5 First Steps to Becoming a Published Author

Recently a friend asked me, what advice to I give people looking to get published?lucy-advice-booth

It’s a question I get a great deal, both from people I know and complete strangers. Often, writers sit stagnant, not sure how or where to begin and too afraid to ask. I can’t stress this enough, if you don’t know or can’t find the answer yourself, never be afraid to ask for help. We are a community, and at some point, we have all been where you are right now. Take advantage of the experience of others.

 

That said, I think every person and every situation is different, so I will do my best to give you my best advice for those starting out and looking to publish.

 

  1. My first and best piece of advice is simple; Finish your book (or article, or whatever you are looking to publish). If you set out asking for advice before it’s done, you are doing yourself a disservice and wasting other people’s time. Because there are questions you’re going to need to answer that you simply can’t until the project is complete. Which brings me to…
  2. Know your genre. This sounds easier than it probably is, but it is absolutely the first thing you’re going to need moving forward. Do you write cookbooks? Teen fiction? Travel articles? Pinpoint your genre as well as possible. Who is going to buy your book? (and believe it or not, EVERYONE, is the wrong answer.) Only by knowing WHO your audience is can you move on to…
  3. Find books similar to yours. No matter how unique your idea, there will always be someone who writes for the same audience as you do. Find THOSE people, and stalk the hell out of them. Not in a creepy way, but watch what they are doing, how they are doing it, and more importantly, who they are doing it with. Make a list of agents, publishers, or magazines they work with. This is your jumping off point. But before you do anything else…
  4. Look at the publishing options available to you. For most fiction writers, particularly, there are 3-4 methods of publishing available. Self-publishing, traditional publishing, small press publishing, and vanity publishing (please lawd, do not do that). Research each type of publishing. Find out what each will entail, which feels like the best fit for you and your project. Only then can you…
  5. Choose your path and begin the submission or publication process. Depending on which route you choose, next steps might be crafting a query letter and beginning to build your author brand, or searching for quality editors and formatters, researching agents, or making a list of conferences to attend.

 

From this point, there are several websites that can help you hone your next steps. I will say that once you’ve decided to publish, whatever method you choose, building your author brand should be your number one ongoing priority. It is the one universal thing you will need no matter what. Beyond that, I highly recommend www.Querytracker.net or The Literary Guide To Agents and Publishers (print book) as great resources for finding agents and crafting/tracking query letters. I hope this article helps, and remember, you’re not alone. So take a deep breath, brace yourself, and jump in.

The water’s great.


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