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How to Become an Author: 8 Steps to Bestselling Success

book writer education

Wondering how to become an author? Well, that answer will depend on the type of author you want to be.

Maybe you’ve always been a writer at heart, and are ready to share your story with the world and earn the title of “author.”

Or maybe you’re passionate about a certain topic and are ready to help others by sharing your expertise.

Regardless of your reason – the issue still stands: you want to know how to become an author of a book and a bestselling one at that. So what is an author anyway? And how does becoming an author work?

To learn how to become an author, the short answer is: You write a book.

Sounds simple, right?  

But writing is rarely simple. So, let’s go for the more complex dilemma: How to become an author of a book that actually gets read .

You want to author a book that’s phenomenal, polished, and packed with content that readers will truly connect with.  So how do you do that?

In this guide, we’ll focus on how to become an author of a book that sells . But before we dive into the steps on how to become an author, it's important you understand exactly what an author is.

This guide to how to become an author will cover:

What does it mean to become an author.

When you learn how to become an author, it means that you ideated, created, and produced a written work, most commonly a book, novel, short story , poem, or other literary work of prose.

Traditionally, an author meant someone who had written a book, and this connotation still stands today, but it has expanded with societal changes. The term author can actually pertain to journalists, essayists, and those in the digital space such as bloggers or article writers.

Writer vs author

What's the difference between a writer and author , you ask? Great question.

While writer and author are often used interchangeably, there is definitely a difference between the two. An author is a writer, but a writer isn't always an author.

Difference Between A Writer Vs Author

How hard is it to become an author?

While the path of learning how to become an author is easier with today's technology and the rise of self-publishing, learning how to become an author takes determination, hard work, and usually a specific set of skills (which we'll cover more on later).

For some, opportunity comes easier than it does for others. Some people become an author and find quick success, whereas others struggle for years to complete their book and publish it.

For most people, creating a consistent writing routine and actually getting the words written is the hardest part – in which case a book writing coach could be just the person you need in your corner, keeping you motivated and accountable.

It also depends on the book publishing method, which we'll explain more on in the publishing section of this article. For example, traditional publishing deals are hard to come by, and it is a lengthy process. On the other hand, self-publishing makes becoming an author more accessible.

How to become an author in 8 simple steps

Now that you have a deeper understanding of what being an author entails, it's time to dive into the exact process of how to become an author.

When learning how to become an author, here are the eight steps you should take:

1. Invest in education

Learning how to become an author doesn't have any formal educational requirements. But at minimum, a high school degree is recommended. Becoming an author mainly requires that you have a strong set of skills, like the ability to read and write well.

When learning how to become an author, having a degree isn't required, but it can help.

There is a wide range of educational levels for authors, from those with a basic high school education to those who have completed doctorate programs. Pursuing a higher formal education degree can certainly help you learn how to become an author, but it's not a requirement.

Whether you get a degree or not, you must be an exceptional writer and avid reader to improve your chances of becoming an author of a book that actually gets read .

Our society values higher education . When you’re exploring new careers, the first question is usually: What kind of education is needed for this job?

So, it isn’t any wonder that people researching how to become an author immediately ask what type of education or credentials are needed to write a book.

A caveat to this: If you’re looking to publish a book on a specific topic , you must be an expert in that field or industry. A college degree helps build your credibility significantly, even though it is not completely necessary.

Common degrees to consider for aspiring book writers

  • English . Anyone with a college degree in English has spent the majority of their college career taking classes on writing development and reading literature for deep analysis. Those with an English degree usually have a strong command of writing, and study the works of famous authors.
  • Literature . Similar to a degree in English, a degree in Literature follows the same course syllabus in the sense that it is heavily focused on reading, analyzing, and writing about literary works.
  • Creative writing . Writers with a degree in Creative Writing have undergone extensive academic courses surrounding creative writing fundamentals and storytelling. Creative Writing students are expected to write rigorously to improve their craft.
  • History . Because history goes hand-in-hand with many literary subjects, those with a degree in History will have a well-rounded skillset to apply as an author.
  • Journalism . Writers with a journalism background are likely educated on news-style writing, features, interview processes, and more. Those with a journalism degree often have experience as newspaper columnists or feature writers, which can translate well into an author career.
  • Psychology . Those who study psychology have an in-depth understanding of human behavior and interaction, which makes for great writing, especially in fiction.
  • Communications . People with a communications degree often have experience in news-writing, marketing, public relations, and more, which are all fields that rely heavily on great writing skills.
  • Theater/cinema . Those with a theater background make great authors and writers due to their creativity, understanding of character dynamics, and screenwriting skills.
  • Liberal arts . Any degree in liberal arts is likely to be focused on heavy research and writing – no matter the field. Therefore, a liberal arts degree can set you up well for learning how to become an author.
  • A degree in any subject you want to write about! If you have a particular industry or niche that you want to focus on in your writing, pursue a degree in that! For example, if I could re-do college all over again, I would pursue a minor degree in Women's Studies, because I love to write about those topics.

Alternatives to college degrees

There are also non-degree online education options for aspiring authors to consider. These are a great choice if you want to learn how to write a book or publish a book on your own. Programs like these are focused on achieving a specific goal, and can be completed at a quicker pace. (Example: Himalayan Writing Retreat )

If you get a traditional college degree, you likely will NOT learn how to write and publish a book. So, if you know for sure that you want to learn how to become an author, you'll save time and money by investing in a course or program that's specific to publishing.

For example, there are many online education programs specifically for aspiring authors, including self-publishing courses.

Be sure to thoroughly do your research to make sure the program is a good fit for your needs.

Online education options

  • Self-Publishing courses . Start here if you want to join an education program that provides a complete roadmap to becoming a bestselling author.
  • Coursera . Consider a program where you can select specific topics to learn about.
  • Udemy . You can find cost-effective micro-courses based on specific topics around writing and publishing.
  • MasterClass . There are limited courses for aspiring authors on this platform, but if you're particularly interested in learning how to improve your writing from bestselling, world-renowned authors like Margaret Atwood, check this out.
  • CreativeLive . Another option for creative courses specific to certain topics around developing certain creative skills.
Training ProgramSelf-Publishing Courses Courses that teach how to write and publish a book
Learning PlatformSites like SkillShare Coursera, Udemy, MasterClass Micro-course offerings that teach specific topics on writing and publishing
Hands-on LearningReal world experienceMany would argue that the best education you can get to become an author is to develop a skillset that improves your writing craft
CollegeEnglish DegreeClasses on writing development and reading literature for deep analysis
CollegeLiterature DegreeHeavily focused on reading, analyzing, and writing on literary works.
CollegeCreative Writing ProgramCreative writing fundamentals and storytelling
CollegeHistoryExtensive writing and research skill development
CollegeJournalismExtensive writing, research, and communication skill development
CollegePsychologyUnderstanding of human behavior and interaction, which makes for great character development
CollegeCommunicationsDevelop a broad skillset in writing, publish relations, marketing, and more
CollegeTheater/CinemaBuild creativity, understanding of character dynamics, and screenwriting skill.
CollegeLiberal ArtsHeavy research and writing - no matter the field.
CollegeA degree in any subject you want to write aboutIf you have a particular industry or niche that you want to focus on in your writing, pursue a degree in that!

