How to Begin Writing Books for a Living
If you are interested in becoming a professional writer who writes books for a living, there are several ways to go about beginning this career. Writing books and making a living from using your creativity and imagination can be a fulfilling and rewarding career. However, it is difficult to make a living from books; it requires hard work, determination and learning skills in marketing, business and publishing.
Query agents, editors and publishers. Set up interviews either in person or over the phone and write up a list of questions to ask them before you meet. Use this opportunity to learn about the publishing market, what types of books are in demand and what sort of authors they need. Use social media websites such as LinkedIn to meet people in the industry, especially other writers who have published books in the genre you are interested in.
Set up a writing schedule. Put aside time each day to do your writing in a space where you will not be disturbed and can concentrate effectively. Some writers with families do this in the early hours of morning or late hours of night. Other writers may go to a cafe after work, or do their writing on their weekends. To write books for a living, you will need to have published more than one book and possibly will be required to have multiple projects in progress at one time.
Research self-publishing your books. Print-on-demand services are now available from companies such as Lulu, offering many authors who wish to bypass traditional publishing the chance to take control of the marketing and selling of their own book. Learn as much as possible about editing, marketing, advertising and sales in order to make your book sell.
Send off your manuscript to a wide range of publishers. Find out what each publisher requires for submissions. Make sure your submission is appropriate to the types of books the publisher produces; for example, a publisher of romance novels will not be interested in a history of military knives. Many publishers require you to act through an agent; however, publishers at smaller houses will often consider unsolicited manuscripts. Publishers may take months before they get back to you about your manuscript, so while they are making decisions, continue writing more books.
Explore ghostwriting. Ghostwriting is where writers are paid to write or edit work that gets credited to another person. Some ghostwriters may be asked to edit drafts, while others are required to write most of the book themselves. While they do not receive credit for their work, ghostwriters are often paid well for their efforts. If you have been published in the past, you may be able to get jobs in this field. Look in the classifieds, contact publishers and research freelance writing websites for ghostwriting jobs.
Set up a professional website. Use this website as an opportunity to advertise your background, skills and publishing portfolio. Professional websites and social networking offer effective opportunities to market yourself and your work and to reach audiences as well as potential clients. Many authors and writers have blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts they use to keep people updated on what they are working on.
- Self-publishing requires to you to edit your books yourself. If you are not confident or experienced with this process, hire a professional editor or book doctor to help you.
- Take creative writing classes to brush up on your writing and editing skills.
- Meet and network with other writers to learn about the business. Contact other writers online, at writing groups, conferences, creative writing classes and readings.
- "The Writer's Guide"; Irina Dunn; 1999
- "So You Want To Write"; Joan Rosier-Jones; 2000
- writing image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com