you’ve committed to writing your book, and have officially become a writer.

Now, it’s time to take the next step and learn how to become an author. And that means publishing your book!

How To Become An Author Of A Book

Here’s how to become an author of a published book:

Decide How to Publish

Modern book writers are faced with a major decision on how to publish a book . There are two ways to publish: traditionally publish or self-publish .

YouTube video

You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each, including the cost to publish , and determine which route is more advantageous for you.

If you traditionally publish your book , this means that an actual publishing company will publish your book for you. However, landing a book contract with a traditional publisher is extremely competitive, and the chances are slim for most authors.

So what is self-publishing , you ask? If you self-publish your book , this means that you will be in charge of the publishing process yourself. There are many benefits in going this route, but you'll need to make sure you are self-publishing the right way to ensure book quality and success .

Steps to Traditionally Publish a Book

  • Pitch your book draft to literary agents.
  • If your manuscript is accepted by an agent, your book will be pitched to publishers.
  • If a publisher accepts your work, you will be offered a book contract.
  • The publisher will have your book edited, formatted, and designed.
  • You earn royalties based on the number of books that are sold.

Steps to Self-Publish a Book

  • Find a book editor for each type of editing needed
  • Hire a formatter (if needed) for your book.
  • Hire a professional book cover designer to create an engaging book cover.
  • Choose which self-publishing platforms to sell your book on.
  • Upload the book to the self-publishing platform.

If you still need help deciding how to publish, compare your earning potential with our Book Royalties Calculator .

Book Royalties Calculator

1. my book will be published by a..., 2. my book will be an:, 3. my royalty rate will be:.

*Please note that this royalty rate is based on the market averages for paperback books. Actual royalty rates for traditional and indie publishing can vary by author depending on several factors.

4. My book's retail price:

5. the # of books sold:, your results, your profit per book sold, for books sold, you earn:, for 1,000 books sold, you earn:, for 10,000 books sold, you earn:, royalties comparisons for 10,000 books sold, want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox, 7. market your book to become a bestselling author.

Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish, you need to launch and market your book to learn how to become an author successfully.

This step is crucial because if you don’t market your book, how are you going to reach potential readers?

You dedicated time, effort, and – at times – your sanity, to get your book out. Now it’s time to let the world know about it.

You’ll need a strategic book launch and marketing plan in place, which should include a number of techniques to gain readership and sell your book.

Book Marketing Strategies to Consider

  • Build a launch team before your official book release
  • Social media marketing , such as on Pinterest and Instagram
  • Effective book pricing that appeals to prospective readers
  • Build an author website to create your own author platform
  • Use book advertising on various book promo sites like BookBub
  • Get book reviews to increase visibility, reach, and credibility

To dive deep into your book marketing , plan ahead, set a budget, do research, and reach out to your network!

Become A Bestselling Author With Book Reviews

8. Write Another Book!

Your first book is a learning experience, and once your first book is published, you'll realize how many ideas you have for more books.

And that is where the real success comes in. In today's digital author landscape, it's important to keep writing books in order to build a career as an author.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that one book will find instant success. While that does happen for some writers, it is the exception and NOT the rule.

So keep going! Write your next book. The more books you write, the smoother your process will become.

Are You Ready to Become an Author?

Great books make the world go ‘round, which is why we’re all about helping writers learn how to become authors.

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.

Books are life-changing, not just for the book writer, but for the book readers all across the world that will learn from your story.

Becoming an author can be one of the most rewarding, and fulfilling accomplishments of your life. You deserve to celebrate it!

Ready To Learn How to Become An Author? This FREE eBook Will Walk You Step-By-Step Through The ENTIRE PROCESS

Faqs about how to become an author.

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about what an author is and how to become an author:

What is a Writer?

A writer is someone who writes or expresses ideas or concepts through the written word. There are many people who write for a variety of reasons – whether it's part of their occupation, or for creative expression.

Types of writers that aren't necessarily authors:

  • Technical writers
  • Ghostwriters
  • Copywriters
  • Content writers
  • Songwriters

Can Anyone Be a Writer?

It depends on the type of writer, but yes, technically anyone can be a writer as long as they know how to write. However, specialized writers, such as technical writers and copywriters often require advanced experience and/or degrees in order to be qualified for a writing position. Of course, learning how to become an author is a different story, entirely.

What is an Author?

Authors are people who write books, novels, short stories, poems, literary prose, and even screenplays.

What is an author, exactly? An author is someone who has written and published a complete literary work. The publishing is key. If you haven't published your work, then you are a writer but not an author.

How Do Authors Get Paid?

Authors can be paid in a variety of ways, but most commonly authors are paid through book advancements and royalty fees.

How Much Do Authors Get Paid?

The average author salary has a very wide range, and an author's income depends on a number of criteria, such as the number of books published, the publishing method, the book genre and topic, and the success of the book.

As of writing, the current average author salary is between $35,000 to $135,000.

How Do I Get Started As An Author?

Really, you just need to start writing! Finish a manuscript, edit it, hire a book cover designer and a marketing team, and learn how to self-publish a book . It may seem like an overwhelming process at first, but there are self-publishing companies that can help you with every step along the way.

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How to Become An Author: A Step-by-Step Guide

Discover how to become an author in our step-by-step guide.

I wanted to become an author since I was five, but I didn’t take writing books seriously until my thirties. I spent far more time talking about writing than writing. It was only after learning how to write every day that I finally wrote and published my first book.

Since then, I’ve written several books and interviewed dozens of authors about their process, including New York Times best-selling authors. I’ve self-published multiple books and co-wrote a USA Today best-seller.

I discovered many people say they have a book inside of them, but few commit time, energy and resources and turn their idea for a great book into a published work. 

That’s a shame because it’s easier than ever to become an author today. The tools are more affordable and readily available than ever. Aspiring authors don’t need permission from an agent or publisher either. Furthermore, becoming an author enables many writers to earn a good living from what they love, but it starts with writing that first book. 

In this article, I explain how you can become an author faster based on my experiences and talking to other authors who find success.

1. Read Widely

2. learn the art of storytelling, 3. write a little every day, 4. write short stories and blog post, 5. take a creative writing class, 6. pick a genre, 7. research your book, 8. select your book writing tools, 9. set a deadline, 10. outline your book, 11. write a rough draft, 12. track your wordcount, 13. finish your drafts, 14. learn how to self-edit, 15. hire a professional editor, 16. face your fears, 17. try self-publishing, 18. hire a book cover designer, 19. avoid letting perfectionism halt your writing career, 20. sell your book, the final word on how to become an author, how much does an author get paid, what qualifications do you need to become an author, does an author make good money, what is the best time to publish a book.

As a writer, your free time is often best spent reading rather than streaming the latest hit show on social media. Successful authors spend hours each week reading books inside and outside their comfort zone. 

These authors study what works in these books to understand their preferred genre or niche conventions. They also develop their skills by questioning what doesn’t work inside of best-selling books. Many authors describe writing out sections of books they love by hand so they can understand how the author wrote. 

This type of analytical rigour helps creatives develop a writing voice. Stephen King said about the importance of reading for authors: 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.”

Reading books about the craft can also acquire the skills you need for the genre in question. For inspiration, check out our list of the best writing books .

Fiction authors understand how important it’s to hook readers’ attention from the first few pages. They spend hours learning how to show rather than tell and create memorable characters who jump to life off the page. They create characters who want something and change fundamentally as the story progresses.

Successful non-fiction authors do more than impart information and research to readers. Consider Malcolm Gladwell. He’s as famous for research as he is for telling captivating stories that entertain and inspired. 

Storytelling is more important than any writing skill, including grammar and line editing. You can learn this skill by taking writing courses or by reading some of the best books about stories. I particularly enjoyed the storytelling seminar by Robert McKee and his books on the same topic.

For help with stories, read our storytelling guide .

How to become an author? Write a little every day

If you’re worried your book writing skills aren’t good enough, work through your reps. The more sentences you write, the stronger your command of language will become. The more clichés you terminate, the better you’ll become at editing.

Rather than trying to write your book for hours at the weekend, work on it a little every day. Any aspiring author can find fifteen or thirty minutes to work on their first drafts and book outlines before or after work. 

Remove time-sinks like reading the news, consuming social media or streaming the latest show on Netflix. These small writing sessions quickly accumulate. If you need help, a good set of writing prompts can trigger a productive writing session.

The more chapters you write, the better you’ll be at articulating stories and ideas. And the more books you finish, the more you’ll know how to write a book. And the next book. And the next.

Every aspiring author should write either short stories or blog posts before tackling a fiction or non-fiction book. A book averaging 50,000 words can take months to write and edit, but you can write a short story in a few days or over a week, as they are only several thousand words long. 

These smaller writing projects offer aspiring authors a chance to explore different types of writing, genres and niches. They also help cultivate a writing habit of starting and finishing creative projects. 

You can publish the short story on Wattpad, submit it to a writing contest, or potentially expand it into a novel or a book. Even if you never publish it, consider it a type of writing practice that improves your storytelling skills.

Non-fiction authors should write several blog posts or articles about the topic of choice and publish them on social media platforms like Medium. They can explore their thinking and get feedback from readers and editors before spending months writing a book.

Learn how to get paid writing short stories.

Wanting to become an author can feel like a strange writing goal if you’re not spending much time in the company of other creatives. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an MFA or a degree in creative writing to connect with other creatives, either. 

Spending a few weeks or months in the company of aspiring authors may inspire you to work harder on your craft. They can also hold you to account and offer feedback on your early drafts and book ideas. What’s more, you could form connections with future professional authors.

I took creative writing classes at the Irish Writer’s Centre in Dublin a few years ago. Several students went on to become published authors with traditional book deals.

A good author understands what readers expect from them. For example, James Patterson doesn’t attempt to write literary prose because his audience is more concerned with page-turning thrillers. Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t write self-help because he understands his audience prefers story-telling combined with research. Popular fiction genres include:

  • Thrillers 
  • Science-fiction
  • Speculative fiction
  • Modern literature
  • Action and adventure
  • Children’s books

Popular non-fiction genres include:

  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Business 
  • Pop psychology

Identify the best-selling books and authors in your preferred and ask yourself what they’re doing that readers love. Figure out an ideal target audience for the genre in question. How old are they, what sex and what other books do they like? 

What do they expect from a book in this genre? After all, thriller readers don’t care much for the latest magic or tech found in fantasy and science-fiction books! Including or excluding certain conventions will dictate the quality of book reviews later on.

For help, read our guide to book genres .

Book research is a vital part of the creative process. Fiction authors can travel to locations or settings they want to include in their books and take pictures and videos. Or they can use Google maps and a good travel book if they are short on time and budget. 

Non-fiction authors can interview subject matter experts about their topic of choice. Consider using a service like Descript or Rev for transcriptions to save time with interviews. These book interviews demonstrate credibility and also improve the quality of the book. They can also serve as material for blog posts and articles promoting the book in question. 

However, avoid letting research become a form of procrastination whereby you endlessly hunt for better ideas and information. At some point, an author has to turn their notes into words.

A good writing app can help you plan, outline, write and edit a book quickly and easily. Scrivener is perfect for long-form writing, as you can drag and drop sections of a book. I also like using Grammarly for book editing, although it’s not a replacement for a proofreader. Vellum is a good choice for laying out a book, but it’s Mac only. 

Read our guide to the best grammar checkers .

You can quickly write a book using a standard word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Remember, hitting a daily word count and publication date is more important than any tool. So pick one that suits your writing style and budget and stick with it until done.

How to become an author? Set a deadline

Professional authors hold themselves to account with deadlines. They pick an ideal publication date and work backwards. James Patterson, for example, publishes several books a year and relies on contracts with his publishers and his audience’s expectations. 

If it’s your first book, break it down into smaller milestones you can tick off one by one. You could pick a target date for finishing your book’s first act and a date for sending a draft to an editor. 

While setting these deadlines, block book time in your calendar for writing the book each day. Ideally, you’ll work on it simultaneously so that writing becomes a daily habit and not a chore. Allow room for error when setting deadlines, too—plan for holidays, work and life events.

Some writers are plotters. They like outlining and planning extensively in advance, as this process saves them time. Other authors like writing from the seat of their pants, whereby they turn up and see where the muse and their characters lead them. 

If you’re the former type of author, outline a book using index cards. They’re cheap and don’t have a learning curve or need Wi-Fi! I drafted an entire book previously using about 50 index cards. Each represented a chapter for the book and contained the key points I’d write about. The best mind-mapping software can help authors who are more visually-inclined

I use outlining as I can arrange the key ideas for a book chapter using bullet points. I can move them around and fix the structure of a chapter without worrying about line edits during an early draft. Outlining also works well for authors who dictate early drafts. 