2. Learn the skills to become a successful author

While there aren’t any formal education requirements to learn how to become an author of a book, there are certainly some important skills that many successful writers have in common.

Consider these skills like prerequisites – you should aim to improve these skills if you truly want to learn how to become a writer.

In a society of high competition, possessing many of these skills will set you apart and increase your chances of gaining a solid readership.

How To Become An Author: Top Skills For Authors

The top skills needed to learn how to become an author are:

Exceptional writing development skills

Being an excellent writer who can communicate effectively through words is the premise of learning how to become an author successfully. We’ll cover more on the fundamentals of writing that you should master in the next section, but you can check out these writing websites to learn how to be a better writer.

Creative storytelling that engages

It’s an art in itself! Whether you’re writing nonfiction or fiction, no matter what genre your book falls in, you need to be able to craft an engaging story that pulls readers in.

The ability to research well

Ask any successful author, and they will tell you that a major factor in successfully writing a book is to conduct thorough research . You need to know your content in and out – whether you’re writing historical fiction, a children's picture book , or a self-help book.

Since you’re reading this article and researching how to become an author, there’s a good chance you’re already research-savvy!

The tendency to naturally observe people and places

In order to create life-size characters, make your story come alive, and describe people and events vividly, you need to possess the power of observation. If you’re not one to naturally sit back and watch from the sidelines, try improving your observation skills .

Vulnerability and grit

Authors put everything they possess into their writing. It takes vulnerability to put your words out there, and resilience to keep at it when the going gets tough. To learn how to become an author, you’ll need to overcome some serious mental blocks, and be courageous even when you’re overworked or fearing judgment.

How To Become An Author: Skills Needed To Become An Author

3. Master the fundamentals of book writing

Having an excellent command of writing skills builds a solid foundation on which to begin your author journey.

Many people can write, but not many people can write well. And if you can’t write well, that’s okay!

The good news is that there are a number of ways to improve your writing.

YouTube video

Writing isn’t necessarily a talent, it’s a craft. It can be cultivated. It can be strengthened. And with a growth mindset, you can improve your writing skills by mastering the fundamentals.

Some basic examples of the fundamentals of writing are being able to express ideas clearly and in an organized fashion, using powerful word choice , developing a clear point of view , and using proper grammar and punctuation .

However, there are a lot more fundamental writing techniques to learn and implement in your own writing.

  • Learn the writing fundamentals. First, learn all there is to know! You can learn basic writing fundamentals by taking writing development courses, and reading books on writing.
  • Study the fundamentals. Be an avid, deep reader. Don’t just read to understand the story. Read to analyze how the author told that story. Study the author’s style, specifically in the genres you want to write in. By doing this, you’ll start to identify characteristics of remarkable writing.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Put what you’ve learned into practice. Remember all the literary elements you learned about in school. Start actually using those in your writing. Try mirroring an author’s style that you admire. Write often and make it part of your everyday life. Write in a journal , complete writing prompts, write letters to friends, or write short stories.
  • Explore different genres. Part of finding your author's voice and developing yourself as a writer means experimenting with other genres that you may not have written on before. Use creative writing prompts to help you practice your writing fundamentals.
  • Show, don't tell in writing . This is the number one rule to writing , and it's important for you to master it. Practice showing and not telling in your own writing, and understand when to use it.

While you shouldn’t cut corners on your writing development, it’s important to not get stuck in this phase.

At the end of the day, you can read and take all the courses in the world, but the most growth and development you will experience is when you’re actually writing.

4. Create a positive author mindset

Many writers experience feelings of insecurity. Ernest Hemingway supposedly said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

If writers are figuratively transforming the essence of their being into words on paper for others to read, then it’s no wonder the best writers suffer from their own insecurities and fear of judgment !

Feeling inadequate is expected, and totally normal. But the ability to pursue your goal to learn how to become an author (despite your fear) is what will set you apart from all the other aspiring book writers out there.

How To Become An Author: How To Create An Author Mindset

Steps to build a positive author mindset:

  • Overcome imposter syndrome and self-doubt as a writer . Give yourself permission to be an author. Don’t shy away from calling yourself a writer – start owning it.
  • Accept that you’re a work in progress. Don’t strive for perfection in writing. Maintain a growth mindset , and understand that there is always room for improvement. You are constantly learning, and improving, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. If you wait for perfection, it’ll never get done.
  • Set a writing habit. Making writing part of your daily lifestyle is super important. If you tend to wait for inspiration as a writer, you’ll be left high and dry more often than not. We’ll cover more on how to set a writing habit in the next section.
  • Focus, focus, focus. We’ve all been there. You sit down at the table to write, and find that an hour has passed and you’ve only churned out a few sentences. Find a focus technique that works for you and stick to it.
  • Think courageously. Try not to get too bogged down in the negative “what-ifs.” What if no one likes my book? What if my writing sucks? What if this book is an entire flop? It’s okay to fear failure, but learn to shake it off and be courageous instead. For every negative thought you have, try to think of two positive thoughts!
  • Define your own success. Success means something different for every author. Some writers want to share their words with the world, while others simply want to build an author's salary to support their writing. Whatever your reason is, get clarity around your definition of success.

5. Write Your first book to learn how to become an author

To truly learn how to become an author, you have to write a book first.

The world is full of great writers with stories to share. The trouble for many is – they never get around to actually finishing a book.

It also depends on what type of book you want to write. If you want to write a nonfiction book , the process is different than learning how to write a novel . The same is true if you're learning how to write a memoir .

This is where it can really get tough. But with grit, determination, and a clear game plan, you can do it. We’re cheering for you!

Here are the steps to write a book and learn how to become an author:  

Get clear on your foundation

Because writing a book can be an uphill battle, you want to make sure your foundation is rock solid. This means getting clear on why you want to become the author of this book. Once you’re super clear on your foundation, you’ll be able to write your book with intention.

Foundational questions you’ll want to ask yourself are:

  • When do you want to have this book done by?
  • How will you position the book?
  • Who are you writing this book for (your target reader)?
  • What is your book's topic or genre?
  • To grow your income
  • To build a reputation/authority
  • To fuel a passion project
  • To share a story or knowledge

Brainstorm with a mind map

Letting your ideas flow freely with a mind map is an effective way to get those creative juices flowing. With so many ideas to explore for your book’s topic, mind map exercises will help you “brain dump” all your thoughts.

Follow these steps to create a mind map for your book:

  • Set a timer for 10-15 minutes to start.
  • Always be writing – don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just write out your thoughts without reservations!
  • Start with a central idea, topic, or concept.
  • Add connecting branches of key ideas that relate to that central idea.
  • Jot down any words that tie ideas together.
  • Use colored highlighters or sticky notes to organize similar concepts or ideas.

YouTube video

Create an outline

Using your mind map, start creating a basic outline for your book. Don’t get hung up on the details. Think of it in terms of a beginning, a middle, and an end. A simple outline will help you get the ball rolling as you start writing your first draft. As you dive deeper into the writing, your outline can get more detailed, and be revised as needed.

