Become a Published Author: How to Write and Publish Your Book
Many people dream of one day becoming an author and publishing a book.
You might even be one of them!
If so, you may already have a topic in mind, or you might have even started writing your masterpiece.
And if you don’t have anything in the works yet, don’t worry. Most people interested in a career as an author don’t know where to start and some may even find the possibility of becoming published out of reach.
But after years of people asking me, “How can I become an author who has published a book?” I’m excited to share with you that it is more attainable than you may think.
It really just comes down to overcoming a few obstacles, such as not having enough time or feeling a lack of self-confidence.
For example, one of the main obstacles people who want to become an author face is simply knowing how to get started.
Don’t let these common obstacles stand in the way of achieving your dream, though! Here’s how to get started on your journey to becoming a published author.
How to Become a Successful Author: Developing the Right Skills
First and foremost, you need to have certain skills to become a successful author. Let’s start with five of the main skills you should develop to fulfill your dream of becoming a published author.
In order to be successful in telling your story, you need to master communication.
This means knowing how to use words to be descriptive, illustrate your main points and motivate. As an author, you need to be able to use the written word to communicate concisely and clearly.
You also need to know your audience and their communication styles and preferences in order to get your message across successfully. Understand what is important to them — what are their concerns or pain points?
Communication also helps when it comes to networking with other successful authors. Being able to clearly converse with and listen to your fellow writing peers will help you figure out how to write and publish your book from those who have already done it and learned valuable lessons and information.
Spelling and Grammar
No one will read your book if they keep running into spelling and grammar issues. These errors make it difficult to make it through your work.
Authors should have excellent spelling, grammar, and vocabulary skills.
You can develop these skills by taking writing courses and basic English classes. Use a spelling and grammar checker to help edit your pieces and give you suggestions on better word usage.
However, keep in mind that when you are writing your first draft, spending too much time worrying about spelling and grammar can hinder your progress.
Instead, just let your thoughts go, and write what comes to you. You will go back later to make corrections later.
Just make sure you do, in fact, go back to check for spelling and grammar mistakes prior to publishing your work. It may also help to have someone else proofread to catch any mistakes you may have missed.
So many people have a book idea, and likely one similar, or even the same, as yours. So it’s critical that you figure out how to make your unique work stand out. You can also try looking into what methods ghostwriters use to learn about a topic.
What do you have to offer that is unique from other authors? You have your experiences, your personality, your thoughts, and your unique outlook on life.
Use these to write a book that stands out from others. Do not simply try to imitate the success of others, though. Readers will appreciate you for your unique approach and the way you express yourself with words.
For example, if you are often humorous, use humor in your writing. If you are reflective and contemplative, let it come out in your book.
In short, let your creativity shine by being yourself. Express your thoughts or share your knowledge to either entertain or improve the lives of others.
Honing in on concentration is going to be key to finishing your book.
Without concentration, you leave room for procrastination.
If becoming a published author is important to you, place it high on your priorities list as you would any important job. Set aside time in your schedule each week to devote to writing your book.
To help you stay concentrated try writing at the time of day you concentrate best. Is it early in the morning when your thoughts are fresh, after exercising, or later at night when the house is quiet?
Do you concentrate better in a room that is silent, or does white noise or music keep your mind more active? Are you able to focus better when you are outside? Do you prefer writing on a device, or are you more productive with paper and pen?
When you are working on your book, try freeing your space of distractions, including notifications and calls on your phone as much as possible.
I promise when you make an effort to concentrate, you will produce and publish your book in no time!
Being able to conduct research effectively online or in the library is an important skill for any author.
While you may already have a lot of knowledge about the topic you are writing on, there may be some things you need to learn more about to make your book more interesting and complete.
A good place to start is by finding what other successful books like the one you’re writing have in common. This will help give you a starting point of where to look for your own research and help make your work more successful.
Then, when you are doing your research, gather your information from reliable sources so it is accurate and so that your audience can further trust the information you present in your book.
In addition to research for your book, you’ll also want to study your audience. When you know what they like and what they are interested in, you can make your book more compelling and interesting. The more interesting your book is to your audience, the more successful it will be.
Research may also help you when you’re feeling stuck. You may find something interesting that will spark a creative chord and inspire you to keep going!
