Several times during my long stint as a writer, I have often been asked: “What does it take to become a published writer?”
These days, all it takes is Microsoft Word and an internet connection. And that is it! This being said, it is a lot easier than it used to be. The only way to be published before Amazon and other pioneering online booksellers paved the way for self-publishing was that of traditional publishing, which still has not changed very much ever since the start of the industrialization of book printing.
So let’s look back at the original question: “What does it take to be come a published writer?”
To me, any writer worth their salt should not want to become a PUBLISHED writer, but more so a distinct and seasoned one. Grant it that no writer is perfect by any sort of means, but writers should still at least attempt to do everything to strive toward that perfection. They shouldn’t be too scared to PAY THE PRICE and EARN THE TITLE.
Anyone can put together some literary turd, put any image on it that will come to be known as the cover for said literary turd, and call it a published book, thereby claiming the status as published writer. All that serves is to discredit the whole movement of indy authors everywhere the world over.
So my chief advice to writers everywhere who desire to be self-published authors is simple: Bring something solid to the table, something that will make traditionally-published authors look over their snobby shoulder with even the vaguest of worries. In doing so, here is my advice:
First, Pay the Price!
- Read a grammar book cover-to-cover the same way you would a novel written by your favorite author, not only READING it, but ABSORBING the knowledge like a Bounty paper towel. If you choose not to make it through, it is clear that you do not have the true desire to be a prolific author. Why even bother attempting it? If you find that you become truly fascinated by the rules of the road, then this is a true sign that you may stand a wonderful chance of becoming something more than the author of a literary turd.
- Read many, many different books by many, many different successful authors. I myself have started reading several classic works. This past Christmas, I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. And a couple of years ago, I read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving just before Halloween…and one of my most favorite classics, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one I will never forget! These classics and many, many more paved the way for successful literature all over the world.
- If you desire to write fiction, read many, many different books about the craft of writing, plot development, creating memorable characters, creating conflict and tension in your stories, and all other elements that may be essential in creating a story that people will remember through the ages.
Next, Stay True to The Craft!
- When it comes time to sit down and begin your book, set a rigid writing schedule; and do not let anything come between you and it. Work diligently to complete your first draft. When you finish, work diligently to complete your second draft paying close attention, looking out for errors in grammar and punctuation.
- It’s not a bad idea to obtain a subscription to Writer’s Digest if you can afford it. You can learn so many valuable lessons and great tidbits of information from this one terrific magazine that has been around seemingly almost since Jesus Christ was a little boy.
- Let anyone and everyone you meet know about your project. Be excited when you tell them about it. It is the only way you will be able to get them excited about it. If they see the thrill on your face, it may be contagious enough for them to want to experience it directly as soon as it is finished.
- Disregard the Nay-Sayers. If anyone, at anytime , tells you: “Why do you even bother?” You look them in the eye and say: “Fuck you! I try, because I know I can.” And you keep sitting back down at the chopping block, prepared to hammer out your best writing fueled by the words of the punch-bowl turd you just heard.
- Finally, through the entire writing process, do not write to become rich and famous. I hate to tell you that this will probably never happen. But write because you love it! And content yourself with knowing that your writing will still be around long after you are gone. For this one extreme reason, this is why it is so important to not have a literary turd survive you. Do you really want your name to be associated with such a piece of shit long after you are gone? This is where paying the price literally pays off!
- If you can afford it, DEFINITELY hire an editor worth their salt. Also, if you can find an agent who is LEGITIMATE (…and you can tell those by the ones who say to you: “I don’t make money until after you make money”…) then you better jump on it!
- Don’t be scared by the advice I’m offering here. Because even a turd nugget can be turned into a priceless gem after the editing process is completed. Look at this as a challenge that you know you can overcome.
- Also be sure to avoid organizations out there which prey on new writers. I fell into a trap of using AuthorHouse as my first publisher. I’ve yet to see my very first penny of royalty from this organization. They do, however, provide an excellent product…but they WAY overcharge for it.
And Finally! The Tools of the Trade!
With all of this said, every writer should have some tools at his arsenal. These are the tools I recommend:
- Good Laptop! You can use a typewriter, word-processor (if they still make these dinosaurs!), or a desktop computer. But I personally prefer laptops. Because sometimes you can do some of your best writing in a coffee cafe! Nothing like a ravenous stream of caffeine to wash away the old writer’s block!
- Laptop Bag (I use a messenger bag that holds my reference books as well!)
- Memory Stick or USB Drive (Keep Your Manuscript Here for Backup!)
- Decent Internet Connection
- Good Dictionary & Thesaurus (You Can Also Use http://www.dictionary.com )
- Good Reference Books (Some of Which are FREE!) I’ll even include links where you can get them!
These are the more important tools in my writing arsenal. I hope you may find them to be just as vital as you carry them along on your writing journey.
In this article, I hope I’ve successfully conveyed the importance of paying the price to be a good writer and staying true to the craft, as well as also having provided you with what I feel are some very good tools to get you started.
Well to those who have asked me the question, “What does it take to become a published writer?”, I hope this successfully answers it. However, I DO urge you to start asking yourself: “What does it take to become a SUCCESSFUL writer?”