How Does One Become A Published Author?

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It’s been 12 years since I decided to bury my hopes for becoming an author and thought I wanted to do something else instead. However, after all these years, I still haven’t found a job that would feel right and fulfilling, something that I could consider doing for the rest of my life.

So, instead of searching for the this-feels-right-profession, I’m returning to my childhood career plans: I’m going to be a published author.

My ’Why’

As you already know, I’ve written four full-length novels (although only one of them has a proper ending) during my lifetime. That means I’m already a writer. But now I want to become a published author.

At the moment, I’m working on my fifth full-length novel, aiming to complete it and hopefully get it published. But how does one get published? And why do I even want to become a published author – why not simply write for myself?

What is my why for doing this? Let me tell you:

  1. Nothing yet has given me such fulfillment as writing does. Especially writing fiction where I get to use my imagination is rewarding. Therefore…
  2. … this is what I want to do for a living. I want to finance my life and support myself as an author. This profession is also something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life, which is pretty awesome.
  3. Also, I have no clue of what I would want to do instead. I could consider having a part-time job on the side (owning a café, for instance) but my main focus would still be on writing.

The feeling of fulfillment is what keeps me going. Every day, after reaching my word goal of the day, I feel good, energetic, motivated and, best of all, proud of myself. And that’s something worth holding onto.

So, on to the next challenge: how can one become a published author?

Courageous, Stubborn and Serious

I reached out to a Finnish author who has published several books for young adults. I asked her how to get one’s book published and, especially, how can one become a full-time author. This is what she told me:

1. Be Courageous

If you want to become a full-time author, you must have the courage to throw yourself in the game. Being a full-time author means you seldom have financial security, but if you start your career by making sure you are financially well off, you’ll soon realize you’re heading against the wall instead of writing the book you wish to get published.

Instead, focus on the right things, take the financial risks and believe in yourself. Dare to plan long-term projects instead of only relying on smaller ones.

2. It’s A Real Job

If you wish to become a full-time author you need to treat your authorship as a real job. That means that you keep on going even if your financial future is unsure and plan your finances so that you’ll be able to keep on going even if you don’t get financial aid for your projects. As with any other profession, also a writer should strive for continuous development – learn new things, improve your writing and reach out to other writers.

3. The First Book Is the Toughest One

You will probably write your first book while working with something else at the same time. It’s tough, but after that you’ll hopefully get writing scholarships and other financial aid which will help you focus full-time on your writing. Just get your first book published!

4. Be Stubborn

One of the important qualities of an author is to be stubborn: even if you have a writer’s block or whatever you write feels like crap, don’t give up – just keep on going. Don’t give yourself a break.

The same stubbornness is valuable when you try to get your book published: don’t give up. If they reject you, do the edits you need to and try again. Or send them something else you’ve written instead. Be annoyingly stubborn.

5. Know Your Genre

Read books! Not whatever books but books that represent the genre you yourself want to write. This is important because by reading the kind of books you’d like to write, you’ll learn to know your competition (i.e. what kind of books have already been published), what do you want to write about, what kind of books you like and what kind of language is typical for that particular genre.

6. Practice Writing

Join a writing course. By joining one you’ll 1) practice writing and 2) find a community of other writers and friends who are interested in discussing writing and texts.

So, What’s Next?

After receiving these tips, it seems like the obvious thing for me to do is to keep on reading and writing.

I have my draft that I work on and aim to have the first version ready by the end of the year. After that I’ll edit it, have someone else read it and then I’ll edit it some more, after which I’ll send it to one or more publishers.

Feels like there’s a long way to go but it isn’t supposed to be easy, either.

I’ve been thinking about joining a course for writing. The Minimalists have one that a friend of mine recommended to me. I’m still thinking over the financial aspects of joining the course but I am curious to know how it would improve my writing. Have you joined a writing course sometime?

But what I know is this: it is possible to become a full-time author. And that’s nice to know because it will help me to stay focused, motivated and goal-oriented. I will become a published author. And hopefully I’ll be able to share my journey with you in this blog!

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