Read our guide to the best outlining software .

The job of a first draft is to exist. Don’t worry about grammar errors, typos and other mistakes. Instead, focus on getting the words out of your head and onto the blank page as quickly as possible. Ernest Hemingway famously said:

 “The first draft of anything is shit.” 

Focus on writing the book’s first draft as quickly as possible, so you’ve something to work with and shape into a book during the revision process. 

Consider dictating the first draft using software like Dragon. It’s possible to dictate thousands of words per hour without stopping to fix typos and other mistakes. An author could dictate their book while out for a walk, tapping into the benefits of exercise and creativity. Prolific authors like PD Woodhouse famously outlined their stories using a voice recorder and gave their notes to a secretary to typos up. 

For help, learn how to practice dictation.

Writing a book is one part creative and another part hard work. Oliver Stone once said, “Writing is butt in the chair.”

Becoming an author is easier if you hold yourself to account by tracking your daily output. For most writers, this type of quantification involves keeping track of a daily word count. 

Do this in a spreadsheet or notebook. That way, you can realistically evaluate your daily output and if you will hit those deadlines. Review your production once a week and assess if you’re turning up often enough in front of the blank page.

During the editing process, consider changing what you track to time spent working on the book rather than a daily word count. The editing process involves condensing, clarifying and revising rather than hitting an arbitrary word-count goal daily.

It’s easy to start a book draft, but it’s much harder to finish writing it. However, authors must learn the value of persistence. After completing a book draft, you’ll have something to show to beta readers and an editor. 

By finishing, you can become the kind of author who thinks of an idea, fleshes their idea out, edits, rewrites, polishes and rewrites some more, then presses publish. That takes guts.

The editing process often isn’t as gruelling as writing that painful first draft, either. Feedback is invaluable. It’s your chance to learn how to become a better writer. Neil Gaiman said about the importance of finishing book drafts:

“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.”

For help, check out our list of first draft examples .

After finishing a book draft, let it sit for several days or even weeks. It’s best to separate writing and editing as they engage different brain parts.

When you’re less attached to your book draft, read through the draft in one or two sittings marking it up with annotations. Identify what structural changes the piece needs first and rewrite accordingly. 

Condense, clarify and revise. Ensure each chapter draws on the five senses and has compelling hooks or stories so that it hooks readers. 

While revising the first time, don’t worry about typos and grammar mistakes. You can fix these during later drafts once the book’s structure is set. Later, look for sections with readability issues and consider if you’ve overused words and clichés.

Check out our list of manuscript editing software .

Hire a professional editor

A good book editor helps with revising, restructuring and proofreading your book. Best to involve them earlier in the book writing process than you think. They will save you time on rewrites and provide valuable advice for your writing career. You can send them book chapters or acts as you finish them rather than at the end. 

Plus, many good book editors have a waiting list and may not be able to review a draft for weeks or even months and not when you finish it. You can find a book editor using a service like Reedsy.

Typically, an author should budget for a developmental editor who works on the book’s structure. They’ll also need a line editor or copy editor who will fix sentence structure and grammar issues. Finally, they’ll need a proofreader to spot typos and other mistakes. That said, it’s possible to commission one editor who can complete all these services as part of a single package. 

Expect to pay one to three thousand dollars depending on the length of your book, genre, and the work required.

Most authors have many unpublished works on their computers and know more about disappointment than success. Stephen Pressfield , the author of many best-sellers, including the War of Art , tried to become an author for years. He said:

“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”

Writing is personal and not something you can fake or dial in. If you want to finish writing your book, you’ll fail at some point. For help, learn more about conquering common writing fears .

Some aspiring authors worry about what will happen after they publish a book. How will friends and family react? One new writer emailed me to say she worried about what would happen if she became famous. She wrote:

“I want to tell stories, and I want people to read them and get joy and satisfaction from them; I just don’t want to become a subject under a microscope!

Worrying about how those around you will react to your book is natural. It’s normal to wonder what will happen if you become known for being a writer.

Well, it’s impossible to please everyone, so if some people aren’t comfortable with your success, that’s their problem. If you succeed, you’ll discover a new side to yourself and your craft, which will only enrich your life.

After all, you will regret not having the courage to see your ideas and your book through later. So hold through to your values, and finish writing that book. 

Years ago, a young writer had to learn how to write a book, find an agent, and land a book deal. Traditional publishing is tough to break into when starting out with no name recognition.

Nowadays, you can write and self-publish a book on Amazon, Kobo and Act for several hundred dollars. Technically, you can do it for free, but I’d recommend budgeting for working with an editor, proofreader, and cover designer.

Self-publishing a book will teach you how the process works and help you discover the types of titles you want to write in the future. It may even land you a traditional book publishing deal, as happened with Hugh Howie, author of Wool and E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey .

If you’re exploring self-publishing, consider what formats you’ll create. For example, many non-fiction authors earn more money from audiobooks than Kindle books. Similarly, fiction authors can earn more from print copies. 

For inspiration, read our profile of famous authors who self-published .

A good book cover is a primary driver for book sales. Best not to skimp on it. Hire a professional book cover designer who can create a compelling cover relevant to your genre. 

As many readers buy books online, your cover must look good in small sizes and on the Amazon store. Don’t attempt to create a cover yourself unless you have professional design skills. Your time is better spent editing and writing than tinkering in Photoshop or other design software.

If your budget is tight, you could buy a pre-made cover for one or two hundred dollars and swap it out later when you’ve more money. 

Learn more about working with a book cover designer .

Many aspiring authors hold off on writing and publishing a book until they have enough time, money and skills. That’s a mistake. Every author learns by doing.

In my mid-twenties, I spent years struggling to become a novelist. I wrote dozens of short stories and abandoned them. I researched articles I wanted to write for newspapers and never wrote them.

There wasn’t any moment when I learned how to finish my work. Instead, I got a job as a journalist writing for a newspaper. There, I had to finish my articles by a deadline because the editor would fire me if I didn’t.

I know this because he called me into his office after I missed a deadline and said so. So I overcame perfectionism. I stopped polishing my articles until they were perfect, and I finished them. On more than one occasion, my editor returned articles to me, saying I’d left out an introductory paragraph or my introduction needed reworking. After listening to his criticism, I wanted to quit.

On other occasions, the sub-editors of the paper reworked my articles. This process felt like a brutal dressing-down, but at least I was getting paid to write.

For help, learn how to beat procrastination in writing .

As an author, your job doesn’t end after submitting a manuscript to a publishing house or uploading the final files to Amazon. Whether you have a traditional book deal, you still need to sell copies via book marketing.

Many publishing houses write off the cost of book deals because they don’t believe a book will sell. Others don’t do a great job of selling a book on behalf of their clients. To avoid this problem, learn the basics of author marketing.

  • Set up an author website
  • Build an email list of engaged readers
  • Run book promotions regularly
  • Send advanced copies of your book to an early readers group for feedback and reviews
  • Study how Amazon ads work and use them

 For help, read our guide to selling self-published books .

Most people spend more time telling their friends they have a great idea for a book. But, they don’t spend much time turning their vision into reality.

No matter what tips on becoming an author you learn, please understand it takes tremendous hard work and mental discipline to write a book.

While releasing the best possible version of your work is smart, you’ll need some self-knowledge to finish it. There will always be a gap between what you want your creative project to be about and what comes out on the blank page.

The best way to narrow that gap and improve the quality of your book is to put in your reps: write more often, finish your work and publish it. You, too, can become an author.

FAQs on How to Become An Author

The average author sells 250-500 copies of their book in the first year. According to the Guardian, they usually won’t earn more than $1000 or earn back their advance due to how book royalties are structured. That said, book sales hit an all-time high in 2021, suggesting people are reading more than ever.

However, successful fiction authors don’t rely on one book to pay the bills. They build a back catalogue of work that sells over time. Many non-fiction authors rely on their books to sell related services like public speaking, consulting or a course.

You don’t need any qualifications to become an author. It’s much like an entrepreneurial career choice; the onus is on the writer to develop their skills, work on a book, and publish and sell it. However, it’s helpful to have a strong command of the English language. Therefore, many authors study English, journalism or a related discipline at the university. 

Newer and mid-tier authors can earn several thousand dollars a year from their books, granted not quit your job money. However, authors can make good money if they have a back catalogue of books, sell related products or services or have built a name for themselves and their work. James Patterson is an example of a top-tier author who is earning upwards of $100 million as part of his last book contract.

Books sell the most copies before the holiday season. As such, it’s usually best to publish before December or Black Friday as book lovers are already in a shopping mood. The summer months are also a popular time for sales and people like buying books they can read on holidays.

become a published author

Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

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How to become an author

How to Become an Author: Your Complete Guide

So you want to become an author…

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news first:

Writing your book won’t be easy. If you’re in the middle of that right now, you know exactly what I mean.

But here’s the good news:

All that work could open some amazing possibilities for you:

  • Getting published
  • A career you love
  • Impacting people
  • Media attention
  • Added income

In this extensive guide, my goal is to give you an honest look at how to become an author—using lessons I’ve learned from nearly 50 years working with some of the top publishers in the world.

Having written 200 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers, I’m confident I can advise you in your writing journey.

  • What You Will Learn

Everything I cover in this step-by-step post on becoming an author:

  • DON’T Try to Become an Author Until You’ve… …Studied the Craft and Polished Your Skills …Written and Published Things Shorter Than a Book …Joined a Community of Writers …Started Building Your Platform
  • Writing Your Book Create a Writing Schedule You Can Stick to Identify Your Target Audience Research and Plan Keep Your Day Job Become a Ferocious Self-Editor
  • Landing a Publishing Contract How to Get an Agent Selling a Publisher Editing Your Book
  • Whether to Self-Publish An Overview How to Set Your Manuscript Apart Choosing the Right Company The #1 Killer of Self-Published Books
  • How to Become an Author in 4 Steps

1. DON’T Try to Become a Writer Until You’ve…

I get it. You’re antsy. You’re ready to pen your bestseller right now. You’ve heard of writers who scored with a million-seller on their first try.

Throttle back. Those stories become big news because they’re so rare. Don’t bank on winning the lottery. If you want your book (and your message ) to go anywhere, make sure you’ve:

…Studied the Craft

There’s no need to write by trial and error anymore. Your best bet is to follow proven methods.

Here’s a list of my favorite 12 books on writing to get you started.

The competition has gotten so fierce, you do yourself a favor if you learn how successful authors write before you try to get a look from a publisher.

…Written Things Shorter Than a Book

You shouldn’t start your writing career with a book any more than you should enroll in grad school as a kindergartner. A book is where you arrive.

Start small, learn the craft, hone your writing skills , write daily.

Journal. Write short stories . Write a newsletter. Start a blog. Write for magazines, newspapers, ezines. Take a night school or online course in journalism or creative writing .

Bottom line: Work a quarter-million clichés out of your system, learn what it means to be edited, become an expert in something, build your platform (more on that below), and only then think about writing a book.

…Joined a Community of Writers

how to become an author

Think you can do it alone?

Almost every traditionally published author I know is part of a helpful community. That’s one way they deal with:

  • Frustration
  • Discouragement
  • Procrastination
  • Wanting to quit

I’ve written 200 books, and at this stage, community means I can bounce ideas off colleagues when I need to.

When you first become a writer, another pair of eyes on your work can prove invaluable. Ten pairs of eyes can be even better.

Join a writers’ group . Find a mentor. Stay open to criticism.

One caveat with writers’ groups: make sure at least one person, preferably the leader, is widely published and understands the publishing landscape. Otherwise you risk the blind leading the blind.

…Started Building Your Platform

When you eventually pitch agents and publishers, one of the first things they’ll do is conduct an Internet search for your name.

They’re looking for authors with a platform. If platform is a new term to you, it simply means the extent of your influence—how many people are interested in what you do? So start building yours now.

Bottom line, to become a published author you’ll need your own author website .

Add a blog and invite readers to comment, then interact with them. Join your favorite social media platforms and interact with readers there regularly.

Publishing short pieces can boost your name recognition.

With all the social media vehicles available, building a following has never been easier.

  • 2. Writing Your Book

Most people never get this far. Writer’s fear leads to procrastination, and few ever make it to the first page .

To avoid this, you need a plan like the following:

Create a Writing Schedule You Can Stick To

Successful writers show up and do the work whether or not they feel like it.

Writer’s block is no excuse. In no other profession could you claim worker’s block.

Carve out at least six hours a week to write. You won’t find it, you’ll have to make the time by sacrificing something else. Lock these hours into your calendar and keep them sacred.

You’ll get a lot done when you finally plant yourself in your chair.

Identify Your Audience

Once you’ve determined your genre, identify the readers you want to read your book. Agents and publishers need to know the audience you’re targeting so they can market your book.

But resist the temptation to say it’s for everybody. Naturally, it’s tempting to wonder who wouldn’t want to read our work. But the truth is, that kind of thinking makes you look like an amateur.

Even mega-bestselling books don’t appeal to everyone. They’re written to specific audiences, and if they cross over to other markets (like the Harry Potter Young Adult titles—which have become vastly popular to adults as well), that’s a bonus.

Research books in your genre. You should read dozens and dozens of them to learn the conventions and expectations of readers. And who are those readers?

  • Primarily Male or Female?
  • Educational background

Get to know readers by regularly interacting with them through your website, on social media, or in person.

Research and Plan

To give your manuscript the best chance to succeed , don’t skip this step. Excellent preparation can make or break your book.

Two main ways to prepare:

1. Outline. Regardless how you feel about outlining, you need an idea of where you’re going before you start. If you’re writing a novel , you’re either an Outliner or a Pantser (who writes by the seat of your pants. If you’re writing a nonfiction book, you must outline .)

On the fiction side, Pantsers write by process of discovery—or as Stephen King puts it, they “put interesting characters in difficult situations and write to find out what happens.”

If you’re an Outliner and a novelist, you’ll benefit from Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method . But if you’re a Pantser, check out this post . It’ll teach you how to work within a structure without actually outlining.

2. Do the research. Great stories can be sunk with less than solid research.

If your character drives 10 miles east out of the Chicago Loop—as I once read in a bad novel, he’d better be in an amphibious vehicle, because he’d be in Lake Michigan.

Immerse yourself in the details of your setting . Accuracy adds flavor and authenticity. Get them wrong and your reader loses confidence—and interest.

Research tools :

  • Atlases and World Almanacs offer geography and cultural norms and can provide character names to align with the setting, period, and customs . If your character flashes someone a thumbs up, be sure that means the same in his culture as it does in yours.
  • Encyclopedias. Buy your own, access one at a library, or find one online .
  • YouTube and online search engines can yield tens of thousands of resources.
  • Use a Thesaurus not to find the most exotic word but that normal one on the tip of your tongue.
  • Interview experts. People love to talk about their work, and that often leads to more story ideas.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

I didn’t become a full-time freelance author until I had written and published nearly 90 books. A veteran author advised me that my freelance income ought to be around three times what I made at my job before I considered going solo.

Why so much?

He listed everything I would have to pay for: insurance, retirement, benefits, travel, equipment, office supplies—in short, everything.

Your job doesn’t have to keep you from writing. Keep it and write after hours. Why?

  • You’ll have steady income—one less thing to worry about—while trying to build your writing career .
  • You’ll be forced to be productive with limited hours.

How big a sacrifice is that for your writing dream? How badly do you want to become an author?

Become a Ferocious Self-Editor

This section is so important that it has the power to determine whether your manuscript sells—or slides into the editor’s reject pile.

Get serious about self-editing.

Editors know from the first page or two whether your manuscript is worth pursuing. I know that doesn’t sound fair or even logical. You’re thinking, It took me months, maybe years, to write hundreds of pages and you didn’t even get to the good stuff!

How could they do that to you? Why did they?

First, the good stuff ought to appear from word one. And if they see 15 needed adjustments on the first two pages, they know the cost of editing three or four hundred pages of the same would eat whatever profits they could hope for.

To avoid the dreaded “Thank you, but this doesn’t meet a current need” letter, your manuscript must be lean and mean and a great read.

My 21 rules of ferocious self-editing:

  • Develop a thick skin. If you can’t take a critique, this may be the wrong pursuit for you.
  • Avoid throat-clearing—scene setting, description, philosophizing—anything that slows getting to your story or your point.
  • Choose the normal word over the obtuse.
  • Omit needless words.
  • Avoid subtle redundancies, like: “She nodded her head in agreement.” Those last four words could be deleted.
  • Avoid the words up and down , unless they’re needed for clarity.
  • Usually delete the word that . Again, use it only when necessary.
  • Give readers credit. They understand more than you think.
  • Avoid telling what’s not happening. If you don’t say it happened, we’ll assume it didn’t.
  • Avoid being an adjectival maniac. Good writing is a thing of powerful nouns and verbs, not a plethora of adjectives.
  • Avoid hedging verbs like smiled slightly , almost laughed , frowned a bit , etc.
  • Avoid the term literally when you mean figuratively. [NOTE: I literally died when I heard that.]
  • Avoid too much stage direction, describing every action of every character ad nauseum .
  • Maintain a single point of view (POV) character for every scene.
  • Avoid clichés, and not just words and phrases, but situations—like beginning your story with a character waking to a jangling alarm clock.
  • Resist the urge to explain (RUE). If a character enters a room, we need not be told he came through the open door .
  • Show, don’t tell . Telling: John was cold. Showing: John turned up his collar and faced away from the biting wind.
  • People say things; they don’t wheeze, gasp, sigh, laugh, grunt, or retort them.
  • Specifics add the ring of truth, even to fiction.
  • Avoid similar character names . In fact, avoid even the same first initials.
  • Avoid mannerisms of punctuation, typestyles, and sizes, like overusing ellipses, italics, boldfacing, exclamation points, etc.
  • 3. Trying to Land a Publishing Contract

Becoming a published author isn’t easy. But let me show you the available options and suggest the best practices to increase your chances.

Acquiring an Agent

Once you’ve finished your manuscript and have ferociously self-edited it until you’re happy with every word, your first step in trying to land a traditional publishing deal (in other words, one where the publisher takes all the financial risk and also pays you) should be to try to land an agent .

There may seem a dichotomy, especially if you write for altruistic reasons—you have a mission, a passion, a message, something you want to share with the world. Yet agents and publishers appear to base their decisions solely on the bottom line.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t share your passion. They simply must make a profit to stay in business—even faith-based publishers who are all about ministry.

Though it’s hard to find an agent, it’s also rare to get traditionally published without one. Most publishers will not consider unsolicited manuscripts, though some allow you to submit at writers conferences or with the recommendation of other clients of theirs.

Check The Writer’s Market Guide and The Christian Writer’s Market Guide for agents and publishers.

An agent can make your life a lot easier.

Besides the instant credibility of an agent’s approval, evidence that your writing has survived a vetting process, you also get valuable input and coaching on how to fashion your query and proposal from someone who understands the publishing industry, knows the players and who’s looking for what, and has experience pitching publishers.

Obviously, there are good and bad agents. Whom can you trust? Credible agents welcome scrutiny. Check with their clients. Ask:

  • Were you happy?
  • Did you feel taken care of?
  • Were they pleased with the results?

Feel free to ask agents:

  • How do you like to work with an author?
  • Have they succeeded in my genre?
  • And any other question you have.

Once you compile a list of agents who seem to be a good fit, follow their submission guidelines. They’ll likely ask for a query letter , synopsis , proposal, and perhaps a few chapters.

If any ask for any sort of reading fee or other payment up front, eliminate them as candidates and do not respond. Agents make their money when they sell your book to a publisher.

Check out the submission guidelines for any agent by going to their website. You may be asked for:

1. A query letter

This is just what its name implies—a letter querying the interest of the agent in your book idea .

Four parts of an effective query letter:

A. your elevator pitch.

This is a summary of your book’s premise, told in the time it would take the editor to reach his floor if you happened to find yourself in the same elevator. So it has to be fast and easily understood.

The elevator pitch for my very first novel:

“A judge tries a man for a murder that the judge committed.”

While today I might have added a few more specifics, that either interested an agent or an editor, or it didn’t. Fortunately, it did.

b. Your synopsis

In a paragraph, tell what your nonfiction book is about and what you hope to accomplish with it. Or tell the basic premise of the plot of your novel. The synopsis would naturally go beyond the elevator pitch and tell what happens and how things turn out. Don’t make the mistake of trying to tease an agent into reading your manuscript to find out what happens. Tell him up front.

c. Your target audience and why they’ll enjoy your book

Agents need to envision how to pitch it to publishers, but be careful not to oversell. They know the business better than you do and will not be swayed by your assurance that “everyone will find this amazing.”

Tell what readers it’s intended for.

d. Your personal information

Sell the agent on yourself . What qualifies you to write this book? What else have you published? What kind of platform have you built? Where can they read your blog? Include your contact information.

Other query letter tips:

  • Keep it to one page, single-spaced, and 12 pt. serif type.
  • Don’t gush—let your premise speak for itself.
  • Follow the agent’s submission guidelines to a T.
  • Have someone you trust proofread your letter. Any typo on such a short document makes you look like an amateur.

A great example of a query letter, with a breakdown of why it works, by Brian Klems of Writer’s Digest.

2. A book proposal

Most agents want only this. Succinctly describe your idea, your goal being to make them want to read your manuscript in its enentirety as soon as it’s ready. For nonfiction, include every major issue you’ll cover and the basics of what you’ll say about it. For fiction, synopsize the plot.

Three trusted colleagues have produced masterful works on how to write book proposals:

Michael Hyatt: Writing a Winning Book Proposal

Jane Friedman: How to Write a Book Proposal

(Jane also has great material on query letters.)

Terry Whalin: Book Proposals That Sell

Proposals contain components such as:

  • Elevator pitch
  • Target audience
  • Chapter synopses
  • Marketing ideas
  • Endorsements
  • Your analysis of competing books
  • Up to three sample chapters

Every word should be designed to pique an agent’s interest in seeing your entire manuscript.

Want to write a book but don't know where to start? Click here to download my ultimate guide to writing a book for FREE.

Connecting with the Right Publisher

how to become an author

Should you choose to approach publishers on your own (without an agent):

  • Precisely follow their submission guidelines.
  • Personalize your cover letter to each.
  • Avoid flattery and obvious sentiments like, “I’ll do anything you say, make any changes you want, meet any deadline…” Just express that you look forward to hearing from them.

A rule of thumb:

If you’re writing fiction, most publishers require a complete manuscript before offering a contract.

Many writers come up with great ideas, and some produce promising starts. But few see their way through to the end. They want to know you can finish.

If the publisher offers input for the rest of the writing, you’ll have a much better chance of success if you can accommodate their wishes.

Professionally presented manuscripts follow these submission guidelines:

  • Use Times New Roman font (avoid sans serif fonts).
  • Use 12-point type.
  • Left-justify your page. (This means your text should be aligned at the left margin, but not the right. This is also called “flush left, ragged right.”)
  • Double-space your page with no extra space between paragraphs.
  • Each paragraph should be indented one-half inch.
  • One space between sentences.
  • Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file format.
  • 1” top, bottom, and side margins (or whatever is standard in your Word program).

Editing Your Book

Though you’ve already spent countless hours editing your own work, be ready to do more.

Once a publisher accepts your manuscript, they assign an editor to suggest changes, maybe major ones.

Develop a thick skin and avoid defensiveness. You can argue your points, if necessary, but remember, they’re on your side and want the best finished product. A published book is not a solo. It’s a duet between the writer and an editor.

Let them do their job. Keep an open mind and remain easy to work with. They’ll remember.

  • 4. Should You Self-Publish?

Exhaust your efforts to traditionally publish before resorting to self-publishing. Even honest self-publishing executives would advise this. Why? Because with traditional publishing, the publisher takes all the risks, and you’re paid an advance against royalties and royalties based on sales. So nothing comes out of your pocket.

With self-publishing, however, you pay for everything, and packages can cost upwards of $10,000. Even so called co-op publishers, who ask you to cover only publicity or invest in an initial press run, require a significant investment.

Back when self-publishing was referred to as “vanity publishing,” you could always tell a self-published book from a traditionally published book due to schlocky covers, boring titles, the word by before the author’s name on the cover, a misspelling of the word Foreword or Acknowledgments, too much copy on the front and back, sans serif typeface and interior design, shoddy editing and proofreading, etc.

Admittedly, the game has changed.

Publishing your own book is vastly different than it used to be. Your end product can now look much more professional, and your price per book much more reasonable.

Print-on-demand technology allows for low-cost printing, so you can order as few as two or three books at a time for the same cost per book as you’d pay if you were buying hundreds.

So, you no longer need to store countless copies in your garage or basement. And self-published books look nicer these days too, because writers have demanded it.

How to Set Your Self-Published Book Apart

If you go this route, realize that it falls to you to advertise, promote, and market your own book. And though you’re earning profits after expenses, not just a royalty, don’t assume this will net you more money per copy. You’ll be amazed at the expenses required before you see income. But of course it happens.

It’s also rare that a self-published book finds its way to bookstore shelves outside the author’s home town.

