I have received several messages this year requesting guidance on becoming a writer. As an eternal student, I am by no means an expert. I have been working on a 30-year-old dream to be a prolific writer. My first book was published via Amazon Kindle in November 2014, and my first children’s book, The Adventures of Princess Jellibean, 1st Edition, was published in November 2016.
After the closing of my first, I recently signed with a new publisher to publish an expanded 2nd Edition and the subsequent books in my series. What I will share with you here are things I’ve discovered on my journey that I think will help an aspiring writer.
First, don’t become a writer for fame or money. This is going to be a long journey, wrought with peril and adventure so it should come from a place of passion for the art of the written word. If you are writing because you have something to say or because you love researching and sharing your findings, you will do well. If you aren’t one already, become a reader. Reading words helps keeps your own word flow primed.
Now that I’ve shared my opinion, what do you want to write about? Is there a genre you love like science fiction or mystery? Are there interests you’d like to take a deep dive into? Read books in your genre. Read reviews of books in your genre. Learn what your audience wants. Research your topic until you become somewhat of an expert.
When I wrote my second book, I researched possums so that I could write an authentic character. Even though it is a children’s book, I don’t want someone to be unable to connect with that character because I didn’t take the time for authenticity. Even if your chosen topic has already been written about, don’t be afraid to tackle it yourself.
Sit down and write. Make it a habit and create a routine. Have a designated place, music, lighting that you want to revisit each time and then…write anything. The book The Artists Way says to get up early every day to write whatever comes out. Set weekly deadlines and goals. Write X number of words each day. Setting that goal is up to you.
Outline your story. It needs a beginning, middle, and an end. Brainstorm characters and situations. Even if you use digital to write, carry a notebook with you everywhere. You never know when inspiration may strike. Keep your creative eyes open.
There are many publishing options that don’t cost a dime. Some resources are listed at the bottom of this page. This is especially true if you don’t need illustrations. If you do need illustrations, consider looking at artists on sites like Fiverr. If you want an agent, research agents in your genre on Google. Follow them on Twitter and look for their posts on tips or things they want to read. Research submission guidelines for both agents and publishers.
Learn how to write a book proposal. Take advantage of every webinar and online training for authors. Join organizations like Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) and take advantage of their website which is loaded with helpful information. Sign up for newsletters and join critique groups. Follow other authors on Twitter. Share your ideas with a trusted friend and be open to their feedback. Soak up every possible drop of information that can help you. Be an eternal student open to the big world of possibilities.
Don’t be afraid of failing. In fact, fall in love with it and celebrate it! It means you’re trying. It’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you stand back up, brush yourself off and try all over again! You can do this. Everyone has a story inside of them and yours deserves to be shared.
Sites for free self-publishing: