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  1. All About the Writing Business and Becoming an Author!

All About the Writing Business and Becoming an Author!

Jonathan Feniak, Esq., MBA

By Jonathan Feniak, Esq., MBA

    If you're looking to become a published author, chances are good that you've had to make many difficult decisions already. You may wonder or second-guess yourself about whether you should write short paperback books or long-form e-books. You might also struggle to decide whether you should publish on your own or go the traditional route. Thankfully, with enough dedication, effort, and a bit of guidance, your path to getting published can be easier than you think.

    Becoming a published author starts with knowing how to write. While mastering basic grammar and spelling is crucial, being able to create an engaging plot is equally vital. Successful authors also go beyond storytelling; they meet deadlines, embrace constructive criticism, and conduct thorough research. Accuracy matters as well, especially when your writing intersects with real-world facts.

    Many aspiring authors find that it helps to pursue an English degree, which provides a good foundation of knowledge. This educational route exposes you to a diverse array of literature, giving you a deeper understanding of storytelling techniques. Earning a degree in English or creative writing can be a good path to take, though majors like journalism, communications, and linguistics can also enrich your writing and broaden your perspective. You may also find through the course of your education that writing a book isn't your true passion after all. There are many other types of writing careers out there, too, so you don't have to write a book to make a living from writing. The world needs good journalists, for example, and technical writers also serve a crucial role, translating complex concepts into accessible language.

    If writing and publishing a book truly is your dream, you'll need to decide who you want to publish your work. In the digital age, traditional publishing houses are no longer the only option. Self-publishing empowers writers to take control of their publishing journey, and it means that you won't have to worry about convincing an agent to take you on or facing a mountain of rejection letters. You'll also retain full creative control over your work. On the other hand, you'll also need to put in the work of designing the cover, editing and putting together your book, and then marketing your work to the world.

    Self-publishing companies offer a middle ground between traditional and independent publishing, and they provide essential services like editing and design as well. However, it's important to research the available self-publishing platforms carefully. Go through the customer reviews, examine their services, and check out their track record in the industry. It's also important to look for platforms that align with your goals. Then, evaluate the contract terms carefully to ensure that you retain ownership of your work. Be wary of platforms that pressure you into buying expensive add-on services that you probably don't need or signing exclusive agreements without making sure that you understand all of the implications of doing so. You should also compare the pricing structures of different platforms, taking into account publishing fees, upfront costs, and royalty rates.

    For those who prefer traditional publishing, once you've finished your book, the first step to publication is finding an agent. You can search online for lists of agents to reach out to, but a simpler way to choose who to contact is to look at books similar to yours and find out which agents those authors use. Once you have your list, put this information into a spreadsheet to help you keep track of the progress of each query. Then, write your pitch, a letter that includes a bit of information about yourself and gives a brief summary of the book, and send it off. Note the date in your spreadsheet, then follow up if you don't hear anything within a month. Remember that persistence pays off: You'll probably get a lot of rejections, and that's part of the process. Each rejection brings you closer to the right fit, so don't get discouraged. And when that acceptance letter finally arrives, you'll be able to celebrate a major milestone on your publishing journey.

    Once you get an agent, they'll work to sell your book to a publisher. Then, you'll start working with an editor. You may have already hired your own editor to polish your manuscript before looking for an agent, but now, you'll be working with your publisher's editor, who will have their own ideas for how you can make your work truly shine. Editing is the bridge between your creativity and the reader's experience, and their feedback will enhance the quality and appeal of your work. Embrace constructive criticism, revise diligently, and trust the process. Your book will emerge stronger, ready to captivate readers and leave a lasting impression.

    Essential Skills

    Educational Pathways and Career Opportunities

    Self-Publishing

    Working With an Agent and Publisher

    Watching Out for Red Flags and Protecting Yourself

    Working With an Editor