A writer’s life is often viewed through the thick haze of romanticism. Aspiring writers long for the life of a successful wordsmith: sitting in a cozy seaside condo, clicking along on a laptop and sipping a glass of wine to summon the literary muse. In this fantasy, a writer’s only job is to be brilliant, to drop inky pearls of wisdom; the distasteful business of proofing, editing and marketing all happens offstage.
Real writers know that’s a pipe dream. There are query letters to write, summaries to craft, agents to beg, and editors to cajole, before even one page of your work is accepted for review. Few writers emerge from this obstacle course unscathed, and those who do are swept into the mainstream publishing machine, where their fantasies are quickly crushed. That seaside condo becomes as likely as landing a million-dollar book deal with just one query letter.
The good news is that the publishing world is morphing into a completely different animal: with e-books and self-publishing, it’s possible to become a successful author without entering the labyrinth of mainstream publishing. By leveraging the power of the internet and focusing on online readers, a writer can get a little closer to making writing a full-time gig. That condo might not ever be yours, but a career as a writer could be.
Never underestimate the value of a good education. Many writers believe that life experience trumps formal education, but knowing the rules of writing is important, if only to know how to break them. If you’ve never taken a writing class, consider auditing a university class in your area. Online degree programs are also an option for people on the go. Whatever you decide, starting your career on a solid foundation is paramount.
Identify your audience
Before putting fingertips to keyboard, you’ll need to envision your ideal audience. Of course, your first audience is always an audience of one: a good writer writes for herself first. But making sure your work is thematically accessible to a particular pool of readers should be one of your first steps. If you’re writing horror, imagine how your audience will react to your plot elements and pacing. If your work is more academic, consider how an expert would rate your work based on your writing style and evidence presentation.
Going it alone
Once the first step is done, figure out how and where you’d like to publish your work. E-readers are making self-published works available to a much wider audience, and writers like Amanda Hocking are bypassing large publishing houses and hitting the jackpot. If you’re going to self-publish, do your homework and research the best e-book platforms. Make the kind of book cover that would attract your attention; and if you’re not artistically inclined, enlist the help of a friend or a reasonably-priced artist. Finally, devote some time to marketing your book—you’re not only the writer, but you’re the publicist, the agent, maybe even the editor. Do your best to make your book the perfect package. If you’re successful, mainstream publishers might start paying attention—and that’s never a bad thing.
Getting started in the world of self-publishing isn’t as easy as a three-step process: self- and e-publishing are constantly changing, so you’ll have to keep up with those changes and roll with the punches. But if you’re committed to the process and to your work, you might have a future in self-publishing.
Minni Collins is a Midwest freelance writer and copyeditor currently working on her first children’s novel. In her spare time, she enjoys reading obscure science fiction, exploring local cuisine, and connecting with other Midwest writers.
Minnie wrote about the publishing world morphing into a completely different animal. Bookmasters is poised to help you in this rapidly changing industry. We have all the tools you need so that you can accomplish your publishing goals. Contact us today to see how we can equip you to enter the ebook and self-publishing world.