Let me start by paraphrasing Stephen King’s advice in his book On Writing: If you want to be a writer, you must write! I’ll add one more caveat to that profound statement: If you want to be a good writer, you must read!
With those two critical concepts in mind, I’ll offer my personal advice for aspiring writers in the form of a checklist:
1. Read voraciously.
Normally as an author, you already have a genre of preference and at least a rudimentary idea of your target audience. If you’re not already doing so, start reading books that appeal that audience within that genre. Obviously, your intent isn’t to steal ideas (that would be plagiarism), it’s to hone your craft. From reading voraciously within your genre of choice, providing you’re selecting books by reputable authors, you’ll learn the essential components of writing a good book: character development, POV, detail in settings, structure, flow, and many others.
2. Write as often as you can.
Just because you’re at the office for your day job or out for dinner with your family doesn’t mean you can’t jot down an idea on the Notepad app of your phone or even on a stray piece of paper; remember J.K. Rowling’s success from napkins. Even if you think you’re not quite ready, start writing!
3. Consider your publishing options carefully.
Once you have completed a manuscript, you’re basically faced with two publishing options: self-publish or submit your manuscript to publishing houses. Both approaches come with pros and cons. Self-publishing is a LOT of work, but you are in full control throughout and there is no waiting time or rejection notices. Publishing houses, however, will flood your inbox with rejection letters regardless of how good your book is (don’t believe me, research how many rejections Stephen King received when submitting Carrie for publication). On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to get an offer, it will come with a huge amount of support – marketing, advertising, and a healthy check up front.
4. Do not listen to other people!
Funny I should say that since I am trying to offer advice, but it is definitely something you should consider. Jealousy and condescension are human nature. The more you talk about your goals and dreams, the more people will try to shoot them down. Stick to your guns and fight for what you want to achieve.
5. Never stop writing!
If being an author is truly your dream, then never give up on it. In my case, it took three decades after my decision to become an author for my first book to be published. If this is your dream, then don’t let time or rejection notices stand in your way.
As always, thanks for reading. Please give this post a like and offer your thoughts in the comments. Also, please subscribe for the exclusive content of my monthly newsletter and post alerts.