“How can I become an author?” How we can help…

This question is a lot harder to answer than it is to ask! However here is what I wrote in response to Amelia, who posted on the HTWB Facebook page asking “how can I become an author?”

What additional advice on becoming an author can we give her?

Agony Columns on How To Write BetterPlease share in the comments…and I will delete any that are facetious or rude! Here we go…

Hi Amelia,

First, ask yourself if you like writing, or if you like the idea of being an author. If the answer is yes to the first part keep going – if it’s only yes to the second part forget it!

The next home truth you need to work out is whether or not you have something to write about.

Pretty words and fancy phrases are worthless if they don’t share something valuable to readers, unless you want purely to write for yourself.

The good news, however, is that if you don’t already know what you want to write about all you need to do is to look around you, your life, your stories, your observations, your experiences – personal, educational, work or other areas – and see what, from that, other people would find interesting.

What may seem like a simple part of your life in the past may well be a fascinating story for someone else: look at what other people would think of your experiences, not what you think.

If you have a good imagination you may want to invent stories or poems about anything from romance to science fiction to fantasy. You might have some great ideas for children’s stories (although that’s one of the hardest markets to get into.)

One thing all established writers do is to read – and read a lot. By reading other authors’ work you will learn a lot about what you like and dislike, which will help you to “find your voice” as an author yourself.

By far the most practical advice, though, is this … if you want to be an author, start writing. If you already have started writing, write more. Write every day. Writing is like a muscle; the more you exercise it the stronger it gets.

With the internet, it’s very easy and cost-free to publish your writing which will allow you to get feedback on your work from other people. All you need to do is set up one of the free websites, like WordPress or Blogger, and off you go.

Once you have published some content on the site you will need to tell people that it’s there, so you should share snippets of the work on your social media platforms, linking to the full story, poem or article saying why readers will enjoy it.

If you want to go to a full book and have it published on a broader scale, be warned that there are a lot of scammers around who will charge you a lot of money for very little.

If getting published is something that is of interest to you, take a look at these articles which outline some of the things you need to watch out for.

If you want to write fiction, there is a brilliant series of tutorials on my website written by novelist Lucy McCarragher … it was eventually published as a book which is now doing very well, but on my site you can read it all for free! Click here and keep scrolling until you come to it. It’s called “How To Write Fiction Without The Fuss.”

I have also written a book called “How To Write Winning Non-Fiction.” I had a look at your profile and believe you’re in South Africa? If so the book is available at this online bookstore here.**

If you have any more questions do send them here as there are a number of other professional writers and authors who read this and I’m sure they will be happy to advise you.

I am also publishing this reply as a post on my website and am asking its readers to contribute advice if they can, so stand by for some food for thought…

All good wishes and the best of luck with your writing.


**Also available on all the Amazons.