Common Obstacles to Becoming an Author
Now that you know what it takes to become a published author, it’s important to understand some of the common struggles you may encounter in order to learn how to anticipate them, get past them, and publish your book.
Here are three common obstacles many people face when trying to become an author.
Imposter syndrome is feeling like you don’t have the qualifications to be doing what you’re trying to do — in this case, writing a book.
But do not believe that just because you may not know exactly how to be an author you cannot be one.
You can be an author even if you feel you lack the education or experience to be one. After all, every author has to start somewhere!
To help you battle imposter syndrome, a bachelor’s degree in any subject may help you, but just having experience writing is the most beneficial criteria you need to be an author. Also, once you write one book – you can include that when you write your author bio for the next book.
Plus, you get more experience the more you write. So go ahead and just get started!
Speaking of getting started, the best way to start writing your book is to create an outline to organize your thoughts.
Begin by writing down the purpose of your book, who you are writing it for, and what it will be about.
Determine the structure you will use for your book and follow an outline template.
After you write down your ideas for each chapter, you will have an outline that will help you start writing your book right away.
Once you get started, you may find procrastination sets in or other responsibilities or distractions keep you from writing your book.
The key to staying motivated when writing a book is to use helpful strategies. One is to write every day, even when you do not want to and even if it is just 100 words.
Remember, try not to edit too much as you write. Editing will come later, and focusing on the little details in the first draft will slow your process down.
However, also remember to take a break when you absolutely need to in order to avoid burnout.
These are just a few tips to stay motivated when writing a book that I’ve learned in my own writing career and from other successful authors.
How to Become an Author: Your Step by Step Guide to Getting Started
Now that you know the skills you need to be an author and how to overcome common obstacles, you are ready to get started.
Following this guide on how to become an author will help your dream of writing and publishing your book become a reality.
Polish Your Skills
Before diving straight in, fine-tune your creative writing skills to be an author to make the writing process easier.
Four ways to polish your skills are to practice often, join a workshop, take a formal writing course, and take college courses in English.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In order to expand on your own writing abilities, write often. No matter what it is, just write and practice. Make writing a part of your normal routine. This will not only help you become an author but could also help you fight off imposter syndrome and stay productive.
A good way to practice is to start a personal journal and write in it every day. Write down your experiences, thoughts, questions, hopes, dreams, and funny anecdotes.
You could also use a journal that includes writing prompts — or look online for prompts to write about. Any method to practice your skills for the written word are highly encouraged. Successful writing careers don’t just appear out of nowhere. They take work, time, and lots of practice!
Writing letters and emails to friends and family members could also help improve your writing practice and spark inspiration.
Launching a blog about a topic you’re passionate about or have knowledge on that you can share with others is also a great way to practice and start building an audience for your book.
Join a Workshop
Sometimes it’s easier to practice when you follow a curriculum or have others to bounce ideas off of.
Writing workshops or creative writing programs led by published authors and those with successful writing careers can guide you through the outlining, drafting, and revising, editing, and publishing stages of writing.
Other workshop participants will give you feedback on your writing, and you can bounce ideas off of each other.
Take a Formal Writing Course
If you want to expand the workshop experience, a writing course could be helpful on your path to how to become a published author.
Choose courses on many different topics, from grammar and composition to fiction or nonfiction writing to how to publish a book.
You can find writing courses online, or take one in person at a community college or university.
Take College Courses in English
If you’re interested in the university route of polishing your writing skills, consider enrolling in English and literary courses or pursuing a degree.
A bachelor of arts, journalism, or literature will help you learn how to become a successful writer and author.
Start With Shorter Works
Slow and steady wins the race. When getting into the swing of your writing process, start small.
While you may be excited to write a big chunk of your work, putting your ideas down in shorter bursts will help you avoid burnout, writer’s block and keep you on pace to finish your work in a manageable amount of time.
Looking for small writing jobs or opportunities to write for a blog, newsletter, magazine or newspaper could also help spark creativity and teach you that writing doesn’t have to be a daunting task.
If you can write one short work and then another, then you can gain the momentum you need to write your book.
Feedback and support will only help grow you as a writer.
Sometimes the best thing your writing needs is simply an outside perspective and a second set of eyes in order to see if your work is really resonating how you intended it to in order to become a successful published author.
Network With Other Authors
Reach out to other people who are already working in the field. Get involved with a community of authors locally or online.