(The hard truth is that it’s not easy for even traditionally published authors to place their books in bookstores. Experts say as few as one percent of all published books can be accommodated by bookstores and that the rest must be sold through other channels like the Internet, direct mail, and by hand.)

To give your self-published title the best chance to succeed, you need to invest in:

  • A great cover, which will involve purchasing a photo or artwork, type design, and layout
  • Inside layout, type design, and typesetting
  • Editing (resist the urge to use a relative who majored in English or even teaches English; book editing is a specific art)
  • Proofreading (same caveat as above; friends and loved ones who are meticulous spellers are not enough; there are myriad style matters to deal with)

Each of these elements will dramatically increase the professional look of your final product and, thus, your hope of selling more books. Do NOT skimp on them.

If you’ve ever built a house without a contractor, you have an idea of how complex this can be to do right.

So despite that many self-published authors swear by it and believe it’s fairer to the author than traditional publishing, I maintain that traditional remains the ideal—except for those unique titles targeted to deserving but very limited audiences.

Choosing the Right Company to Self-Publish Your Book

More than 2 million books are self-published every year in the United States alone, so there are many companies to choose from. But sadly, many are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

They’ll let you create a poor product and tell you it’s great.

They’ll “award” you a contract, telling you their publication board has “evaluated” your manuscript and “found it worthy” to be published.

They’ll tell you they’re “not a subsidy publisher” or “not a self-publisher” or “not an independent publisher.”

But they’ll use another euphemism to justify the fact that you’re paying “only for promotion” or “only for [this many] copies,” or “only for…” something else, when the fact is that the fee will cover all their costs and will include their profit.

They’ll imply they can get your title before the eyes of every bookstore owner and manager in the country. They might even give examples of a few titles of theirs that have sold in some stores or even made some bestseller list.

But they can’t guarantee your title will be sold in any store. Because that list your title is on that is “available” to every store owner and manager is merely a master list of all the books on some distributor’s internet site of every title in their catalogue. That means your book will get no personal attention from a salesperson and no more emphasis than any of the tens of thousands of other titles on the list.

Such companies are using you as little more than a content generator, pretending to have “chosen” your book from among the many they have to choose from, when the fact is they would publish anything you send them in any form, provided your accompanying check clears the bank.

Be wary of any company that:

  • Doesn’t take seriously the editing and proofreading of your book
  • Lets you commit embarrassing typos
  • Allows the word by before your name on the cover
  • Over-promises what you should expect in the way of personal sales representation, public relations, marketing, distribution, and advertising

That said, when you do need to self-publish, legitimate companies with proven track records are ready and eager to assist you. Do your homework and go beyond an internet search, which will likely turn up beautiful websites for countless companies putting their best foot forward.

Find previous customers and ask about their experience. You want a company who will answer every question straightforwardly and without hesitation. If you feel hard-sold, run.

A litmus test question for the publisher: ask if they would advise you to exhaust your efforts to traditionally publish first. I asked this of the head of WestBow Press™ , a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, and he said he always advises customers that this is the ideal route.

That kind of refreshing honesty bodes well for a company.

The #1 Killer of Self-Published Books

When writers run out of money to invest in their book, too often the first place that suffers is the content itself.

Writers may understand that they are not experts in cover design, layout and typesetting, marketing and promotion, warehousing, distribution, and sales. But they overrate their writing and editing and proofreading abilities.

So, they invest in those other services and cut corners on editing and proofreading.

What they wind up with is a handsome product that looks like a real book but reads like the manuscript that made the rounds of the traditional houses and was rejected.

You must determine what will set you apart in a noisy marketplace.

That certain something that will set you apart is what it has always been:

Writing quality.

Having been in the writing game for 50 years and an author for more than 45, that is something I am able to tell you with certainty.

To use an ancient adage, cream rises. Readers recognize quality.

You or your agent may be looking for a deal from a traditional publisher. Or you may have chosen to self-publish online, in print, or both.

Regardless, you want your manuscript to be of the highest editorial quality you can make it.

What does that mean?

It means you must:

  • Learn the craft and hone your skills. Rigorously study writing, do exercises , write stories, ferociously edit your work. It can all pay off. Just as with physical exercise, the more the better, but anything is better than nothing.
  • Recognize that writing well is much harder and more involved than you ever dreamed. If you thought writing was merely a hobby, this realization could crush you. So, to push through, remember why you wanted to become a writer in the first place: you have a message, and people need to hear it.
  • Don’t trust friends’ and relatives’ flattery. Sure, they’re great for encouragement, or keeping you from quitting. But when you need solid input on your writing, their enthusiasm won’t translate to sales.
  • Accept criticism and input from people who know what they’re talking about. Find an experienced writer or editor who’ll offer honest feedback on your work. Join a writers group. Attend writers conferences. Get a mentor .

If you really want to become an author, it can be done. Don’t allow the magnitude of the process to overwhelm you. You’ll know you’re ready when you’re willing to carve the time from your schedule to write. You won’t find the time; you’ll have to create it.

Something on your calendar will have to give so you’ll make the time to write. What’ll it be? What you’re willing to sacrifice will tell you how important your writing dream is to you. Welcome to the journey.

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A guide to demystify the process and provide you with resources.

How Can I Get Published?

Thank you for your interest in Penguin Random House! The ins and outs of the book publishing process have long been opaque, and as part of our efforts to build a more diverse community of authors and create more pathways to publishing, we’ve written this handy guide to demystify the process and provide you with resources that help explain how the publishing process works.  

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all experience for authors, but this guide will point you toward the most common experiences of working with agencies and publishers. For a glossary of publishing terms that will help get you oriented in the industry, and better understand the information shared below, click here . 

Step One: Complete your manuscript or proposal 

If you have a great book idea, the first step is (in most cases) to complete that manuscript or proposal. Proposals are common with nonfiction projects, and full manuscripts are often needed with fiction. For help with nonfiction proposals , you can consult Jane Friedman’s How to Write a Book Proposal + Book Proposal Template blog post. For other help with writing and craft , check out this list of books that can help you on your way. There are endless resources out there to help you on your journey, so take some time to research and find what works for you.  

Also during this time, it can be helpful to connect with other writers, since they may have additional suggestions for resources to refer to, and some might even become critique partners or beta readers as you prepare your book for the query process, or pitch your manuscript to agents and publishers. Finding a community of writers who are in the same stage of the publishing quest as you are can also be an important source of moral support and you navigate the likely ups and downs of the process.  The easiest way to find other writers is via social media, and the hashtag #writercommunity on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok is a great place to start. Another path is to look for writers groups who meet either in person or virtually. The Poets & Writers website has a trove of suggestions for finding your community, including a directory of writing groups.

Joining SCBWI gives you access to all of the ins and outs of children’s book publishing if that’s your focus. SCBWI conferences offer an opportunity to build community as well as access publishing professionals to guide your path to publication.

Penguin Random House is working to remove systemic barriers for underrepresented voices by increasing access to and information about the publishing industry. If you’re looking for additional support and opportunities, check out the Black Creatives Fund with We Need Diverse Books, the Center for Fiction / Susan Kamil Emerging Writer Fellowships, and offerings from our partners and friends at Kundiman.  

Step Two: Find a literary agent 

Historically, most major publishers, including Penguin Random House, have not accepted unagented submissions, in large part because an agent plays a critical role in serving your interests in the business relationship you will have with a publisher. While we are working to create and expand open submission opportunities through programs like the Berkley Open Submission Program , in most cases an agent is still required and advisable.  

When it comes to finding a literary agent, the first step is to do your research and find agents who represent the kind of work that you write. You can start by researching the agents who represent authors whose work you believe is comparable to your own–often, the agents will be named in those books’ acknowledgments pages. From there, you can find out more about those agents or similar ones through resources such as Query Tracker , Poets & Writers Literary Agents Database , Writer’s Digest Books , or the Deals page on Publishers Marketplace .   

The next step is to create a query letter and synopsis for your book. When you query agents, note that each agent has their own specific submission requirements—to start, some will want to see your first five or ten pages, others will only want to see a query. Whatever the agent requests on their website, be sure to follow those instructions. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity with an agent because you sent the wrong materials. If an agent has interest in your project, they will respond requesting more material.  

One great resource for this stage of the writing process is Jane Friedman’s How to Find a Literary Agent blog post. 

Beware of scammers! It’s important to note that agents only get paid when they sell your work . The common relationship for an author and agent is that an agent will take a set percentage of the deal sales in exchange for their work earning the book deal and negotiating on your behalf. Be wary of agent or publisher scams out there that require money up-front to be traditionally published. The common saying is “money flows toward the author” and it’s always been a critical aspect of the publishing experience—getting a book deal should never be a “pay to play” scenario. One popular resource for investigating agent scams is  Writer Beware . Learn more on our PRH Fraud page.

Step Three: Collaborate with your literary agent to prepare your work for submission to editors 

Some agents use their expertise to suggest edits to your manuscript or proposal to prepare for submissions , which is when an agent submits your work to editors, who are independently responsible for selecting the manuscripts they want to publish, in hopes of attracting an offer. The process with your own agent may vary, but the goal will ultimately be the same. 

This process takes time, and there is no guarantee that your manuscript will find an editor who wants to publish it. Submissions very rarely lead to an offer in days. Many manuscripts take multiple rounds of submissions spanning weeks or even years to find the right home. In some cases, authors won’t be successful in selling their book to a publisher until their second or third manuscript, or beyond that. Though this can be a challenging time for authors, know that all parties involved want your project to find the right home, one that will provide the best chance to succeed.  

Step Four: (Hopefully!) Land a book deal 

If an editor shows interest in your project, they may ask other editorial colleagues for second reads. The process varies by imprint and publishing house, but most groups have regular acquisitions meetings in which the prospective editor presents your project to others on the publishing team. At this stage, they decide whether or not to make an offer. 

The editor will present a deal memo to your agent, who will compare that offer with any others. This process may take hours, days, or weeks. 

Ultimately, you have the final say over whether you will accept an offer, though you will likely discuss your options with your agent. After an offer is accepted, a contract will be drafted as well as the deal terms laid out in the memo. Minor negotiations will continue after this point, so if at any point you have questions about a contract draft, you should discuss them with your agent.  

Good luck on your writing journey. We sincerely hope to see you on our shelves someday!  

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What It's Like to Be a Published Author – Q&A

become a published author

Writing a book can be a long and challenging process. Particularly when you hit writer's block, or you don't agree with your editor's revisions. [Editor's note: reword for clarity!] But, it's all worth it to see your hard work in hardback, or to hear that it's helped someone.

No one becomes a published author overnight. In fact, only 50 percent of people who start writing a book actually finish!

Two of my colleagues know just what's involved. They're both in-house writers for Mind Tools, and published authors in their own right, too. Melanie Bell has written fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and Jonathan Hancock – winner of the World Memory Championship – has authored various memory-boosting books and, more recently, "The Study Book." Together they know so much about how to become a published author that they could write the book on it!

Melanie Bell and Jonathan Hancock

I was curious to know about the process, and what life lessons it taught them, so I asked them a series of questions. Spoiler alert: their answers contain some novel ideas for wannabe writers...

Starting a New Chapter

How did you become an author.

JH : I've loved writing ever since I learned to do it in elementary school! When I was 10, our teacher showed us how to make mini books about topics we were interested in, and I was instantly hooked on writing non-fiction. I enjoyed everything about it: researching, writing, editing – even putting the marketing messages on the cover! And a decade or so later, when I was asked by a publisher to write a real "how-to" book, I jumped at the chance.

MB : I wrote stories and poems from a young age. My first "professional" endeavor was self-publishing two poetry books as charity fundraisers, with support from a local grant. When I was teaching workshops about personality types, I was approached by a publisher and asked to co-write a book that became "The Modern Enneagram." I wrote most of the short stories in my collection "Dream Signs" and my forthcoming novel, "Chasing Harmony," years ago, so publication was a matter of submitting manuscripts repeatedly and waiting until the market was right.

Who or what inspired you to write your own books?

MB : When I was a child, my mother wrote a children’s story that she tried to get published. She was encouraging of my early interest in storytelling and would help me make little books out of scrap paper. The books I read were major influences too. I loved spending time in imaginary worlds, and I wanted to create them the way all those authors did.

JH : In my early 20s, I had some success in memory competitions. Following a TV appearance, I was approached by a literary agent who suggested that I could write a book explaining my techniques. I agreed to let him pursue a publishing deal for me, and he got me a contract to write my first book: "Jonathan Hancock's Mindpower System." I'd read plenty of good self-help books about memory and learning, so I suppose they also inspired me to write one of my own.

When and where do you write?

JH : I wrote that first book while I was still at university. And all but one of my other books have been written while I was holding down full-time jobs. So I've got used to carving out writing time in the evening and at weekends, and working wherever I happen to be – usually in any quiet space at home, but also on trains, in breaks during TV filming, even while waiting to pick up one of my children from an after-school club!

MB : I try to write something most days, though timing can vary depending on my schedule. I usually work on ongoing projects at home, but I keep notes on an app if I have an idea while out and about.

What do you enjoy about writing?

MB : I enjoy the exhilaration of creating something new and seeing an idea move in unanticipated directions. I also love playing with language.

JH : I love researching and planning a book: clarifying my own thinking and working out how to present my ideas. Then I enjoy working to a writing schedule, solving any problems that arise, and seeing the manuscript grow, bit by bit, until everything's in place.

How to Write Like a Published Author

What are the biggest challenges of writing a book.

MB : Writing a book is a long process, and each project is different. It can be hard to maintain momentum and get to the finish line, especially if I get stuck in the middle and have to figure out a way forward.

JH : A blank page or screen is always challenging. And it can feel even more daunting when you've got an entire book to complete. (Especially if you focus on the word count – 100,000 words, say – when you're starting at 0!) Ideas that seem fine in your head can reveal problems when you write them down. And I always have to resist the pull of " perfectionism " in order to achieve some momentum. Getting to the end takes patience, stamina, and the willingness to ask for feedback or advice when you need it.

How do you overcome writer's block?

JH : I usually write out of sequence – starting with a core chapter, for example, or leaving the Introduction until the end. So, if I'm struggling with one part, I can leave it for a while and work on another. And if I'm really stuck, I focus on getting something down on paper, and remind myself that there'll be plenty of time to improve it later.

MB : I go on walks and mull over ideas. I pay attention to interesting dreams, and I keep my phone close (like most of us do) so I can record any inspiration that strikes. Sometimes I unblock by talking with other people, who offer an outside perspective on the block.

What are your top writing tips?

MB : Sit down and write something! The blank page can be daunting, but if you want to create something, you need to jump in at some point. (Yes, planning can be a form of jumping in.) I also advise knowing yourself and accepting your quirks. We all work in different ways, so everyone's writing process is going to be a little different. Let yourself write like you.

JH : One tip would definitely be to write about things that you know about, or can easily find out about. If not, you'll have a lot of work to do before you can start writing, and you'll likely find it hard to get into your flow .

Another would be to read plenty of successful books from the same genre or on similar topics. That will show you what works, and suggest some of the publishers or platforms you could approach. It should also get you thinking about what you could do differently : what value you could add to this field.

And one more tip: get feedback from people who really know what they're talking about! Friends and family will be kind and supportive, but you also need professional advice to know whether you're on the path to being published, and what else you can do to improve your chances.

Getting Your Book Published

What was the publishing process like.

MB : With self-publishing, you have complete control, but you also take on responsibility for all aspects of running that small business. With a traditional publisher, you're collaborating. You have to work with someone else's schedule, editorial input, and so on. You also benefit from their ideas and connections. My first traditional publisher had a very fast turnaround time, with weekly deadlines for chapters. In the other cases, I submitted finished manuscripts that were then edited, but the timelines were much longer.

JH : I've been lucky to work with literary agents and established publishers. They've always guided me through the writing, editing and production processes. It's important to have a clear plan agreed by everyone involved , with a contract that you understand, deadlines for key stages, and good lines of communication. Publishing has always gone best for me when I've had close, ongoing contact with an editor, so that I've received feedback during the writing process rather than having to wait until the whole manuscript was done.

How does it feel to have your work published?

JH : I always feel tremendously proud – and more than a little relieved – when a book finally appears in its finished form. It's so exciting to see your work sitting on a bookstore shelf! I also love hearing from people who've read one of my books, especially if it's helped them in some way.

MB : It's always exciting to get that box of author copies with your name on it! Seeing a shorter piece published online or in print is great too. It's surreal to have a book out and hear from people who've read it. Your writing is out in the world now. It's no longer just yours, sitting in a private file.

How do you deal with people critiquing or editing your work?

MB : I'm happy to have an editor because it means my work is getting published! Revisions are a balance between adapting your writing based on feedback when it's helpful or neutral, and negotiating when you made an authorial decision for a strong reason.

JH : It's nerve-racking to hand over your writing for someone else to read. In mainstream publishing, a subject specialist will usually critique your proposal – so you receive detailed feedback before you've even started page one! And if you do get to write the book, you'll have to cope with many people offering suggestions and advice, asking for changes, making corrections… until everyone's happy. You need a thick skin to handle criticism; the confidence to push back if necessary; and the willingness to negotiate and work as a team to bring the project home.

How has the experience of writing and publishing a book helped your career?

MB : I think my writing helped me get my current day job. I studied creative writing in graduate school and held writing-adjacent positions, such as being a writing tutor or editor. Now I have a full-time role where writing is a significant part of what I do.

JH : Writing my first book gained me a strong set of contacts in publishing, which helped me to secure more deals – which built my network even more. Writing has opened up opportunities for me to travel, to talk about my work at events, and to branch out into some new professional areas – through broadcasting and teaching to my current role at Mind Tools. Publishing has also given me insights into the work of editors, designers and marketeers, allowing me to develop my own skills in these areas. And I think that writing hones lots of valuable personal and professional strengths, too, such as organization, collaboration, attention to detail, and resilience!

The Moral of the Story

What life lessons has being published taught you.

JH : Writing books has shown me that you can squeeze a lot out of your time if you really want to. But you have to be disciplined, and you need supportive family and friends. Writing to a deadline can be an intense experience and a satisfying challenge, but it's important to look after your wellbeing while you're doing it, and to be honest with yourself and others about what's possible. And I feel like I've done my best work when I've enjoyed the process , rather than just the finished product.

MB : Two life lessons I'm still learning from this journey are persistence and humility. Publishing is a long game that can involve dealing with a lot of rejection and failure.

Do you think that anyone can become a published author?

JH : There are so many different ways to get published. Many people self-publish their work with great success, but there's also a wide range of publishing outlets looking for content. If you struggle with writing but are determined to be a published author, see if a friend or colleague can offer their literary skills. There are also professional "ghost writers" who help people to get their ideas and experiences into print. If you choose your genre or topic sensibly and access any advice and support you need, there's no reason why anyone can't achieve publication in one form or another.

MB : With self-publishing, yes. There are all kinds of ways to put your work out there. With traditional publishing, I think a lot depends on luck. But, if you build skill and persist, there's room for many different voices out there.

What advice would you give to a budding writer or someone who wants to be a published author?

JH : If you want to do it, go for it! Don't assume that published writers are special or unique, because it's usually a combination of drive, organization, support, luck, and sheer willpower that gets them into print. Be prepared for hard work and plenty of knock-backs. Enjoy the writing process – even if the only person who ever reads your work is you! And commit yourself to developing your writing skills, discovering how the publishing industry works, and learning how to become a published author.

MB : Practice your craft and build your audience. Learn about the business of writing and make connections. Pay attention to what interests you and write about it. Imitation can be a great way to learn writing, but finding your own voice is invaluable. No one else can write what you can write.

What other questions do you have for Melanie and Jonathan? Ask them in the comments! And feel free to share your tips for aspiring authors, too.

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Last updated on May 02, 2022

How to Become a Writer: 7 Practical Steps

If you’re dreaming of turning your passion for writing into a full-time career, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll go through a series of actionable steps that you can take to start writing professionally. 

Here are 7 steps to help you become a writer:

1. Create a solid writing routine 

How To Become a Writer | A writer is ready get work done

Here are a few tips for establishing a writing habit:

Make writing a priority. If you want to be a professional writer, set non-negotiable writing time in your calendar and arrange your other commitments around it. 

Define your writing goals. Whether it’s a daily number of words or completing a task in a set number of days, goals help break larger projects into manageable chunks — so you’ll be less overwhelmed and more likely to knuckle down and write.

Identify your ideal writing times . Do you tend to get the most done right after waking up in the morning, or during the quiet hours of the evening? Figure out your windows of productivity and capitalize on them.  



How to Build a Solid Writing Routine

In 10 days, learn to change your habits to support your writing.

However, no matter how watertight your writing routines are, every author can benefit from a helping hand to perform at their best and become an even better writer. Thankfully, there are some apps for that.

2. Use writing tools to improve your output 

How To Become a Writer | A writer is writing at her desk

Different tools can impact your output in different ways: for example, online whiteboards like Miro can help you visually sketch out your book’s outline and character bios, and help you define the mood of your world-building. Tools like Grammarly can identify and fix typos and grammatical errors, whereas browser blockers like Cold Turkey can help to minimize distractions and stay productive. 

When it comes to using professional writing software, you could use tools like Reedsy Book Editor to enjoy smooth collaborative editing, keep track of your word count goals, and format your book for distribution. 

Which writing app is right for you?

Find out here! Takes 30 seconds

Finally, workspace tools like ergonomic chairs and standing desks can also largely influence the quality and proficiency of your writing (we also hear that houseplants can boost creativity, but don’t quote us on that).

But, before you get too comfortable in your writing nook surrounded by all your lovely tools, you may want to consider going back to class…

3. Take classes to pick up credentials

How To Become a Writer | A student is taking notes about Creative Writing

  • Journalist — write for newspapers and magazines. Requires top-notch research skills, the ability to be objective, and to meet strict deadlines.
  • Columnist — write for newspapers and magazines. Unlike journalists, columnists offer their subjective opinion and insight on current events.
  • Travel writer —  chronicle your adventures across the globe to give advice and inspiration to other travelers.
  • Copywriter — write marketing copy for brands, companies, or organizations.
  • Technical writer — turn complex jargon into concise information that users of a product or clients of a company can clearly understand.
  • Web content writer — write online blog posts and articles for brands, companies, or organizations.
  • Ghostwriter — write content on behalf of other people or organizations. Learn more about becoming a ghostwriter here!
  • Grant writer — write documents to help organizations seeking grants.

The options are plentiful. But if you think you’ll need academic credentials, let's take a look at your choices in closer detail. 



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You needn't look too hard to find authors who emerged from MFA programs to establish glittering literary careers. For example, both Flannery O’Connor and Rachel Kushner are MFA babies.

Then again, you can find just as many authors who didn’t study anything related to writing and worked in completely unrelated industries before becoming bestsellers  — like Charles Bukowski (a postman), Haruki Murakami (a jazz club manager), and even Harper Lee (an airline ticket clerk). After all, life experience is a key ingredient of any good fiction.

Becoming a novelist doesn’t require any specific credentials beyond the ability to write (and market) a great story. Pursuing an MFA can certainly help you develop your craft, network with established and aspiring writers, or lead you to some creative writing gigs, but it’s not a shortcut to success. In addition, the majority of MFA programs focus on literary fiction, creative nonfiction , and poetry . So if you want to become a fiction writer, an MFA is likely not a necessary stepping stone for you.

Bachelor’s Degree (BA)

While higher education is not a required credential for becoming a novelist , academic qualifications can be more important for nonfiction writers. In many cases, success as a nonfiction author relies upon your subject authority and often necessitates the relevant credentials as proof. That might include a degree or other relevant experience in the field. Imagine yourself picking up a nonfiction book and turning it over to read the author's bio : what kind of credentials would assure you this is someone who knows what they’re talking about?

In terms of journalism, most news outlets will require applicants to have completed a Bachelor’s degree before adding them to the payroll. While majoring in journalism is certainly a sound option, many news outlets require a literature degree or similar, as you’ll have many of the same skills but no biases in your journalistic practices. It's also typical to double-major or major-minor in a combination of journalism and the field you’re interested in writing about.

Doctorate (Ph.D.) 

A Ph.D. in literature or creative writing is often preferred by people who want to teach literature or writing at college or university levels. Overall, a doctorate may also be appropriate if your writing draws extensively from academic research or scientific findings — as it will give you more subject-matter authority. 

Associate Degree

An associate degree typically lasts two years and can be more industry-focused than a BA. If you’re hoping to become a copywriter or web content writer, pursuing an associate degree in media, marketing, or writing might be a good way to lay the foundation for your career.


Certificates are short-term programs that provide foundational education and skills-based training. They typically last a few weeks to a few months, and, as with the associate degree, it’s a good option for aspiring freelance writers .

How to become a writer | List of academic credentials for different jobs

4. Seek opportunities to publish your work

How to become a writer | A writer writes starts writing a story

If you’re an aspiring fiction writer, follow the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin and Ernest Hemingway, and get your foot in the door by submitting your short stories to magazines and contests . Here are a few places where you can do just that:

  • Literary magazines accepting submissions
  • Vetted writing contests and their deadlines
  • Reedsy’s own weekly short story contest
  • Publications accepting short story submissions

To ensure your t’s and i's are all properly crossed and dotted, here is a submissions checklist that’s sure to keep you straight!

Make the process of writing your first novel easier by using a story template like the one below.



Get our Book Development Template

Use this template to go from a vague idea to a solid plan for a first draft.

Nonfiction writers have ample opportunity to get their byline out in the world too. If there’s a particular niche you’re interested in, start by putting together a list of relevant publications. Most websites will have a submission section with guidelines for submitting a piece. 

Follow specific editors on Twitter to keep up with when magazines are accepting pitches. They will usually tweet when their inbox is open (and what they’re looking for in a pitch) — plus many of them are open to questions. If you don't know where to find them, look for names via magazine websites, the publication’s LinkedIn page, or simply use the Twitter search function. Editors of magazines usually tell you who they are in their Twitter bio!

Put your pitches and deadlines in a calendar

Next, get your ‘pitching calendar’ organized by listing the outlets you want to write for, your premise for each pitch, and any deadlines to keep in mind. You might also want to make note of any feedback you receive. For instance, an outlet might let you know that your piece wasn’t right for them “at this time,” or they might clarify what they’re looking for in more specific terms. 

Here are a few resources that connect writers with publications looking for submissions:

  • Authors Publish Newsletter
  • NewPages Classifications
  • Funds for Writers Newsletter

Consider self-publishing

If you have a book idea you can’t stop thinking about and your goal is to see it materialized, then you might want to consider self-publishing. Getting your book out into the world is easier than it’s ever been, and we’ve detailed the whole process in another guide . Plus, you can do it in your own time. 

Though some traditionally published household names nab hundreds of thousands in advances, those are the outliers. Many more self-published authors make a living from their writing than their traditionally published counterparts: this report found that the number of indie authors earning five to six figures per year from book sales was much higher than the number of Big 5 authors earning the same. 

If you’re still on the fence about which publishing route to take, why not take this one-minute quiz to find out for sure which option is the most viable for you?

Is self-publishing or traditional publishing right for you?

Takes one minute!

Once you start to get a few publications under your belt, it’s time to put them together in a nicely bundled portfolio that shows the world (and potential clients) what you’re capable of. 

5. Create a strong portfolio 

How to become a writer | A beautiful author's website

Create a website

To create your own website, you must first register a domain name on services like GoDaddy or Namecheap (e.g. authorname.com), or sign up for a free site with services like WordPress, Wix, or SquareSpace (e.g. authorname.wordpress.com) 一 although the first option is more professional. If you're not too confident in your tech skills, consider hiring a professional web designer who can help you build a website that stands out.

Use a portfolio site

If you don’t want to spend too much time designing a website, you can always turn to a trusted portfolio site. All you need to do is create an account with them and input your personal information. Here are a few popular options:

  • MuckRack: a popular platform for journalists and PR professionals.
  • Contently: a useful site for content writers.
  • Clippings.me: provides a clean-cut design for every kind of writer.

Perfect your website

Your author website should reflect your personality, list your credentials, and most importantly — show your work. 

There are different ways to present your portfolio: you could divide your writing into different niches like Jennifer Fernandez , or you could go for a concise bio that packs a punch in terms of insight into your professional background as in Alice Driver ’s portfolio. For author websites , it’s key to give visitors a clear route to buying any books you’ve published (check Austin Kleon ’s example). 

Once your website is live, it might take a while for word of mouth to spread and for job opportunities to come your way. So, while you get the ball rolling, consider reaching out to organizations that could help you support your dream (read: paying the bills!).

6. Apply for writing grants 

How to become a writer | A writer receives a paycheck

Here’s a reliable list of grants for you to peruse — some will have no stipulations regarding what the money is spent on, and others will be for specific reasons, like traveling to a writers’ retreat or conference. There are also many grants specifically intended to help marginalized communities get a leg up in the industry. Make sure you check out our video guide for some helpful advice on making a successful application.

VfUT695Ca08 Video Thumb

Whether or not your career will benefit from scoring a grant, you’ll soon learn that if you want to reach new literary heights and establish yourself as a writer, you’ll need the help of other professionals in the space.

7. Collaborate with professional editors

How to become a writer | A writer and an editor collaborate successfully

An editor’s bread and butter is to revise your work so that it’s ready for the big stage, from spotting plot holes, improving text quality, and examining your manuscript for inconsistencies before its release. More than that, working with an editor will teach you about the ins and outs of the publishing industry — including the all-important standards and best practices of the literary world. 

Finding a good editor is always a type of collaboration worth investing in if you want to speed up your development and make a leap forward in your journey to become a professional writer.

Hopefully, this post has shown you how to get things going so that you can make writing a financially viable career. To wrap things up, there’s nothing quite as inspiring for budding writers as words of wisdom from those who have achieved writerly acclaim. So tuck into these brilliant books about writing , and then pick up your pen and get going. We look forward to seeing your name in print!

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How to Become a Published Author

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Self Publishing Resources

How To Become An Author: 8 Best Author Habits You Must Know And Learn

  • April 4, 2022

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.

Screenwriter Salary

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.

How To Become An Author

Starting Out

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.

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:

  • 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.

How To Become An Author

2. Scheduling

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.

6. Exercise

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 we ll-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.

How To Become An Author, creative writing, writing prompts, short stories

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.

Test Readers

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.

How To Become An Author, writing skills, creative writing

Traditional Publishing

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.

Online Self-Publishing

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.

In Conclusion

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.

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6 steps to become a published author & share your writing with the world.


Have you dreamed about writing and publishing a book?

Many writers work towards getting their work published as a significant career goal. While some writers write for income and others may write for the joy of the art, becoming a published author is an accomplishment either way.

If you’ve been hard at work writing your book, the steps it actually takes to get your book published may not be at the front of your mind. However, once your book is written, there are important steps to take to get your book published.

Steps to Become a Published Author

Let’s look at the stages to become a published author and sharing your writing with the world!

1. Pick a Topic and Age Group

If you haven’t already, your first task is to choose a topic for your book. This can be surprisingly difficult for authors if they don’t already have a topic or theme in mind for their book.

While many people think “novel” when they think about books, there are also cookbooks, travel books, coffee table books, memoirs, biographies, self-help books - the list goes on. There are numerous genres and writing styles to choose from, so figure out what works best for you.

When choosing a writing style, you should also consider what age you’re targeting. If you plan to publish a children’s book, each age group requires different levels of vocabulary. When writing for younger audiences, you also have to consider what topics and content are appropriate for each age group.

Whether you’re writing for young children, young adults, or adults, consider your audience. 

2. Write Your Book

Easier said than done, but you’ll have to write your book before you can publish it. If this book is a project you’ve been working on, this step may already be completed. If not, get typing! 

When writing your book, consider factors like length. It’s helpful to write out an outline first, whether it’s by chapter, plot point, or some other element to break your book into sections.

Try to be clear and concise when writing - not everyone has to be Hemingway, but be sure that your sentences make sense. 

Many authors create a schedule of when and how often they write each day. Aim to write at least a few pages a day to make progress on your book.


3. Edit Your Book

You should always revise your first draft, and probably your second and third.

Editing is a careful process, and it takes a few reads to get it right. Even if you thoroughly self-edit , however, it’s important to get another set of eyes on your book.

We recommend working with an editor to ensure that your book is clean of errors and that the plot flows in a way that makes sense. You may not have the budget to hire a professional editor, but it’s possible to ask honest friends with good reading or writing skills to give you feedback.

You can even ask multiple friends or family members for opinions, so you don’t have just one opinion. Ask for honest feedback, and try to have a thick skin when you receive said feedback. Constructive criticism will only help to improve your book. 

A professional editor is a great resource for feedback, edits, and formatting, which can be difficult for first time authors to figure out on their own. 

4. Pitch Your Book 

Many first-time authors choose to self-publish, but it’s worth trying the traditional route first.

Research literary agents or publishers in your genre, or ones that publish books similar to yours. Hiring an agent can be extremely beneficial in getting your foot in the door at a publishing house, but you could also submit your work directly to a publisher. 

Whether you go directly to a publisher or through an agent, be sure to carefully read submission criteria and requirements. You may only have one shot, so pitch your book as best as you possibly can.

Write either a query letter or book proposal. You may want to do this step first, but if you’ve never been published before, an agent or publisher will want to see the finished book before they agree to publish anything anyway. 

If you are accepted by an agent or a publisher, they will set you up with an editor and take you through the steps like choosing the cover art, formatting, and confirming final edits. They can also help promote and market your book.

If you’re not having luck with the traditional publishing route, not to worry. Self-publishing a book is very feasible and easier than ever. 

5. Self Publish Your Book

It can be seriously difficult to get signed by an agent or publishing house, but self-publishing is still a viable option. To self publish , you have to choose between an e-book or a physical book. E-books are easier to self publish, but many authors prefer a physical book.

Research and contact a book printer to begin this process. A book printer will help you through formatting, choosing page size and type of paper, hard or soft covers, and more. Those in the book printing business are experienced in self-publishing and can help you on your way. 

Once you’ve connected with a printer, you’ll have a few more tasks on your plate. You can design a cover on your own, or find an artist to do so for you.

Other design elements to figure out include font, page style, pictures (if necessary), author bio, and more. Your printer will work with you to ensure that these steps are all completed before printing.


6. Promote Your Book

With your book written, edited, and published, it is vital that you promote your book if you want to make sales. This is an essential step. Readers won’t know your book is out if you don’t tell them.

Most authors have a digital platform set up, from a website to social media profiles to promote their book. Post blog posts about your book, or ask other websites to link to your book.

Spread the word in whatever way possible to get your book out there. You can also contact local bookstores about selling your books and offer readings to reach new readers.

Marketing your book is a process that may take time - never stop promoting your book if you want it to really sell. Keep writing and honing your craft.

Now that you’ve published one book, you’ll get the hang of it. Then, you can continue to write and publish more books and reap the benefits of it, including instant expert status .

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How To Become An Author

  • Carolyn Manion Kinnie
  • February 21, 2022

Table of Contents

Becoming a published author is an exciting milestone in any aspiring writer’s journey. Getting there successfully can be a long and arduous road–but it is so worth it when you hold the first freshly-printed copy in your hands!

If you landed here, you’re probably trying to make your writing hobby up to more than a hobby.

Whether you’re an experienced blogger, a fantasy novelist, or an industry expert with ideas to share, we’re here to help.

Today we’re outlining the journey to becoming an author in three stages: polishing your craft, getting published, and maintaining your career.

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1. Becoming a good writer

Before you put a book on the market, you have to ensure that your writing is high quality. Even if you follow the fastest, most affordable path to self-publishing, this rule still applies. Practice makes perfect, so spend time honing your craft and watch your talent grow until you hit a sweet spot of high-quality, engaging style. Rushing into publishing before your writing hits that sweet spot will only damage your credibility as an author.

How do you get good feedback and writing practice without publishing a book? Oh, so many ways. This is really the fun part for many aspiring authors! You can get comfortable with your style while building a community and a personal writing brand at the same time.

Depending on your niche, your path to becoming a good writer could look very different. The most important advice –I cannot emphasize this enough–is to keep writing. If you are not already a full-time writer (e.g. blogger, copywriter, technical writer), it’s time to start writing as a side gig (a blog, a column, a newsletter).

If you want to write to help people solve problems–whether in their business or personal lives– narrowing your focus is key . Your first book will have to have a unique angle and a unique solution for readers. If this sounds daunting, try your hand at blog-writing or starting a topical newsletter. When you see what resonates with your readers, you will find the problem they want you to solve and see where to focus your writing skills.

Watch out for the looming specter of perfectionism or imposter syndrome . Writing is an art that takes time, so don’t be discouraged by poor feedback at the start of your writing journey. Consider each disappointment a new lesson and don’t stop writing! The more you write and edit your own work, the faster your writing quality will improve.

Along the same lines, dealing with writer’s block is always discouraging. If you’re finally working on a project with a deadline & paycheck, it can be devastating. But if the page at hand feels impossible to finish, you can use this time wisely! Revisit old inspirations, rehash rejected proposals from the past and read some of your favorite authors in your niche.

Writer’s block is also a great opportunity to edit what you’ve already written…and perhaps find new conclusions for your own work hidden between the lines.  

2. Getting published

There are two paths to publishing your first book, self-publishing and traditional publishing. Starting with self-publishing, we will outline the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is right for you!

You can publish a book in just a couple of weeks if you self-publish. The process is easier than ever these days, and we highly recommend it to first-time authors. Self-publishing gives you a great deal of freedom. It’s an easy way to dip your toe into the world of authorship without the stress that a publishing house might inflict.

Self-publishing can be as easy (and affordable) as uploading and formatting a book onto Amazon’s Kindle publisher. But don’t stop there! With some research and a little money upfront, you can self-publish a hard copy of your book that will wow readers.

To make your self-published work stand out, you will need not only the assurance of high-quality writing but also the best possible “extras”.  No MS Paint cover images allowed…unless your book is about your journey to becoming a graphic designer in the 90s.

It is essential to invest your time abundantly and wisely in editing, proofreading, graphic design, choosing a publishing platform, and every other decision you have to make. That’s right–all the decisions are up to you! This creative freedom is why many first-time authors self-publish. And with that freedom comes a lot of responsibility.

Pros of self-publishing:

  • Creativity and vision have no limits: nobody is breathing down your neck with a red pen, making you change your entire message at the last minute, or cutting out your favorite chapter.
  • You get more money per sale: depending on what platform you use to self-publish, you could make 35–70% per sale–far more than the average in traditional publishing.
  • You set your own deadlines, launch dates, and everything else: especially if writing is not yet your full-time job, you don’t have to risk the rollercoaster of deadlines, delays, and disasters that can befall a first-time author in traditional publishing. If something comes up in your personal life, you can take a break, and your book will still be there ready to publish when you come back! Enjoy your freedom from the bureaucratic delays and setbacks of the traditional publishing process.

Cons of self-publishing:

  • Scammer alert: some companies that claim to facilitate the self-publishing process will do a terrible job! Do your research, ask for proofs, and steer clear of even the slightest hint of suspicion.
  • The production costs are all on you: as is the time commitment for finding an editor, graphic designer, proofreader, etc.
  • All the marketing is on you: While traditional publishers often still require authors to have a promotion plan, the name of the publisher will play a big role. When you self-publish, you don’t have the advantage of the recognizable Harper-Collins or Penguin Random House logo on your book’s spine. You will have to establish the credibility of your book entirely on your own…and even if it is the greatest book on the topic ever written, you could fail to get it in front of enough readers.
  • The upfront cost of self–publishing is usually between $2000.00 and $4000.00, but you get to set the price and collect most of the money for your book!

So long as you are a good marketer (or hire one), self-publishing is a great way to get eyes on your work early on. With enough sales, you could easily gain the credibility to work with a publisher for your next book!

Have you already established yourself in the self-publishing space, or are you a well-known authority in your field? If you can write a unique proposal for a book unlike any other, you are ready to follow the route of traditional publishing to become an author.

Hiring a literary agent is essential for a first-timer in the traditional publishing space. While it can seem frustrating to add yet another middleman to the mix, an agent will be your advocate in the grim and cutthroat world of publishing houses.

Your agent will work off of commission, and thus only work with you if you already have a great elevator pitch for your book. This is good because you will need an amazing proposal for your agent to show publishers anyway.

To become an author via traditional publishing, the biggest task is to craft an amazing, airtight book proposal that speaks to your writing talent and your unique idea. Your agent will help you finesse your proposal before pitching to publishers, leaving you to focus on the writing!

Pros of traditional publishing:

  • Lower production costs: Your publisher will take care of editing, graphic design, and all the details that would otherwise fall to you. Your job is just to write.
  • Marketing boost: from the prestige & brand recognition of the publisher. While you might still be in charge of a launch team or marketing to your community of readers, having a publisher will give you a huge credibility boost. The most obvious benefit here: your book can appear in brick-and-mortar bookstores right away.
  • Opportunity for literary prizes: Not much to add here, except that traditional publishing is almost the only way to get in the mix for prestigious book awards, bestseller lists, etc.

Cons of traditional publishing:

  • It is a long and arduous process, and the odds are slim: The timeline you set at the beginning of the publishing process will likely drag on and on, despite your best efforts to meet deadlines. Unwelcome editing decisions might take you off guard, and there is always a chance that the deal falls through at the last minute.
  • You receive a lower cut of the royalties: If you’re lucky, you’ll get 20%. Many authors get closer to 5%.
  • You could sign away some of your rights: and there are a lot of rights you might not even know about. If your book has potential for becoming a movie or documentary, for example, your publisher will probably try to lay claim to those rights from the outset. Other contractual fine print includes: translations, foreign sales, reprinting, later editions…when negotiating, think carefully about what you’re willing to let go of!
  • If you’re a novice writer and have published relatively little standalone written material to a large audience before, we recommend self-publishing.

If you already have a following for your writing, are a respected expert in your field, or have published guides, courses, or other products that utilize the same ideas as your book, go for traditional publishing!

3. Maintaining your career as an author

Whether you choose self-publishing or traditional publishing, the journey to becoming an author does not stop there. Creating awareness is key to riding the wave of your first book onto a fully-fledged career as an author.

Before, during, and after the publishing process, there are many ways to build your authorial brand. Try to incorporate some of these strategies from the start of your path to becoming a published author. If you hope to shift from self-publishing to a big-name traditional publisher, these strategies are key!

What should be your first priority for your personal brand awareness, especially during the digital age?

Creating an engaging community around your writing.

Building a community should ideally start before you publish your first book, whether through social media, blogging, speaking, a launch team who fuels anticipation, or all of the above.

A community of readers will serve you beyond the role of an audience–they will be the living proof of your popularity and success. Their testimonies will give you credibility, their recommendations will give you sales, and their lives will improve because they read your book!

Maybe you already have a community of fans who are thrilled about your first published book, but how do you keep up the hype? How do you get those book sales to bring in enough cash so you can quit your day job and be a full-time author?

The path to profitable full-time writing is different for everyone, but promoting your work and personal brand is essential.

Let’s wrap things up.

Becoming an author is a dream for many that few achieve. If you’ve made it this far, I firmly believe you have the guts, talent, and determination to achieve it. It may be a long road but think of the day you stand on the stage before an auditorium of thousands at a book launch event that sold out within minutes. Even if your first book flops, remind yourself that many famous authors faced rejection at the beginning of their careers!

Get started by developing impressively good writing skills, decide whether you’ll go with traditional or self-publishing, and build an awesome brand as an author. The road may be long, but huge success awaits.

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If all these ideas for becoming an author are swimming around in your head, here is a refresher of the basics:

How much money does an author make?

Traditionally published authors average between 50k and six figures. Self-published authors rarely make enough to write full-time at first, but supplementing your income with speaking and creating other products will help you get there!

What qualifications do you need to be an author?

If you have a great idea, subject expertise, and know your audience, writing skills are all it takes to qualify for publishing a book.

How many years does it take to become an author?

Perfecting your writing content and style can take years, but moving from aspiring writer to published author can take just a few weeks!

Can anyone be an author?

Absolutely! If you can write well and either solve a problem nobody else has solved before, or have a unique idea that does not yet exist in print, you have what it takes.

  • Last Updated: February 6, 2024

Carolyn Manion Kinnie

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In Today's Competitive World,​ There Is Probably A Similar Business To Yours On Every Corner Making Competition Fierce.

It takes 6 seconds, a quick finger click and they move on. As a business owner, you need to capture a prospect’s attention quickly and effectively.

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STOP Playing The “Price War Games” & Start Practicing “Authority Marketing”

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Grow As A Published Author

Authority Marketing is when you position your business and you as the authority for what you do.

It’s when consumers are drawn to you rather than you pushing yourself and/or your business on people. It’s the difference between practicing pull marketing and push marketing.

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Pull Marketing Is When You Create Action And Situations For Consumers To Raise Their Hands And Say,

Yes i am interested in what you offer., growing your business with your book is easy when you have a recipe, once you become published, you will be able to:.

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Imagine this is happening and how it will transform your business!

Don't fight for scraps. get noticed and charge the prices you deserve..

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The Process

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Questions To Ask Yourself... Are You Practicing Authority Marketing?

  • Does your online presence show differentiation between you and your competition?
  • Are you asked to speak and give advice on your expertise to your community?
  • Are you an influencer in your community?
  • Do you have videos educating your target market?
  • Have you written a book or published an e-book?
  • Do you have articles published in magazines?
  • Are you considered the “go-to person” for your expertise?
  • Are you interviewed on the radio, TV, magazines,, etc?

Did you answer YES? If so, great! You are on the right path! If you answered NO, you need to improve and make changes to improve your positioning.

Being an author will give you immediate….

  • Authority & Expertise
  • Celebrity Status
  • Expertise In Your Industry
  • Dramatic Differentiation
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  • Demand For What You Do

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All About Injectables | Michele Landry | A Published Author

You Might Be Thinking...

I can't write.

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We have a process that we take you through to get the information out of your head onto paper.

I Don't Have Time

We know that TIME is your most precious asset. That is why we came up with an easy system to help you write your book in one weekend!

The goal is to save you hundreds of hours of time and frustration by showing you the way on how to write your book.

I Don't Know Where To Start

During the weekend together, you will be guided on exactly how to write your book.

The process is so easy you will be shocked.

I Have No Idea How To Publish A Book

You don’t need to. We will do everything for you.

Just show up for the two days, go through the process, and we will do the rest.

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Post-Seminar Process

Below is the post-seminar process for you to become published..

  • We will connect you with a professional editor (Based on the size of your book, additional charges may apply)
  • Design your book cover
  • Format your book and provide you a PDF file
  • Post it on Kindle and Amazon
  • Provide you with printing resources (Printing not included)
  • Teach you how to market your business using the book

We will do all the heavy lifting for you!

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Gen Z is bringing back reading

BookTok and Kaia Gerber help make printed books popular again

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Here's a tip for older folks looking to keep up with the latest trends among young people: Go to the library.

It's a "surprising Gen Z plot twist," The Guardian said. Young adults and adolescents — folks born between 1997 and 2012 — are really into reading. Real books, the kind you find on paper. Leading the way: Kaia Gerber, the 22-year-old model-actress daughter of Gen X icon Cindy Crawford, this week launched her own book club. "Books have always been the great love of my life," Gerber said. "Reading is so sexy."

But Gen Z readers don't need an influencer to embrace books. At The Conversation , Portland State University's Kathi Inman Berens and Rachel Noorda said their research found that "Gen Zers and millennials prefer books in print over e-books and audiobooks" which has manifested in an "unlikely love affair with their local libraries." Why? Maybe it's because libraries are "free from the insipid creep of commercialism." There are no ads and fees: You simply can check out a book for free.

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That's heartening news for libraries facing budget cuts and book bans, Lora Kelly said at The Atlantic . Even Gen Z respondents who don't identify as readers still like hanging out at the library, looking for "events, classes, or simply to find community." That's because modern libraries offer more than just reading material: "They are also about providing people with a 'third place' for programming, services, and socializing."

Instagram and BookTok

Technology is a big part of this story. The Wall Street Journal said Gerber's Instagram page is where "hundreds of thousands" of people have watched her interviews "with bold-faced names and authors like Lena Dunham, Jane Fonda and Emily Ratajkowski." Her new, "more formal" online book club — named Library Science — will feature even more author interviews. "Most other book clubs are geared towards millennials and moms," said one publishing executive. "But younger people read a lot too, and having a peer with great literary taste making recommendations" is still relatively rare.

Is it? One phenomenon to come out of the COVID lockdown in 2020 was BookTok , a corner of TikTok where young readers "go to find a new series, share their opinions and connect with authors," Saige Steele said at The Lumberjack , the student newspaper at Northern Arizona University. The subculture has created bestsellers and racked up billions of page views for its host platform, a "positive and healthy niche that has brought back the beloved pastime of relaxing with a good story."

But some critics say BookTok has "commodified reading," Greta Patterson said at Colorado College's The Catalyst. Influencers can turn some books into hits, or ignore worthy works that become "an instant flop." Technology has thus transformed the act of reading into just another version of "fast fashion." "The rise of influencers has increased overconsumption in every aspect of the world," Patterson said, "reading being no exception."

Socializing at 'reading parties'

Reading can be a solitary act, but it doesn't have to be. New York has seen the rise of "reading parties," Molly Young said at The New York Times . The events take place "on rooftops, in parks and at bars" where people show up, spend some time knocking out a few pages, and then "chat with strangers about what you've just read." It's a great way to spend time with people without the distractions of a smartphone, said the founder of one event. "I got an hour of reading done and I hung out with some of my best friends, which I'd wanted to do anyway," he said. 

You know who loves these trends? Booksellers. "There's been all of this innovation and change, but it has reinforced reading and reinforced reading real books," said James Daunt, who oversees Barnes & Noble and British bookseller Waterstones. The Independent said that the book business was hurting a decade ago, thanks to Amazon and the rise of e-readers. Now, Daunt said, "if you look at what young people are doing now — they're reading proper books, which is fantastic."

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Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who has spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His work also regularly appears in National Geographic, The Kansas City Star and Heatmap News. His awards include best online commentary at the Online News Association and (twice) at the City and Regional Magazine Association. 

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Quantum Steering with Imprecise Measurements

Armin tavakoli, phys. rev. lett. 132 , 070204 – published 16 february 2024.

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  • Introduction.—
  • Steering inequalities.—
  • Imprecise measurements.—
  • Impact of imprecise measurements on…
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  • Application to experiments.—
  • A witness robust to imprecisions.—

We study quantum steering experiments without assuming that the trusted party can perfectly control their measurement device. Instead, we introduce a scenario in which these measurements are subject to small imprecision. We show that small measurement imprecision can have a large detrimental influence in terms of false positives for steering inequalities, and that this effect can become even more relevant for high-dimensional systems. We then introduce a method for taking generic measurement imprecision into account in tests of bipartite steering inequalities. The revised steering bounds returned by this method are analytical, easily computable, and are even optimal for well-known families of arbitrary-dimensional steering tests. Furthermore, it applies equally well to generalized quantum steering scenarios, where the shared quantum state does not need to be separable, but is instead limited by some other entanglement property.


  • Received 29 August 2023
  • Accepted 29 January 2024

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.132.070204

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Vol. 132, Iss. 7 — 16 February 2024

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Accuracy of the steering bound under imprecise measurements for B ε 1 , ε 2 MUB in dimension seven. Each basis for the trusted party is attributed a distinct imprecision parameter. The plot shows the difference between the upper bound obtained from ( 5 ) and the best numerical lower bound for unsteerable states.

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The Boston Globe

As state Senate seeks to honor a woman, it should bring a groundbreaking Black Bostonian out of the shadows

I n the shadow of the State House, along a quiet stretch of Joy Street, is a small marker so unassuming that it’s easy for passersby to miss. Its inscription begins: “Controversial Black Abolitionist.”

But that plaque marking the onetime home of Maria W. Stewart falls embarrassingly short of the honor such a groundbreaking figure in American history deserves. The self-educated New Englander rose from indentured servitude to become not only the nation’s first Black female published political writer but also the first woman of any race to give public political speeches — and she did it all in Boston. That is, until the backlash she received drove her away.

Now members of the Massachusetts Senate have an opportunity to give Stewart her proper due when they decide in March, Women’s History Month, which historical figure to memorialize with a bust in the Senate chamber.

This week, that honor was bestowed on Frederick Douglass . The sculpture of the famed orator and civil rights leader was the first permanent bust added to the chamber in more than 125 years and occupies one of two new spots reserved for a more diverse array of honorees in the newly renovated space.

The other, according to the office of Senate President Karen Spilka, will be a woman. Abigail Adams is reportedly on Spilka’s short list. But while statues of the well-known first lady abound — including a new one unveiled in 2022 in Quincy — none exist of Stewart. In fact, most people don’t even recognize her name, let alone know how to properly pronounce it: It’s ma-RYE-ah.

But Stewart deserves to be honored in that hall every bit as much as the others there, including Douglass, who was influenced by Stewart’s words and work.

Born free in Hartford, Stewart was orphaned by the age of 5, forced to trade her own labor in exchange for room and board as the indentured servant of a minister until she was in her teens. With no formal education, Stewart learned to read and write in Sunday school classes and by stealing glimpses of books in the minister’s home library.

Once freed of her contract, she moved to Boston and married a shipping agent but was widowed just three years later.

She made a living by doing what would become a lifelong vocation: teaching. But her faith also compelled her to address what she saw as the greatest moral failing of her time: the oppression of Black Americans. So she began writing about it.

“And she writes with fire ,” historian and Johns Hopkins University professor Martha S. Jones told me.

It was 1831, a time when it was taboo for women to engage in political discourse, even privately. But Stewart went to the offices of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator and presented her essays to its publisher, William Lloyd Garrison, who was white.

“Imagine that scene,” said Jones, author of the book “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won The Vote, And Insisted On Equality for All . “A Black woman, unlettered, inexperienced, but with big ideas persuading Garrison to give her precious space in The Liberator.”

And he did. The success of her published essays — the first by any Black woman in her own name — led to a series of public speeches in Boston, the text of which were also published in the paper.

Stewart not only pressed for the end to the institution of slavery in the South but also encouraged Black Americans and their supporters to build schools so that Black people could educate themselves with a view of reaching the same heights in industry, the arts, and the sciences as white people occupied.

“Give the man of color an equal opportunity with the white, from the cradle to manhood, and from manhood to the grave, and you would discover the dignified statesman, the man of science, and the philosopher,” Stewart said at the Boston African Masonic Hall. There, too, she broke convention by speaking before an integrated audience.

She also focused some messages on Black women, urging attendees at the African American Female Intelligence Society in 1832 to reject being relegated to subservient roles, so that “the higher branches of knowledge might be enjoyed by us.”

But her words came at a price. She faced vitriolic pushback from white and even some Black residents. “Some audiences weren’t ready for her ideas,” Jones told me. “Some took offense at her forthrightness.”

She retreated from public oration, giving a farewell speech less than a year after her first address, and moved from Boston to New York. She was an educator and writer for the rest of her life, living in Baltimore and finally in Washington, serving as Matron of the Freedmen’s Hospital, where she died in 1879.

It is because she broke through ceilings in ways unimaginable at the time that I, a Black political columnist, am able to write about her life, hail her influence, and call for her to be appropriately honored among the best of Bostonians. Bring her name from the State House’s shadow into its shimmering light.

L'Merchie Frazier, member of the State House Art Commission, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Nina Lillie LeDoyt, daughter of artist Lloyd Lillie, unveiled a bust of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the Senate chamber at the State House on Feb. 14.

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“Fear of Missing Out”? More like “Fear of Missing Orgasms.”

FOMO is intrinsically linked to anxiety about missing a possible opportunity for sex, a spicy new study has confirmed.

FOMO, an acronym popularized by author Patrick J. McGinnis in 2004, has become perceived as a 21st-century phenomenon fueled by social media feeds that implore we remain constantly connected.

However, the new study published in Current Research in Behavioral Sciences , found FOMO has far more ancient — and base — roots.

“Among American adults, we found that higher levels of FOMO were associated with a greater desire to seek out short-term sex partners,” co-author Adam C. Davis declared.

FoMO, an acronym popularized by author Patrick J. McGinnis in 2004, has become perceived as a 21st century phenomenon fueled by social media feeds that implore we remain constantly connected.

Before undertaking their research, Davis and his fellow academics theorized that FOMO was not simply related to platonic social inclusion and potential networking opportunities.

They cited previous scholarly research asserting that “adults expressing greater FOMO also display qualities that map onto short-term mating proclivities… such as greater sexual risk-taking, interpersonal antagonism and promiscuity.”

In order to test that claim, the academic enlisted 327 heterosexual American adults aged between 19 and 60.

The researchers measured the participants’ differences in their attitudes, behaviors and desires toward short-term mating using a “9-item Sociosexual Orientation Inventory.”

The inventory asks participants to respond to statements with a number between 1 and 9.

Statements included “I can imagine myself being comfortable and enjoying ‘casual’ sex with different partners” and “In everyday life, how often do you have spontaneous fantasies about having sex with someone you have just met?”

Additionally, the participants were asked to measure their general levels of FOMO using a “Fear of Missing Out Scale,” which asked them to respond to statements with a number between 1 and 5.

Statements included: “I fear others have more rewarding experiences than me.” 

Sure enough, researchers found that participants who had higher scores on the 9-item Sociosexual Orientation Inventory generally scored higher on the “Fear of Missing Out Scale.”

“Heightened expression of FoMO was related to short-term mating effort in the form of greater unrestricted sociosexual behavior and desires,” they concluded.

"Heightened expression of FoMO was related to short-term mating effort in the form of greater unrestricted sociosexual behavior and desires," they concluded.

However, sex wasn’t the only factor related to FOMO.

The study also uncovered that FOMO was positively associated with a stronger desire to strive for status among members of the same sex.

“FOMO was positively related with a tendency to be combative with same-sex rivals over valued social and reproductive resources, including physical attractiveness, ambition, competence, and wit,” the researchers declared. “This novel finding resonates with and extends previous work showing how those higher in FOMO are more socially combative and often resort to antagonistic surreptitious tactics to avoid feelings of inferiority.”

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FoMO, an acronym popularized by author Patrick J. McGinnis in 2004, has become perceived as a 21st century phenomenon fueled by social media feeds that implore we remain constantly connected.


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All about "Lift Every Voice and Sing," known as the Black national anthem, being sung by Andra Day at the 2024 Super Bowl

By Aliza Chasan

Updated on: February 11, 2024 / 6:20 PM EST / CBS News

Singer Andra Day  performed  "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which is widely known as the Black national anthem, at the start of the 2024 Super Bowl . 

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" has a short Super Bowl history, but the song itself has been around since 1900, when it was first performed by a choir of 500 schoolchildren in Jacksonville, Florida. It was written by James Weldon Johnson, who considered the piece a hymn.

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs

What is the Black national anthem?

James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Every Voice and Sing," colloquially known as the Black national anthem, was originally written late in 1899, James Weldon Johnson Foundation president Rufus Jones said. 

Johnson , a renowned author, educator, lawyer and civil rights activist, set out to write a poem to to commemorate President Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and the piece became a song. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the music.

James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson referred to the work as a "National Hymn," but his work spread and was later popularized as the Black national anthem. 

"At the turn of the 20th century, Johnson's lyrics eloquently captured the solemn yet hopeful appeal for the liberty of Black Americans," according to the NAACP , where Johnson was a leader. "Set against the religious invocation of God and the promise of freedom, the song was later adopted by NAACP and prominently used as a rallying cry during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s."

Calling the song the Black national anthem has led to some controversy. "America only has ONE NATIONAL ANTHEM. Why is the NFL trying to divide us by playing multiple!? Do football, not wokeness," Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado,  tweeted  before it was performed at the 2023 Super Bowl.

Jones, however, emphasized that "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was written and popularized decades before "The Star-Spangled Banner" became America's national anthem in 1931.

"In Jim Crow America, when everything was 'separate and equal,' so to speak, Black folk found their own sources of inspiration," Jones said. 

In early 2021, Rep. James Clyburn filed a bill  seeking to have "Lift Every Voice and Sing" honored as the national hymn.

Who is singing the Black national anthem at the 2024 Super Bowl?

Andra Day was selected to perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing" at the 2024 Super Bowl. Pregame performances will also include Reba McEntire singing the national anthem and rapper Post Malone with "America the Beautiful."

"Peace & Blessings!!! Performing the Anthem at the SuperBowl yall! Grateful! Thank You God," Day wrote on social media about the news.

Andra Day

There will also be an American Sign Language performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by actor and choreographer Shaheem Sanchez.

The song has been featured ahead of three previous Super Bowls. 

Alicia Keys  performed the song in a pre-recorded video before the 2021 Super Bowl. The following year,  Mary Mary  performed "Lift Every Voice and Sing" from outside SoFi stadium at Super Bowl LVI. 

And in 2023, Sheryl Lee Ralph did the honors, performing it on the field for the first time before the Kansas City Chiefs faced the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII.

"It is no coincidence that I will be singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing at the Super Bowl on the same date it was first publicly performed 123 years ago (February 12, 1900). Happy Black History Month," she  shared on social media  at the time. 

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles

In 2020, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was played before all 16 of the Week 1 games , according to the NFL. At the time, the league said it was working to "amplify work done by its players and the families who are trying to address social justice issues."

"[The song] has encouraged generations of Black people that God will lead us to the promises of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness," the NFL's Troy Vincent said at the time. "It's as pertinent in today's environment as it was when it was written."

Full lyrics of "Lift Every Voice and Sing"

Lift every voice and sing,

'Til earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the list'ning skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

Let us march on 'til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,

Bitter the chastening rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat,

Have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,

We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,

Out from the gloomy past,

'Til now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,

God of our silent tears,

Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;

Thou who has by Thy might

Led us into the light,

Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,

our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;

Shadowed beneath Thy hand,

May we forever stand,

True to our God,

True to our native land.

Super Bowl LVIII  will  air on CBS  and Nickelodeon and  stream on Paramount+  on Sunday, Feb. 11, from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.

Aliza Chasan is a digital producer at 60 Minutes and CBSNews.com. She has previously written for outlets including PIX11 News, The New York Daily News, Inside Edition and DNAinfo. Aliza covers trending news, often focusing on crime and politics.

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