So You Want to Be an Author…

Now that the ceiling for having a book published has been lowered to the floor, self-publishing is growing exponentially. After all, self-published books topped 450,000 in 2013.

While I applaud the ability for anyone who wishes to be able to produce a book, I also recognize that hundreds of aspiring authors are just throwing their words together and making a book. As a result, the overall quality of books published is taking a hit.

I stumbled across this humorous look at how a number of aspiring authors decide to publish a book. I think it is worth the watch. I know what this video says is true, because, every week, I talk to aspiring authors who want to publish a book. Many of them share these same misconceptions.

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Becoming a Published Author

Being an author, I have many people tell me that they want to write a book but don’t know where to begin. Most of these people want to write out of their own life experience to share with others their journey and what they have learned.

I always encourage these potential authors to start by writing an article about some aspect of their experience. Books are written chapter by chapter, and the best way to do this is to begin with writing a portion of your story in an article form. I then encourage these individuals to submit the article they write to magazines for publication.

Writing articles does a couple of things for a potential author:

  1. It develops your writing skills. Articles force you to write in a concise way to convey your message without too much verbosity.
  2. It gives you feedback on your writing. In other words, is your writing professional enough for a magazine or a newsletter to publish it?
  3. It builds your author bio. People feel that an author is more credible if they have previously been published. So adding “(author’s name)’s articles have appeared in several magazines” to a bio gives you additional credibility in the reader’s eyes.

Last month, I spoke at a small writers’ conference. Although all the attendees wanted to become published authors (and many already were penning or had penned a book they hoped to get published), surprisingly, not one of these potential authors had had an article (or even a blog post) published.

My twelve-year-old daughter loves to write short stories. I noticed that several of her stories were rather fun to read, so I encourage her to try to get her stories published. We looked up various magazines for young girls and my daughter began to submit her stories. This month, she had her first story published in the New Moon Girls magazine.

If you are thinking about or are in the process of writing a book, let me encourage you to first try to get an article (or even a blog post) published. Publishing even one article allows you to hold the title of “published author.” If my twelve-year-old daughter can find a magazine to publish her story, you can too.

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