How to become an author (according to the Internet)


It is the most common question I encounter when talking about this stuff, so today we are going to answer the question of how to become an author. At least according to the Internet.

We asked Google “How do I become an author”. This is what we found.

Write something and then self-publish it.

If you asked Forbes about how to become an author the answer seems to be “self-publish“. the reason they give is that you get to keep all or almost all oft he profits. Which is fine if you sell a lot of books but 100% of nothing is, well, nothing. If you choose to self-publish you also have to self-promote and do sales yourself.

With self-publishing, it is all on you.

Author Buzz can and does help with that but it is nowhere near as simple as Forbes makes it out to be.

Become an author in five really difficult steps

stairsHumour website Cracked has a guide on how to become an author in 5 incredibly difficult steps. While the article itself is humorous, they are not wrong. Becoming an author is not easy. In fact, if you are not driven to write, do something easier like lion taming. Seriously, the only reason you have for selecting author as a life choice is that the voices will not shut up.

If you have any way to just walk away from writing and never think about it ever again, do that.

On the other hand, if you are like us and just cannot stop writing, just keep writing.

Read all the advice on how to become an author

The blog at NowNovel.com has ten top author’s tips on how to get started. They are good tips but they are only tips.

The amount you will need to learn before you get published is likely to be huge. You may want to skip tot he end and see our list of things authors need to do.

How to become a novelist: 10 top authors’ tips

Read all the books

booksThe best advice that James Campbell gave to the readers of The Guardian was read lots of books. It is literally his first tip. It is also our first one, so you know he might be right.

Reading other authors will teach you far more than anything else you can do.

Don’t just read inside your genre, do that too, but read as widely as possible. Read books you might never have otherwise have chosen o read. Read good books and figure out why they are good. Read terrible books and work out why they fail. read books that are pretty average but sold well and try and figure out why they did better than they deserved.

Read all the books.

How to become an author? Get good at writing!

If you want to be an author then you need to get not just good but great at writing. WikiHow is a bit more diplomatic about it. They say, develop your skill. Which is a nice way of saying get good at writing by practising until you can write really well.

Honestly though, getting good at writing is a step I see a lot of new writers try to skip and the results are painful to read.

The simple answer here is: Just write. A lot. Like, every day.

The more you write, the more you practice your craft, the sooner you will get good at it. Time invested is progress towards the goal.

Use notebooks

notebookSophie Kinsella told the BBC her tips for how to become an author. They start with carrying a notebook at all times and continue on to keeping your book a secret.

We are not sure about the keeping it a secret, having people ask about your book can be a great motivator, but being able to record ideas when you have them can help a lot.

While we were equally divided on the subject of drinking cocktails we do agree that writing the book you want to read. If you have a passion for what you are writing, then that passion can transfer to your work and your readers will feel it too.

So, the main tip again, use a notebook.

Get a good agent

If you can, get an agent. It is not easy and it may be just as hard as getting a publisher directly but if you can, get one.

Nicholas Sparks main point of advice on the topic of becoming an author is “get an agent”. You can find a growing listing of agents in the directory.

Agents are great, they approach publishers for you, negotiate better deals, oh and they take a cut of whatever they got you. On the whole, this is worth it.

Send your stuff to publishers

Austin Macauley Publishers have a page on their website which supposes to tell you how to become an author. Their answer is, submit your stuff to us.

That might seem kind of obvious but you will never become an author (at least not a published one) if you do not at least approach a publishing house. Unless you self-publish but that is not for everyone.

When the book is written send it out. Publishers and agents will say yes or they will say no. If they say yes, congratulations but if they say no (and they are quite likely to) figure out why and try again.

Our list of 5 parts of how to become an author

So that was what the Internet said when we asked about how to become an author. This is what we say.

  1. Read something every day and not just in your own genre.
  2. Write every day
  3. Learn about the theory of storytelling
  4. Emulate the most talented (not the most successful) authors in your field
  5. Finish what you start

Most important and above all else – never give up. If you remember no other tip or advice on becoming an author remember this one, there are a lot of people who try, fail, and give up. There are far fewer who fail and then keep trying.

The secret to anything in life is to keep going despite failure. Being an author is no different.

Now go and make wonderful stories (and maybe let us read them).


About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative Writers as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.