Not only can these individuals provide you with support, but they can also give you guidance and advice as you work toward publishing your first book.
As you listen to or read about their experiences, you’ll learn possible lessons you may run into in the future.
Other authors can also give you tips to help you be successful and overcome issues, such as writer’s block, making your story come alive, and publishing options.
Work With A Publisher for Your Shorter Works
Try to have your shorter writings published. If you are able to convince publishers to work with you on smaller projects, you can be reasonably sure that you have the resources and skills to eventually publish your book.
Publishers are a fantastic resource. Let the experts do what they do best!
Hire a Writing Coach
Coaches exist to help, and when you get writer’s block or feel discouraged, a coach may be able to prevent you from getting stuck.
They also have your best interest in mind. Writing coaches can help you stay motivated, give you tips to succeed, and use their experience to help you head off potential roadblocks.
If you’re stuck on finding the right topic for your book, try brainstorming different ideas based on your areas of interest, expertise, and what your audience would be interested in from you.
By identifying your interests or areas of expertise, you whittle down your ideas to find the best story to tell.
Another great way to brainstorm is to research other books like the one you’d like to write in order to understand bestselling themes.
As you brainstorm, just make sure to let your ideas flow freely without judging if an idea is good or bad.
Once you have your list of ideas, go over your list and consider who you want to write your book for. Then make a plan for writing your book that includes gathering the information you need to make it come to life.
Armed with the skills, support, experience, and ideas you need, now it is time to start writing your book.
Refer back to your outline or create one if you haven’t already. Remember, this is the best way to start writing your book and make it a bestseller.
How to Become a Published Author
Once you have written a book, no matter how short or long, you are an author.
However, in order to become a published author, you must actually publish your book so it’s available to more people than just yourself.
There are a couple of things to consider when you’re ready to finally publish your book, so consider these steps and options to find the best method for you.
Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing
When publishing a book, you have two main options: self-publishing and traditional publishing.
Traditional publishing is the most common method used. With traditional publishing, a publisher offers you a contract.
This contract provides the publisher with the right to sell your book through specific retailers. It will also outline the royalties amount you will make when your book sells.
Self-publishing comes in a few different formats: completely on your own or with a print-on-demand publisher, such as Amazon. We’ll touch on these options a little later.
However, regardless of the type of self-publishing you choose, you will be required to pay all of the expenses related to the publishing of your book.
If you choose to publish the book entirely on your own, you will be responsible for paying all of the expenses related to the production, marketing, distribution, and storage of your book.
How to Get Your Book Published
So now that you’ve identified if you’re going to self-publish or publish your book in a more traditional manner, there are a few more steps to take before becoming an official published author.
Ensure Your Book Is Ready
Before you begin the process of publishing your book, ensure your material is ready for publishing.
This means you will need to review and edit your book carefully to make sure it meets the highest standards.
Proofread your book and re-read. Read it one time through, focusing on content and flow. Do your sentences make sense, did you leave any steps or information out, do you get your point across?
Read your book another time through, focusing on the mechanics of your writing: spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization, and formatting.
It is almost helpful to have someone else proofread your book. Ask them to point out any parts that are difficult to understand or dull. Let them edit for errors as well.
While it is important to get feedback from people that you trust, do not let others edit out your voice and unique style of writing.
Decide How You Want to Publish
Again, you have so many different publishing options, whether you hire a publisher, self-publish, or choose a platform like Amazon.
There are positives and drawbacks to each option, so make sure you research each option and decide which one is right for you.
If you are going to self-publish your book, it is best to hire a professional editor and book cover designer. You will need to have enough money to cover these expenses and publishing costs.
If you are going to try to work with a publisher, however, you will need to convince the publisher that your book is a good investment.
This means that you will have to submit a draft of the book to the publisher for review. The publisher will then decide whether or not to publish your book. In some cases, the publisher may request revisions before publishing.
In other cases, the publisher may accept the book as is or reject it altogether.
If you choose a publisher, make sure you find the right company for you.
Prepare Your Pitch
Whether you’re pitching to a publisher or pitching to your audience, prepare how you want to present your book.
Create an elevator pitch for your book. This is a very short summary of what your book is about. It can be one sentence or just a few.
Write a synopsis of your book as well. This is a more detailed paragraph that wraps up your entire book. If your book is nonfiction, include what you hope your audience will gain from reading your book and a summary of the content or chapters.