Set a writing schedule

Commit to your writing goals each and every day if you want to learn how to become an author. Set a specific plan for yourself, and set small milestones or goals, whether it’s by word count or time spent writing .

You can have all the ideas in the world, but if you aren’t setting time aside each day to actually write, then the chances of your book being completed will be low.

Tips for setting a writing schedule:

  • Set up a distraction-free writing space
  • Plan for short brain breaks to avoid burnout
  • Set a daily word count goal
  • Do NOT edit as you write
  • Have a buddy keep you accountable
  • Use book writing software to help you meet your daily goals
  • Set a deadline to complete your book by

How To Become An Author: Tips To Set A Writing Schedule

Write your rough draft

Sounds simple, but it’s definitely easier said than done. You can do it! The only way to write a book is to actually sit down and do it. You become a book writer by writing a completed book. Use your outline for guidance, and remember – don’t edit while you write !

Self-edit your book

Once your rough draft is completed, it’s important that you focus on self-editing your book. Although your book will go through a professional editing phase during the publishing process, if you self-edit thoroughly, your editor will be able to focus on other edits that you weren’t able to catch.

Tips for self-editing your book:

  • Do a verbal read – through to find areas of improvement in your sentence structure and storyline.
  • Work chapter by chapter to increase productivity and focus.
  • Don’t get stuck in the editing phase.
  • Remember that any points of uncertainty will be cleared up in the professional editing phase.

How To Become An Author: Tips For Self-Editing Your Book

6. Publish your book

Through blood, sweat, and tears, you’ve committed to writing your book, and have officially become a writer.

Now, it’s time to take the next step and learn how to become an author. And that means publishing your book!

How To Become An Author Of A Book

Here’s how to become an author of a published book:

Decide how to publish

Modern book writers are faced with a major decision on how to publish a book . There are two ways to publish: traditionally publish or self-publish .

YouTube video

You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each, including the cost to publish , and determine which route is more advantageous for you.

If you traditionally publish your book , this means that an actual publishing company will publish your book for you. However, landing a book contract with a traditional publisher is extremely competitive, and the chances are slim for most authors.

So what is self-publishing , you ask? If you self-publish your book , this means that you will be in charge of the publishing process yourself. There are many benefits in going this route, but you'll need to make sure you are self-publishing the right way to ensure book quality and success .

Steps to traditionally publish a book

  • Pitch your book draft to literary agents.
  • If your manuscript is accepted by an agent, your book will be pitched to publishers.
  • If a publisher accepts your work, you will be offered a book contract.
  • The publisher will have your book edited, formatted, and designed.
  • You earn royalties based on the number of books that are sold.

Steps to self-publish a book

  • Find a book editor for each type of editing needed
  • Hire a formatter (if needed) for your book.
  • Hire a professional book cover designer to create an engaging book cover.
  • Choose which self-publishing platforms to sell your book on.
  • Upload the book to the self-publishing platform.

If you still need help deciding how to publish, compare your earning potential with our Book Royalties Calculator .

1. My book will be published by a...

2. my book will be an:, 3. my royalty rate will be:.

*Please note that this royalty rate is based on the market averages for paperback books. Actual royalty rates for traditional and indie publishing can vary by author depending on several factors.

4. My book’s retail price:

5. the # of books sold:, your results, your profit per book sold, for books sold, you earn:, for 1,000 books sold, you earn:, for 10,000 books sold, you earn:, royalties comparisons for 10,000 books sold, want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox, 7. market your book to become a bestselling author.

Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish, you need to launch and market your book to learn how to become an author successfully.

This step is crucial because if you don’t market your book, how are you going to reach potential readers?

You dedicated time, effort, and – at times – your sanity, to get your book out. Now it’s time to let the world know about it.

You’ll need a strategic book launch and marketing plan in place, which should include a number of techniques to gain readership and sell your book.

Book marketing strategies to consider

  • Build a launch team before your official book release
  • Social media marketing , such as on Pinterest and Instagram
  • Effective book pricing that appeals to prospective readers
  • Build an author website to create your own author platform
  • Use book advertising on various book promo sites like BookBub
  • Get book reviews to increase visibility, reach, and credibility

To dive deep into your book marketing , plan ahead, set a budget, do research, and reach out to your network!

How To Become An Author: Become A Bestselling Author With Book Reviews

8. Write another book!

Your first book is a learning experience, and once your first book is published, you'll realize how many ideas you have for more books.

And that is where the real success comes in. In today's digital author landscape, it's important to keep writing books in order to build a career as an author.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that one book will find instant success. While that does happen for some writers, it is the exception and NOT the rule.

So keep going! Write your next book. The more books you write, the smoother your process will become.

Are you ready to become an author?

Great books make the world go ‘round, which is why we’re all about helping writers learn how to become authors.

As you research how to become an author, one thing becomes clear: it’s a process that takes time, dedication, and some serious effort.

But nothing worth having comes easy.

Books are life-changing, not just for the book writer, but for the book readers all across the world that will learn from your story.

Becoming an author can be one of the most rewarding, and fulfilling accomplishments of your life. You deserve to celebrate it!

Ready To Learn How to Become An Author? This FREE eBook Will Walk You Step-By-Step Through The ENTIRE PROCESS

Faqs about how to become an author.

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about what an author is and how to become an author:

What is a writer?

A writer is someone who writes or expresses ideas or concepts through the written word. There are many people who write for a variety of reasons – whether it's part of their occupation, or for creative expression.

Types of writers that aren't necessarily authors:

  • Technical writers
  • Ghostwriters
  • Copywriters
  • Content writers
  • Songwriters

Can anyone be a writer?

It depends on the type of writer, but yes, technically anyone can be a writer as long as they know how to write. However, specialized writers, such as technical writers and copywriters often require advanced experience and/or degrees in order to be qualified for a writing position. Of course, learning how to become an author is a different story, entirely.

What is an author?

Authors are people who write books, novels, short stories, poems, literary prose, and even screenplays.

What is an author, exactly? An author is someone who has written and published a complete literary work. The publishing is key. If you haven't published your work, then you are a writer but not an author.

How do authors get paid?

Authors can be paid in a variety of ways, but most commonly authors are paid through book advancements and royalty fees.

How much do authors get paid?

The average author salary has a very wide range, and an author's income depends on a number of criteria, such as the number of books published, the publishing method, the book genre and topic, and the success of the book.

As of writing, the current average author salary is between $35,000 to $135,000.

How do i get started as an author?

Really, you just need to start writing! Finish a manuscript, edit it, hire a book cover designer and a marketing team, and learn how to self-publish a book . It may seem like an overwhelming process at first, but there are self-publishing companies that can help you with every step along the way.

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How to Become An Author: A Step-by-Step Guide

Discover how to become an author in our step-by-step guide.

I wanted to become an author since I was five, but I didn’t take writing books seriously until my thirties. I spent far more time talking about writing than writing. It was only after learning how to write every day that I finally wrote and published my first book.

Since then, I’ve written several books and interviewed dozens of authors about their process, including New York Times best-selling authors. I’ve self-published multiple books and co-wrote a USA Today best-seller.

I discovered many people say they have a book inside of them, but few commit time, energy and resources and turn their idea for a great book into a published work. 

That’s a shame because it’s easier than ever to become an author today. The tools are more affordable and readily available than ever. Aspiring authors don’t need permission from an agent or publisher either. Furthermore, becoming an author enables many writers to earn a good living from what they love, but it starts with writing that first book. 

In this article, I explain how you can become an author faster based on my experiences and talking to other authors who find success.

1. Read Widely

2. learn the art of storytelling, 3. write a little every day, 4. write short stories and blog post, 5. take a creative writing class, 6. pick a genre, 7. research your book, 8. select your book writing tools, 9. set a deadline, 10. outline your book, 11. write a rough draft, 12. track your wordcount, 13. finish your drafts, 14. learn how to self-edit, 15. hire a professional editor, 16. face your fears, 17. try self-publishing, 18. hire a book cover designer, 19. avoid letting perfectionism halt your writing career, 20. sell your book, the final word, how much does an author get paid, what qualifications do you need to become an author, does an author make good money, what is the best time to publish a book, how can you become a best-selling author (steps to follow).

As a writer, your free time is often best spent reading rather than streaming the latest hit show on social media. Successful authors spend hours each week reading books inside and outside their comfort zone. 

These authors study what works in these books to understand their preferred genre or niche conventions. They also develop their skills by questioning what doesn’t work inside of best-selling books. Many authors describe writing out sections of books they love by hand so they can understand how the author wrote. 

This type of analytical rigour helps creatives develop a writing voice. Stephen King said about the importance of reading for authors: 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.”

Reading books about the craft can also acquire the skills you need for the genre in question. For inspiration, check out our list of the best writing books .

Fiction authors understand how important it’s to hook readers’ attention from the first few pages. They spend hours learning how to show rather than tell and create memorable characters who jump to life off the page. They create characters who want something and change fundamentally as the story progresses.

Successful non-fiction authors do more than impart information and research to readers. Consider Malcolm Gladwell. He’s as famous for research as he is for telling captivating stories that entertain and inspired. 

Storytelling is more important than any writing skill, including grammar and line editing. You can learn this skill by taking writing courses or by reading some of the best books about stories. I particularly enjoyed the storytelling seminar by Robert McKee and his books on the same topic.

For help with stories, read our storytelling guide .

How to become an author? Write a little every day

If you’re worried your book writing skills aren’t good enough, work through your reps. The more sentences you write, the stronger your command of language will become. The more clichés you terminate, the better you’ll become at editing.

Rather than trying to write your book for hours at the weekend, work on it a little every day. Any aspiring author can find fifteen or thirty minutes to work on their first drafts and book outlines before or after work. 

Remove time-sinks like reading the news, consuming social media or streaming the latest show on Netflix. These small writing sessions quickly accumulate. If you need help, a good set of writing prompts can trigger a productive writing session.

The more chapters you write, the better you’ll be at articulating stories and ideas. And the more books you finish, the more you’ll know how to write a book. And the next book. And the next.

Every aspiring author should write either short stories or blog posts before tackling a fiction or non-fiction book. A book averaging 50,000 words can take months to write and edit, but you can write a short story in a few days or over a week, as they are only several thousand words long. 

These smaller writing projects offer aspiring authors a chance to explore different types of writing, genres and niches. They also help cultivate a writing habit of starting and finishing creative projects. 

You can publish the short story on Wattpad, submit it to a writing contest, or potentially expand it into a novel or a book. Even if you never publish it, consider it a type of writing practice that improves your storytelling skills.

Non-fiction authors should write several blog posts or articles about the topic of choice and publish them on social media platforms like Medium. They can explore their thinking and get feedback from readers and editors before spending months writing a book.

Learn how to get paid writing short stories.

Wanting to become an author can feel like a strange writing goal if you’re not spending much time in the company of other creatives. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an MFA or a degree in creative writing to connect with other creatives, either. 

Spending a few weeks or months in the company of aspiring authors may inspire you to work harder on your craft. They can also hold you to account and offer feedback on your early drafts and book ideas. What’s more, you could form connections with future professional authors.

I took creative writing classes at the Irish Writer’s Centre in Dublin a few years ago. Several students went on to become published authors with traditional book deals.

A good author understands what readers expect from them. For example, James Patterson doesn’t attempt to write literary prose because his audience is more concerned with page-turning thrillers. Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t write self-help because he understands his audience prefers story-telling combined with research. Popular fiction genres include:

  • Science-fiction
  • Speculative fiction
  • Modern literature
  • Action and adventure
  • Children’s books

Popular non-fiction genres include:

  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Pop psychology

Identify the best-selling books and authors in your preferred and ask yourself what they’re doing that readers love. Figure out an ideal target audience for the genre in question. How old are they, what sex and what other books do they like? 

What do they expect from a book in this genre? After all, thriller readers don’t care much for the latest magic or tech found in fantasy and science-fiction books! Including or excluding certain conventions will dictate the quality of book reviews later on.

For help, read our guide to book genres .

Book research is a vital part of the creative process. Fiction authors can travel to locations or settings they want to include in their books and take pictures and videos. Or they can use Google maps and a good travel book if they are short on time and budget. 

Non-fiction authors can interview subject matter experts about their topic of choice. Consider using a service like Descript or Rev for transcriptions to save time with interviews. These book interviews demonstrate credibility and also improve the quality of the book. They can also serve as material for blog posts and articles promoting the book in question. 

However, avoid letting research become a form of procrastination whereby you endlessly hunt for better ideas and information. At some point, an author has to turn their notes into words.

A good writing app can help you plan, outline, write and edit a book quickly and easily. Scrivener is perfect for long-form writing, as you can drag and drop sections of a book. I also like using Grammarly for book editing, although it’s not a replacement for a proofreader. Vellum is a good choice for laying out a book, but it’s Mac only. 

Read our guide to the best grammar checkers .

You can quickly write a book using a standard word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Remember, hitting a daily word count and publication date is more important than any tool. So pick one that suits your writing style and budget and stick with it until done.

How to become an author? Set a deadline

Professional authors hold themselves to account with deadlines. They pick an ideal publication date and work backwards. James Patterson, for example, publishes several books a year and relies on contracts with his publishers and his audience’s expectations. 

If it’s your first book, break it down into smaller milestones you can tick off one by one. You could pick a target date for finishing your book’s first act and a date for sending a draft to an editor. 

While setting these deadlines, block book time in your calendar for writing the book each day. Ideally, you’ll work on it simultaneously so that writing becomes a daily habit and not a chore. Allow room for error when setting deadlines, too—plan for holidays, work and life events.

Some writers are plotters. They like outlining and planning extensively in advance, as this process saves them time. Other authors like writing from the seat of their pants, whereby they turn up and see where the muse and their characters lead them. 

If you’re the former type of author, outline a book using index cards. They’re cheap and don’t have a learning curve or need Wi-Fi! I drafted an entire book previously using about 50 index cards. Each represented a chapter for the book and contained the key points I’d write about. The best mind-mapping software can help authors who are more visually-inclined

I use outlining as I can arrange the key ideas for a book chapter using bullet points. I can move them around and fix the structure of a chapter without worrying about line edits during an early draft. Outlining also works well for authors who dictate early drafts. 

Read our guide to the best outlining software .

The job of a first draft is to exist. Don’t worry about grammar errors, typos and other mistakes. Instead, focus on getting the words out of your head and onto the blank page as quickly as possible. Ernest Hemingway famously said:

 “The first draft of anything is shit.” 

Focus on writing the book’s first draft as quickly as possible, so you’ve something to work with and shape into a book during the revision process. 

Consider dictating the first draft using software like Dragon. It’s possible to dictate thousands of words per hour without stopping to fix typos and other mistakes. An author could dictate their book while out for a walk, tapping into the benefits of exercise and creativity. Prolific authors like PD Woodhouse famously outlined their stories using a voice recorder and gave their notes to a secretary to typos up. 

For help, learn how to practice dictation.

Writing a book is one part creative and another part hard work. Oliver Stone once said, “Writing is butt in the chair.”

Becoming an author is easier if you hold yourself to account by tracking your daily output. For most writers, this type of quantification involves keeping track of a daily word count. 

Do this in a spreadsheet or notebook. That way, you can realistically evaluate your daily output and if you will hit those deadlines. Review your production once a week and assess if you’re turning up often enough in front of the blank page.

During the editing process, consider changing what you track to time spent working on the book rather than a daily word count. The editing process involves condensing, clarifying and revising rather than hitting an arbitrary word-count goal daily.

It’s easy to start a book draft, but it’s much harder to finish writing it. However, authors must learn the value of persistence. After completing a book draft, you’ll have something to show to beta readers and an editor. 

By finishing, you can become the kind of author who thinks of an idea, fleshes their idea out, edits, rewrites, polishes and rewrites some more, then presses publish. That takes guts.

The editing process often isn’t as gruelling as writing that painful first draft, either. Feedback is invaluable. It’s your chance to learn how to become a better writer. Neil Gaiman said about the importance of finishing book drafts:

“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.”

For help, check out our list of first draft examples .

After finishing a book draft, let it sit for several days or even weeks. It’s best to separate writing and editing as they engage different brain parts.

When you’re less attached to your book draft, read through the draft in one or two sittings marking it up with annotations. Identify what structural changes the piece needs first and rewrite accordingly. 

Condense, clarify and revise. Ensure each chapter draws on the five senses and has compelling hooks or stories so that it hooks readers. 

While revising the first time, don’t worry about typos and grammar mistakes. You can fix these during later drafts once the book’s structure is set. Later, look for sections with readability issues and consider if you’ve overused words and clichés.

Check out our list of manuscript editing software .

Hire a professional editor

A good book editor helps with revising, restructuring and proofreading your book. Best to involve them earlier in the book writing process than you think. They will save you time on rewrites and provide valuable advice for your writing career. You can send them book chapters or acts as you finish them rather than at the end. 

Plus, many good book editors have a waiting list and may not be able to review a draft for weeks or even months and not when you finish it. You can find a book editor using a service like Reedsy.

Typically, an author should budget for a developmental editor who works on the book’s structure. They’ll also need a line editor or copy editor who will fix sentence structure and grammar issues. Finally, they’ll need a proofreader to spot typos and other mistakes. That said, it’s possible to commission one editor who can complete all these services as part of a single package. 

Expect to pay one to three thousand dollars depending on the length of your book, genre, and the work required.

Most authors have many unpublished works on their computers and know more about disappointment than success. Stephen Pressfield , the author of many best-sellers, including the War of Art , tried to become an author for years. He said:

“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”

Writing is personal and not something you can fake or dial in. If you want to finish writing your book, you’ll fail at some point. For help, learn more about conquering common writing fears .

Some aspiring authors worry about what will happen after they publish a book. How will friends and family react? One new writer emailed me to say she worried about what would happen if she became famous. She wrote:

“I want to tell stories, and I want people to read them and get joy and satisfaction from them; I just don’t want to become a subject under a microscope!

Worrying about how those around you will react to your book is natural. It’s normal to wonder what will happen if you become known for being a writer.

Well, it’s impossible to please everyone, so if some people aren’t comfortable with your success, that’s their problem. If you succeed, you’ll discover a new side to yourself and your craft, which will only enrich your life.

After all, you will regret not having the courage to see your ideas and your book through later. So hold through to your values, and finish writing that book. 

Years ago, a young writer had to learn how to write a book, find an agent, and land a book deal. Traditional publishing is tough to break into when starting out with no name recognition.

Nowadays, you can write and self-publish a book on Amazon, Kobo and Act for several hundred dollars. Technically, you can do it for free, but I’d recommend budgeting for working with an editor, proofreader, and cover designer.

Self-publishing a book will teach you how the process works and help you discover the types of titles you want to write in the future. It may even land you a traditional book publishing deal, as happened with Hugh Howie, author of Wool and E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey .

If you’re exploring self-publishing, consider what formats you’ll create. For example, many non-fiction authors earn more money from audiobooks than Kindle books. Similarly, fiction authors can earn more from print copies. 

For inspiration, read our profile of famous authors who self-published .

A good book cover is a primary driver for book sales. Best not to skimp on it. Hire a professional book cover designer who can create a compelling cover relevant to your genre. 

As many readers buy books online, your cover must look good in small sizes and on the Amazon store. Don’t attempt to create a cover yourself unless you have professional design skills. Your time is better spent editing and writing than tinkering in Photoshop or other design software.

If your budget is tight, you could buy a pre-made cover for one or two hundred dollars and swap it out later when you’ve more money. 

Learn more about working with a book cover designer .

Many aspiring authors hold off on writing and publishing a book until they have enough time, money and skills. That’s a mistake. Every author learns by doing.

In my mid-twenties, I spent years struggling to become a novelist. I wrote dozens of short stories and abandoned them. I researched articles I wanted to write for newspapers and never wrote them.

There wasn’t any moment when I learned how to finish my work. Instead, I got a job as a journalist writing for a newspaper. There, I had to finish my articles by a deadline because the editor would fire me if I didn’t.

I know this because he called me into his office after I missed a deadline and said so. So I overcame perfectionism. I stopped polishing my articles until they were perfect, and I finished them. On more than one occasion, my editor returned articles to me, saying I’d left out an introductory paragraph or my introduction needed reworking. After listening to his criticism, I wanted to quit.

On other occasions, the sub-editors of the paper reworked my articles. This process felt like a brutal dressing-down, but at least I was getting paid to write.

For help, learn how to beat procrastination in writing .

As an author, your job doesn’t end after submitting a manuscript to a publishing house or uploading the final files to Amazon. Whether you have a traditional book deal, you still need to sell copies via book marketing.

Many publishing houses write off the cost of book deals because they don’t believe a book will sell. Others don’t do a great job of selling a book on behalf of their clients. To avoid this problem, learn the basics of author marketing.

  • Set up an author website
  • Build an email list of engaged readers
  • Run book promotions regularly
  • Send advanced copies of your book to an early readers group for feedback and reviews
  • Study how Amazon ads work and use them

 For help, read our guide to selling self-published books .

Most people spend more time telling their friends they have a great idea for a book. But, they don’t spend much time turning their vision into reality.

No matter what tips on becoming an author you learn, please understand it takes tremendous hard work and mental discipline to write a book.

While releasing the best possible version of your work is smart, you’ll need some self-knowledge to finish it. There will always be a gap between what you want your creative project to be about and what comes out on the blank page.

The best way to narrow that gap and improve the quality of your book is to put in your reps: write more often, finish your work and publish it. You, too, can become an author.

FAQs on How to Become An Author

The average author sells 250-500 copies of their book in the first year. According to the Guardian, they usually won’t earn more than $1000 or earn back their advance due to how book royalties are structured. That said, book sales hit an all-time high in 2021, suggesting people are reading more than ever.

However, successful fiction authors don’t rely on one book to pay the bills. They build a back catalogue of work that sells over time. Many non-fiction authors rely on their books to sell related services like public speaking, consulting or a course.

You don’t need any qualifications to become an author. It’s much like an entrepreneurial career choice; the onus is on the writer to develop their skills, work on a book, and publish and sell it. However, it’s helpful to have a strong command of the English language. Therefore, many authors study English, journalism or a related discipline at the university. 

Newer and mid-tier authors can earn several thousand dollars a year from their books, granted not quit your job money. However, authors can make good money if they have a back catalogue of books, sell related products or services or have built a name for themselves and their work. James Patterson is an example of a top-tier author who is earning upwards of $100 million as part of his last book contract.

Books sell the most copies before the holiday season. As such, it’s usually best to publish before December or Black Friday as book lovers are already in a shopping mood. The summer months are also a popular time for sales and people like buying books they can read on holidays.

So you’re wondering how to become a writer. The short answer is: anyone who writes is a writer. However, becoming a writer who’s serious about their professional career requires lots of work, and if you’re wondering how to become a professional writer, you’re here to start your journey towards a productive and successful literary career.

How do you become a writer? You don’t need a degree to be a writer, nor do you need to be a certain age. Becoming a writer simply requires an admiration for—and a longing to create with—language. So, don’t worry about becoming a writer later in life or lacking a formal education. (That’s what is here for!)

No one can teach you how to admire the written word, but the instructors at are experts at turning longing into language. That’s why this article covers everything you need on how to become a writer. From the personal to the professional, let’s dive into everything writers need to build a successful literary career.

How to Become a Writer: Contents

How to Become a Writer: Anyone Can Become One

It’s never too late to become a writer, how to become a writer: where to begin your writing journey, how to become a professional writer: what “professional” means, how to become a writer: resources for becoming a professional writer, how to become a writer: developing a writing habit.

Even today, there’s a persistent myth that writers are elite, born-with-it Ivory Tower folks who possess some ineffable gift of the Muses. Yes, some great writers were born with greatness (and plenty were born with wealth and privilege), but anyone who calls themselves a writer does so because they labor with the written word.

Becoming a writer simply requires an ardent exploration of language.

In others words, you don’t need an MFA from the University of Iowa to call yourself a writer. Becoming a writer simply requires an ardent exploration of language. If we had to boil a writer down to three requirements, it wouldn’t involve age or degree. The 4 traits for becoming a writer are:

  • Passion for the written word,
  • Desire to expand the boundaries and possibilities of language,
  • Persistence and patience, bordering on stubbornness, and
  • Willingness to grow and learn continuously.

Many writers who have these traits stop themselves from writing, maybe because they’re wondering how to become a writer without a degree, or simply because they don’t believe in themselves without the privilege and connections writers seem to have. Now, writers certainly benefit from a university education or a family legacy in literature, but countless writers have acquired respect and success without a degree or name recognition.

Ernest Hemingway never went to college, but he still won a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize; neither did Maya Angelou attend university, yet she’s celebrated as the “black woman’s poet laureate” and later accepted a professorship with Wake Forest University. Degrees are just paper; it’s words that matter.

Degrees are just paper; it’s words that matter.

Becoming a writer has no age restriction; the act of writing is rated G for the General Public, and those aforementioned traits are found in writers from ages 2 to 99+.

Many writers discover their writing talents in their later years. Why, exactly? Neurology reveals there are two types of intelligence : fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. “Fluid” refers to creative and adaptive thinking, including activities like writing and problem solving. “Crystallized” refers to the solidified body of knowledge people draw from—all the words, definitions, and experiences that build a foundation for the world.

Generally, younger adults have more fluid intelligence, whereas life experience builds one’s crystallized intelligence over time. The two intelligences tend to converge in a person’s 40s, since this is an age where the faculties for fluid intelligence haven’t declined, and crystallized intelligence abounds. Not-so-coincidentally, many writers see their careers flourish in their 40s and 50s!

Many celebrated writers didn’t put pen to paper until middle age or later.

In fact, many celebrated writers didn’t put pen to paper until middle age or later. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t start writing until her 40s, and her Little House series didn’t start printing until she was 65. Likewise, Most of Wallace Stevens’ work was published after he turned 50; despite being a poet, he worked at an insurance company, and most of his coworkers were shocked when he won a Pulitzer at 75. Nobody knew that he wrote!

Finally, many university students return for a writing degree after establishing a career elsewhere. BFA and MFA programs around the world educate students in their 30s and beyond; in 2017, the average age of a low-residency MFA student in the U.S. was 35.4, according to LitHub and AWP .

Whether you’re 19 or 90, you’re never too old to write. The best time to write is yesterday; the second-best time is today.

Rather than an If-Then structure, the writing profession follows a Became-Because structure.

How do you become a writer? Where do you begin? The writing profession is unlike most professions, which follow an If-Then structure. If you get a bachelor’s degree, Then you can work as a nurse, computer scientist, or accountant; If you join a worker’s guild or apprenticeship program, Then you can find work in a number of trade jobs.

The writing profession follows a Became-Because structure. Zora Neale Hurston became a writer because she obtained degrees from Howard University and Barnard College, encouraging her to dissect the African American experience through a literary and anthropological lens.

Conversely, Haruki Murakami became a writer because of a baseball game .

The qualifications for becoming a writer are unique to the individual, and every writer is formed by personal interests and experiences. As a result, no one can tell you where to begin your writing journey; however, if you’re wondering how to become a writer, you’ve already started your journey by thinking about it.

If you’re wondering how to become a writer, you’ve already started your journey by thinking about it.

One distinction to help you think about your writing journey is the difference between amateur and professional writers. If you’re not sure what you want to become, start with the following question: what does “professional” mean?

There are, generally, two classes of writers: amateurs and professionals. Before describing the professional writer, let’s be clear: “amateur” is not derogatory, and professional writers are not “better” than amateurs. Amateur comes from the Latin amator , “lover.” An amateur writer loves the written word just as much, sometimes even more, than the professional; amateurs simply have less pressure, deadlines, and financial dependence on writing. It’s a pastime, not a career.

If you want writing to be a significant portion of your income, then you aspire to being a professional writer.

If you want writing to be a significant portion of your income, then you aspire to being a professional writer. Professional writers have to approach their writing as a business, building a literary audience and keeping a regular writing schedule. Professional writers need to understand the ins and outs of the publishing industry—which they often learn through obtaining a university degree—and it also helps to have formal training in the publishing world and experience operating literary magazines.

How do you start to work toward becoming a professional writer? Below are resources to get you started.

