How to Become an Author
Many people aspire to become authors and novelists, seeing your own work in print can be very satisfying. However, the path to authorship is a long one. To be successful you'll need to be willing to put plenty of time, as well as effort, into your craft before you can expect to reach the dizzying heights of the publishing world.
An author is the person who creates the text or content that makes up a book. It could be a fiction or non-fiction work. It might be a book aimed at children, young adults, or other demographics.
If you love reading and literature, have a strong aptitude for research, and harbor a love of the written word, then becoming an author may be the right choice for you.
Education Requirements to Become an Author
There is no formal education requirement to become an author, many successful people in the field will tell you that you do need some life experience, some natural talent, and a strong work ethic. You can take courses in writing at most colleges, as well as community colleges. A good start is to take an undergraduate degree in English or humanities. This will allow you to study subjects like literature, writing, history, and philosophy, all of which will help shape your knowledge of literature and broaden your world view.
If you enjoy studying, you might like to go on to complete a master's degree in writing, or even a doctorate. These kind of degrees can be taken part-rime and are offered by colleges which allow you to study off campus, so you can work at the same time if you wish.
While you are studying, you might like to intern at a publishing house to get a feel for how the industry works. It can also be useful to get a part time job in a book store. If you want to write for a particular age group, for instance teenagers or elementary school aged children, then look at doing a job that allows you to mix with your intended audience.
A good author always reads more than they write, there are not really any exceptions to these rules. Reading across all genres is important, from the classics to the modern bestsellers. Reading magazines, literary journals, and periodicals will help you expand your industry knowledge.
Another good idea is to join a local writers group. This is a great way to meet like-minded people who share your interests. You'll have an opportunity to share your work, and also critique others.
The most important part of being an author is learning to write. While taking courses will help, the best way to learn this craft is by doing. Take every opportunity you can to write, be it on your own blog, for your college magazine, or local street magazines that will print your work. Write some short stories and give them to your friends to read, or even publish them yourself at a site like Lulu.
Of course, to call yourself an author, you'll need to be published. Write your manuscript, and start sending it out. You might like to limit it to a sample, the first three chapters is a good amount. You'll need to write a really good query letter to go with it as well. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen for you right away, most successful authors write more than one novel before they get published.
Author Job Description
An author writes books, but there is far more to this job than just putting pen to paper. Here are some of the tasks an author may find themselves completing.
- Writing content for books
- Coming up with ideas
- Editing work
- Researching story lines and characters
- Communicating with publishing houses
- Promoting and marketing work
- Attending book launches and signings
A big part of being an author is promoting your work once it is published. While a publishing house will do some of this for you, when you are just starting out you will need to do a fair part of the work yourself.
Author Salary and Career Path
Authors are almost always self-employed. Some publishers who specialize in educational texts may keep writers on staff, but most often they are employed on a contract basis. There is a lot of hard work in getting your first piece of work published as well as in promoting it.
It is very hard to predict the income as an author. Some will receive an advance on their work, others will get royalties after books sell. Some who work on contract will get a set amount of money for each job they work on. While some authors make millions of dollars from their work, this is the exception and not the rule.
Some authors may move on to other areas of writing later on in their career, such as journalism or editing. Some may become teachers, or have academic careers.
For those who love their craft, a career as an author can be incredibly rewarding. However, much dedication and work will be needed before the goal of publication can be met. Stay focused on your goals, and work towards them one step at a time.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics