Becoming a published author is a dream shared by many, but the journey from penning your first words to holding a published book in your hands can be both exciting and challenging. As a newly published author myself, I understand the aspirations and hurdles that come with the territory. To help you on your path, I’ve compiled tips based on my own journey for those aspiring authors out there.
1. Embrace Consistent Writing: Writing is a skill that improves with practice. Set aside regular, dedicated time for writing. Whether it’s a daily word count goal or a specific timeframe, consistency will help you build momentum and develop your craft. For me, this comes in a word count, an idea, or a time frame. So long as I get something down, even if it’s just a thought scribbled onto a sticky note, it’s a success.
2. Read Widely: Expand your horizons by reading across genres and styles. Analyze what works well in other authors’ writing, and consider how you can incorporate those techniques into your own storytelling. When I find an author whose work speaks to me (aside from Audible), I buy the hard copy book. I like to listen to my books, so buying an actual copy is my highest form of appreciation. A hard copy allows me to do more than immerse myself in a story. It allows me to study it, so I can understand more than just the amazing world that was built.
3. Find Your Unique Voice: Your voice is your literary fingerprint. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your writing. Authenticity resonates with readers and sets you apart from others. This could be anything from the way you phrase a particular sentence to your unique flavor of humor. It’s what tells any reader that this was written by you. But be careful—poor grammar shouldn’t be excused as having a voice.
4. Embrace the Editing Process: Your first draft is just that—an initial step. Editing is where the magic happens. Be open to revising, cutting, and refining your work to make it the best it can be. The first draft of “Desperation” was over 200k words. The final product was 156k words. That didn’t happen overnight. Several rounds of editing took it down to nearly 140k words, then I haggled with my imagination until we settled. It can take weeks or even months of editing to go through the process.
5. Seek Constructive Feedback: Sharing your work with critique partners or writing groups can provide invaluable insights. Constructive criticism helps identify blind spots and refine your writing to a professional level. I used several resources to get feedback on “Desperation.” From CritiqueCircle to Beta Readers, many sets of eyes and minds combed over draft after draft. You cannot build a perfect book in a bubble. It’s not that you are incapable of it, but that your mind stops seeing the disconnects, redundancies, and unintended conflicts in your story because everything is locked in your head.
6. Understand the Industry: Research the publishing landscape. Learn about traditional publishing versus self-publishing, query letters, literary agents, and submission guidelines. Understanding the industry will empower you to make informed decisions. This was a space that I thought I spent enough time in, and through the process, realized there were many things I did not know. There are many resources that can educate you. Use them. You will thank yourself in the end.
7. Stay Inspired: Creative burnout is real. Stay inspired by exploring different forms of art, engaging in hobbies, and taking breaks. Sometimes, stepping away from your work can lead to fresh perspectives.
Remember, every published author was once an aspiring one. The path to publication is unique for each individual, but these tips can serve as guiding principles to help you navigate the ups and downs of the writing journey. Embrace the process, keep honing your skills, and believe in the power of your stories. Your journey as an author has the potential to inspire not only yourself, but countless readers who are waiting to experience your world through the written word.