At some point, the professional writer needs to know the ins and outs of writing as a business. This list covers the essentials of how to become a professional writer.

How to make money as a writer

  • Explore freelance writing opportunities (updated weekdays at F.W.G.)
  • 6 writers explain how they make money (NY Mag)
  • Self-publishing versus traditional publishing (Self-Publishing School)
  • Writing to market (Funds For Writers)

Taxes as a self-employed creative

  • Taxes on freelance writing and royalties (TurboTax)
  • Tax tips and unique situations (The Balance Careers)

Resources on publishing

  • Poetry journals
  • Fiction journals
  • Creative nonfiction journals
  • How to get published in a literary journal (Reader’s Digest)
  • Book: What Editors Do by Peter Ginna ($25 at UChicago Press)

Becoming a writer online

  • Basic guide to each social media platform (Kindlepreneur)
  • Building an author’s website (The Write Practice)
  • Free website template for authors (Copyfolio)
  • Running a mailing list (Your Writer Platform)

Things to know before taking writing classes

  • Poetry courses
  • Fiction courses
  • Creative nonfiction courses
  • Why take a writing course?

Additional resources for learning how to become a writer

  • Setting SMART goals
  • Reading like a writer
  • The golden rule: show, don’t tell
  • Overcoming writer’s block
  • Becoming a poet
  • 8 tips on learning how to write
  • Best online creative writing classes

How do professional writers spend their workdays? Perhaps the trickiest part about becoming a writer is establishing a writing habit. For example, Haruki Murakami runs a 10K every morning to support his writing, and Charles Dickens wrote (and slept) facing north to improve his creativity.

Perhaps the trickiest part about becoming a writer is establishing a writing habit.

What works for one person rarely works for another, so experiment with writing habits—and when you find one that works, stick with it.

Generally, you can parse the writing business into 3 separate components:

  • The writing life—putting pen to paper at regular intervals.
  • Scheduled time for “the business of writing”—literary submissions, applying for grants, etc.
  • An active media/marketing presence—blogging, tweeting, emailing, etc.

You’ll want to schedule time for each of these elements in your daily writing habit. Of course, this is easier said than done. Budding writers often overestimate their ability to work: they think they can spend 3 hours writing, 2 hours replying to emails, and 2 hours submitting work to journals. Then they spend the afternoon watching reruns of BBC quiz shows. (Yes! I did do this recently.)

That’s why forging a consistent writing habit is essential—for amateur writers as well as professionals. Writing at the same place at the same time encourages your brain to write every day. And, if you can’t keep yourself focused on writing, try experimenting with different writing rituals. If a 10K helps Murakami write, something equally unique could help you, too.

How to Become a Writer: Take Your Next Step with!

The classes we’ve curated in our upcoming schedule will take your writing life to the next level. Whether learning a new writing style or mastering the business of writing, becoming a writer feels a whole lot simpler with

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Sean Glatch


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Brilliant review Misty

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Yeah. Same thing as with all other fields. Practice, practice, and once again, practice! It’s like a sport, you should always find new ways to practice.

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i am very eager to become a writer be that script know how or fiction. i am a sponge for knowledge so i learn as i work. i treat everyday as a school day. i want to learn every single part of the writing career-be that if the editor drinks tea or coffee and how they like there papers folded. i soak information as i do a task. i love to build the bullet points for a story because everything needs a beginning. if you are baking a cake the eggs and flour are needed before you think about putting anything in the oven. to prepare a cake you need a tray to put it in-before you build a story you need a starting and then ingredients to put in along the way. i really love to build a story from different snippets of things. i have a thirst for many different aspects of life having spent a majority of time in hospitals and then being taken advantage of my my family because of my brain injury. so i know more than most in a lot of different subjects and matters in life, i have lost more than most in life but i am here telling my version of it to the big bright world. 0874762400 is my contact number

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Discovering the path to becoming a writer is both exhilarating and daunting. It requires a blend of passion, persistence, and honing one’s craft. From mastering the art of storytelling to navigating the intricacies of the publishing world, the journey demands dedication and resilience. Embrace every word written, every rejection faced, for they are stepping stones on the road to literary success.

[…] A comprehensive guide covering personal and professional aspects of becoming a writer1. […]

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Last updated on May 02, 2022

How to Become a Writer: 7 Practical Steps

If you’re dreaming of turning your passion for writing into a full-time career, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll go through a series of actionable steps that you can take to start writing professionally. 

Here are 7 steps to help you become a writer:

1. Create a solid writing routine 

How To Become a Writer | A writer is ready get work done

Here are a few tips for establishing a writing habit:

Make writing a priority. If you want to be a professional writer, set non-negotiable writing time in your calendar and arrange your other commitments around it. 

Define your writing goals. Whether it’s a daily number of words or completing a task in a set number of days, goals help break larger projects into manageable chunks — so you’ll be less overwhelmed and more likely to knuckle down and write.

Identify your ideal writing times . Do you tend to get the most done right after waking up in the morning, or during the quiet hours of the evening? Figure out your windows of productivity and capitalize on them.  



How to Build a Solid Writing Routine

In 10 days, learn to change your habits to support your writing.

However, no matter how watertight your writing routines are, every author can benefit from a helping hand to perform at their best and become an even better writer. Thankfully, there are some apps for that.

2. Use writing tools to improve your output 

How To Become a Writer | A writer is writing at her desk

Different tools can impact your output in different ways: for example, online whiteboards like Miro can help you visually sketch out your book’s outline and character bios, and help you define the mood of your world-building. Tools like Grammarly can identify and fix typos and grammatical errors, whereas browser blockers like Cold Turkey can help to minimize distractions and stay productive. 

When it comes to using professional writing software, you could use tools like Reedsy Book Editor to enjoy smooth collaborative editing, keep track of your word count goals, and format your book for distribution. 

Which writing app is right for you?

Find out here! Takes 30 seconds

Finally, workspace tools like ergonomic chairs and standing desks can also largely influence the quality and proficiency of your writing (we also hear that houseplants can boost creativity, but don’t quote us on that).

But, before you get too comfortable in your writing nook surrounded by all your lovely tools, you may want to consider going back to class…

3. Take classes to pick up credentials

How To Become a Writer | A student is taking notes about Creative Writing

  • Journalist — write for newspapers and magazines. Requires top-notch research skills, the ability to be objective, and to meet strict deadlines.
  • Columnist — write for newspapers and magazines. Unlike journalists, columnists offer their subjective opinion and insight on current events.
  • Travel writer —  chronicle your adventures across the globe to give advice and inspiration to other travelers.
  • Copywriter — write marketing copy for brands, companies, or organizations.
  • Technical writer — turn complex jargon into concise information that users of a product or clients of a company can clearly understand.
  • Web content writer — write online blog posts and articles for brands, companies, or organizations.
  • Ghostwriter — write content on behalf of other people or organizations. Learn more about becoming a ghostwriter here!
  • Grant writer — write documents to help organizations seeking grants.

The options are plentiful. But if you think you’ll need academic credentials, let's take a look at your choices in closer detail. 