If your book is a fiction piece, include the main idea and characters, climax, and resolution.
When you are pitching your book, make it clear what audience your book is intended for.
Submit a Draft to a Publisher
Once you’ve done all of your research, submit your book to a publisher.
The publisher will offer you a contract if they accept your work. If they do not, submit it to another publisher until you are accepted by a publisher that you want to work with.
The publisher that you form a contract with will take care of editing, formatting, and designing your book.
Common Questions About Becoming an Author
Now that you have all the steps to becoming an author, here are a few questions you’re bound to come across.
Trust me, as a publisher of 80+ books, I’ve run into these questions multiple times and am excited to help answer them for you!
What Education Is Needed to Become an Author?
Anyone can become an author with or without a formal education. However, a certain amount of knowledge and skills are required to be successful.
Think of it this way: Before you start a job, you need to make sure you have the right skills.
For most people who want to be an author, this will mean having a good grasp of the English language, a solid knowledge base relating to one or more specific topics, and the ability to do research effectively.
You can learn these skills through classes and online courses as mentioned earlier in this post.
If you’re not interested in going back to school, though, remember that taking online or community courses and reading books could also significantly help you become a published author.
What Is the Difference Between an Author and a Writer?
Being a writer is somewhat different than becoming an author.
While an author is someone who publishes their own works based on their own ideas and desires, a writer is more service-oriented.
Writers often create works based on instructions provided by a client. To be a writer, you generally need to find clients. As an author, you write for yourself.
How Much Do Authors Make?
The amount of money an author can earn in any given year varies considerably. While some authors may barely make ends meet, others earn millions and live very comfortable lives.
Most authors fall somewhere in the middle of this range.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for authors and writers is approximately $67,120 per year, which translates to a little more than $32 an hour.
The lowest-earning 10% of writers and authors earn less than $35,880 per year, while the highest-earning 10% make more than $133,460 per year.
The reason for the wide range in earnings is due to the factors that influence an author’s salary:
The Number of Books You Publish
The more books you publish, the more opportunities you have to make money on your books.
The Success of Your Book
If you really nailed down your strategy when writing your book, and it’s successful, it’ll fly off the shelves and put money in your pocket.
The Price of Your Book
The price of the books you sell will have an effect on your salary as well.
Higher-priced books generally yield more profits per book. However, if your book is priced too high, it may discourage readers from making a purchase.
Finding the right price point for each book you publish will maximize your salary.
Think about if your book is an ebook, hardcover, or paperback when determining the price. Consider the length of the book and its features. All of these will help determine how to price your book strategically.
How Much You Earn in Royalties
When looking at publishers, make sure you understand the royalty payout structure.
If you publish the book entirely on your own, any profits will go directly to you.
However, if you publish your book with the help of a traditional publisher or another type of publisher that requires you to turn over some rights to the book, you will earn only a percentage of the profits.
The percentage of profits you earn will affect your salary considerably.
Some of the most well-known authors earn on the higher end due to all of these factors, so becoming a published author certainly has the possibility of raising your salary considerably. Just make sure you put your best foot forward!
How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book?
The amount of money required to publish a book varies considerably.
For example, if a traditional publisher agrees to accept your book, you won’t pay the expenses associated with manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing, so your upfront costs will be minimal.
However, you will pay for these services over time through royalty rates.
If you choose to self-publish, you may spend a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars in upfront costs publishing your book. But you may earn higher sums of money over time as your book sells.
How Hard Is It to Become an Author?
All it takes to become an author is to simply write a book.
This requires commitment and hard work, but you are in control of making that happen.
Becoming a published author can be more difficult.
If you are going to publish the book on your own, you will need to raise enough money to handle all of the associated expenses, which might be challenging.
On the other hand, if you are going to work with a publisher, you will need to create a book the publisher likes and convince them that it is a worthwhile endeavor.
Depending on the publisher’s standards, this can be a long and arduous task as well. Adding to the overall time it takes to write and publish a book.
However, if you are persistent and you put forth your best effort, you will find success eventually.
If you’re feeling inspired and ready to start or continue your writing journey, allow me to make the process of how to become an author easier for you. Take my free training: 5 Steps to Planning and Publishing a Best-Selling Book to get you started on the right path to becoming an author of a published book today.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.