How to become a published fiction author

Many people would have you think that becoming a successful published author is difficult. In truth, it’s easy and if you follow these simple steps, you may soon find yourself at the top of the bestseller list.

Monkey typing

1. Read a lot. Reading is critical. You should read both books in your chosen genre as well as books that can help you improve your craft. Try to read at least three books a day.

2. Write, revise, repeat. Writing is a skill and just like any other skill, you must practice. Set goals for yourself. Start with 10,000 words a day on your manuscript and work up from there. Depending on how fast you can type, this should take less than three hours. Then, do writing exercises for an additional couple of hours to hone your craft.

3. Promote yourself. Start a blog. Create a website. You should also be reading books on internet marketing and effective use of social media. Devise a comprehensive self-marketing strategy and plan on spending at least six hours a day promoting yourself.

4. Take time to learn and hone your abilities. Take classes and join a critique group or two. Four classes or sessions a day should be sufficient. Try to bring homemade treats to each meeting to share with your fellow participants.

5. Make writing a priority. If you have work, kids, social life or hobbies, you must remember what’s important and put your writing first. Of course, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid distractions, but use them to advance your goals. For example, if your house is on fire, your first priority should be to get out. However, while you’re waiting for the firefighters, use the opportunity to write down your observations. Fictionalizing real events is a wonderful way to add dimension to your work.

6. Research. Well-written fiction demands research – so whether your characters are skydiving or street luging, take the time to become intimately acquainted with these things. Better yet, experience them yourself. Spend three or four days a week doing this.

7. Get recognized for your work. Find, research and enter writing contests. You should try to enter only those contests you will win. Plan to enter and win five to seven a week.

8. Meticulously research literary agents, their preferences and submission guidelines. Set aside several hours a day to target appropriate agents for your work and draft query letters.

9. Be well balanced. You can’t let your life revolve around writing. The best writers fill their lives with other interests. Learn Russian, perfect origami, master calligraphy. Get some physical activity while you’re at it, you can’t be a lump sitting at a desk all the time. Consider doing marathons or endurance swimming.

10. Get plenty of rest. You can’t write if you’re all tired and stressed out, now can you?

As you do these things, keep in mind that if you aren’t willing to invest this degree of effort, you must not want it enough. Best of luck in your publishing endeavors!

9 Comments

  1. Great set of rules. And so true!
    I’ve nominated you for a couple of blog awards. Check out my site to see them!

    1. Thanks Vanessa, I am thrilled and honored. I will take you up on that… ahem as soon as I get off work.

  2. Nancy Paul

    Yup. That’s about what I figured. That is why I am not writing my book.

    1. Too funny! Someone should have warned me.

  3. mlochner3

    Homemade treats like homemade fortune cookies with personal fortunes written in calligraphy for each classmate? Wrapped in an origami swan? Written in Russian?

  4. Nicely brought together! I think that could only be improved if delivered to class while juggling flaming torches.

  5. And I thought I was doing good when I read 1 book in 3 days. sigh…

    1. You are doing far better than I, I’m ashamed to say how few books I’ve read so far this year…

  6. peterkirsch

    This is absolutely ingenious. You’ve read my mind verbatim. So true. *sigh*

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