Recently, someone asked me what advice I would give to someone looking to turn their passion for writing into a career. It’s a question that I myself asked after I wrote my first manuscript (which, by the way, will never ever see the light of day). And you know, looking back, I’m glad I asked it as often as I did, because I would never have gotten as far as I have without hands reaching out to help guide me. I’d imagine that goes for any career you might pursue.
As far as writing goes, however, here are my top tips for aspiring authors.
It’s so cliche, right? But it’s true. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. It’s wonderful to have dreams. Careers are built on dreams, especially dreams in the arts. But in order to publish that book, you must first write that book. Then you’re probably going to rewrite the book. Then you’re going to send that book off to an editor who will have you revise that book about a hundred times over. Writing is essential. And when you’re not writing, you probably should be writing.
2. Make Connections.
Authors are incredibly supportive of other authors and of aspiring authors. We know what you’re going through. We know what you’re hoping for. We know what it’s like to be you, and guess what? We want you to succeed just as much as you do. That’s something I love most about the writer community. These people are the most supportive and encouraging group I’ve ever met, and I’m proud to be one of them. I just hope that I make them proud. I hope I help and encourage and support as much as they’ve helped and encouraged and supported me over the years.
3. Do Your Research.
Before I published Cemetery Tours, I was in the library every other week learning everything I could about independent publishing and how to succeed as a writer. As great as it was to have mentors to offer me advice, I ultimately had to make all the big decisions for myself, because what works for one writer will not always work for another. It was also easier for me to learn that way. As an author, you’re going to have dozens of options and dozens of choices to make, and at the end of the day, no one else can make them for you. Only you know what’s going to work best for you and for your book.
4. Don’t Get Discouraged.
This is a long and difficult road that you’ve chosen. You aren’t going to see results overnight (unless you’re JK Rowling). It takes a lot of time and patience. It also takes endurance. More likely than not, you’re going to have at least one person tell you that you’re wasting your time. They’re going to say, “You want to be a writer, that’s great, but you’re never going to make money that way. What do you actually want to do for a job?” But I promise you, for every person who doesn’t believe in you, there are about a hundred out there who do, and they’re the ones you need to keep by your side. They’re the ones you need to listen to. Believe in yourself and believe in your writing. Don’t let anyone ever convince you that your work isn’t worth it, because it is. You are worth it. This is the one life you get. You might as well spend it doing something you love. I’ve always thought that I’d rather fail at something I love, than succeed at something I don’t care about at all. At least I’d know that I’d tried.
5. Know Your Resources.
There are so many sites out there for aspiring authors and professionals in general. A few I that recommend are:
Author Rise: https://www.authorrise.com
The Ladders: https://www.theladders.com/careers/search