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You needn't look too hard to find authors who emerged from MFA programs to establish glittering literary careers. For example, both Flannery O’Connor and Rachel Kushner are MFA babies.

Then again, you can find just as many authors who didn’t study anything related to writing and worked in completely unrelated industries before becoming bestsellers  — like Charles Bukowski (a postman), Haruki Murakami (a jazz club manager), and even Harper Lee (an airline ticket clerk). After all, life experience is a key ingredient of any good fiction.

Becoming a novelist doesn’t require any specific credentials beyond the ability to write (and market) a great story. Pursuing an MFA can certainly help you develop your craft, network with established and aspiring writers, or lead you to some creative writing gigs, but it’s not a shortcut to success. In addition, the majority of MFA programs focus on literary fiction, creative nonfiction , and poetry . So if you want to become a fiction writer, an MFA is likely not a necessary stepping stone for you.

Bachelor’s Degree (BA)

While higher education is not a required credential for becoming a novelist , academic qualifications can be more important for nonfiction writers. In many cases, success as a nonfiction author relies upon your subject authority and often necessitates the relevant credentials as proof. That might include a degree or other relevant experience in the field. Imagine yourself picking up a nonfiction book and turning it over to read the author's bio : what kind of credentials would assure you this is someone who knows what they’re talking about?

In terms of journalism, most news outlets will require applicants to have completed a Bachelor’s degree before adding them to the payroll. While majoring in journalism is certainly a sound option, many news outlets require a literature degree or similar, as you’ll have many of the same skills but no biases in your journalistic practices. It's also typical to double-major or major-minor in a combination of journalism and the field you’re interested in writing about.

Doctorate (Ph.D.) 

A Ph.D. in literature or creative writing is often preferred by people who want to teach literature or writing at college or university levels. Overall, a doctorate may also be appropriate if your writing draws extensively from academic research or scientific findings — as it will give you more subject-matter authority. 

Associate Degree

An associate degree typically lasts two years and can be more industry-focused than a BA. If you’re hoping to become a copywriter or web content writer, pursuing an associate degree in media, marketing, or writing might be a good way to lay the foundation for your career.


Certificates are short-term programs that provide foundational education and skills-based training. They typically last a few weeks to a few months, and, as with the associate degree, it’s a good option for aspiring freelance writers .

How to become a writer | List of academic credentials for different jobs

4. Seek opportunities to publish your work

How to become a writer | A writer writes starts writing a story

If you’re an aspiring fiction writer, follow the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin and Ernest Hemingway, and get your foot in the door by submitting your short stories to magazines and contests . Here are a few places where you can do just that:

  • Literary magazines accepting submissions
  • Vetted writing contests and their deadlines
  • Reedsy’s own weekly short story contest
  • Publications accepting short story submissions

To ensure your t’s and i's are all properly crossed and dotted, here is a submissions checklist that’s sure to keep you straight!

Make the process of writing your first novel easier by using a story template like the one below.



Get our Book Development Template

Use this template to go from a vague idea to a solid plan for a first draft.

Nonfiction writers have ample opportunity to get their byline out in the world too. If there’s a particular niche you’re interested in, start by putting together a list of relevant publications. Most websites will have a submission section with guidelines for submitting a piece. 

Follow specific editors on Twitter to keep up with when magazines are accepting pitches. They will usually tweet when their inbox is open (and what they’re looking for in a pitch) — plus many of them are open to questions. If you don't know where to find them, look for names via magazine websites, the publication’s LinkedIn page, or simply use the Twitter search function. Editors of magazines usually tell you who they are in their Twitter bio!

Put your pitches and deadlines in a calendar

Next, get your ‘pitching calendar’ organized by listing the outlets you want to write for, your premise for each pitch, and any deadlines to keep in mind. You might also want to make note of any feedback you receive. For instance, an outlet might let you know that your piece wasn’t right for them “at this time,” or they might clarify what they’re looking for in more specific terms. 

Here are a few resources that connect writers with publications looking for submissions:

  • Authors Publish Newsletter
  • NewPages Classifications
  • Funds for Writers Newsletter

Consider self-publishing

If you have a book idea you can’t stop thinking about and your goal is to see it materialized, then you might want to consider self-publishing. Getting your book out into the world is easier than it’s ever been, and we’ve detailed the whole process in another guide . Plus, you can do it in your own time. 

Though some traditionally published household names nab hundreds of thousands in advances, those are the outliers. Many more self-published authors make a living from their writing than their traditionally published counterparts: this report found that the number of indie authors earning five to six figures per year from book sales was much higher than the number of Big 5 authors earning the same. 

If you’re still on the fence about which publishing route to take, why not take this one-minute quiz to find out for sure which option is the most viable for you?

Is self-publishing or traditional publishing right for you?

Takes one minute!

Once you start to get a few publications under your belt, it’s time to put them together in a nicely bundled portfolio that shows the world (and potential clients) what you’re capable of. 

5. Create a strong portfolio 

How to become a writer | A beautiful author's website

Create a website

To create your own website, you must first register a domain name on services like GoDaddy or Namecheap (e.g., or sign up for a free site with services like WordPress, Wix, or SquareSpace (e.g. 一 although the first option is more professional. If you're not too confident in your tech skills, consider hiring a professional web designer who can help you build a website that stands out.

Use a portfolio site

If you don’t want to spend too much time designing a website, you can always turn to a trusted portfolio site. All you need to do is create an account with them and input your personal information. Here are a few popular options:

  • MuckRack: a popular platform for journalists and PR professionals.
  • Contently: a useful site for content writers.
  • provides a clean-cut design for every kind of writer.

Perfect your website

Your author website should reflect your personality, list your credentials, and most importantly — show your work. 

There are different ways to present your portfolio: you could divide your writing into different niches like Jennifer Fernandez , or you could go for a concise bio that packs a punch in terms of insight into your professional background as in Alice Driver ’s portfolio. For author websites , it’s key to give visitors a clear route to buying any books you’ve published (check Austin Kleon ’s example). 

Once your website is live, it might take a while for word of mouth to spread and for job opportunities to come your way. So, while you get the ball rolling, consider reaching out to organizations that could help you support your dream (read: paying the bills!).

6. Apply for writing grants 

How to become a writer | A writer receives a paycheck

Here’s a reliable list of grants for you to peruse — some will have no stipulations regarding what the money is spent on, and others will be for specific reasons, like traveling to a writers’ retreat or conference. There are also many grants specifically intended to help marginalized communities get a leg up in the industry. Make sure you check out our video guide for some helpful advice on making a successful application.

VfUT695Ca08 Video Thumb

Whether or not your career will benefit from scoring a grant, you’ll soon learn that if you want to reach new literary heights and establish yourself as a writer, you’ll need the help of other professionals in the space.

7. Collaborate with professional editors

How to become a writer | A writer and an editor collaborate successfully

An editor’s bread and butter is to revise your work so that it’s ready for the big stage, from spotting plot holes, improving text quality, and examining your manuscript for inconsistencies before its release. More than that, working with an editor will teach you about the ins and outs of the publishing industry — including the all-important standards and best practices of the literary world. 

Finding a good editor is always a type of collaboration worth investing in if you want to speed up your development and make a leap forward in your journey to become a professional writer.

Hopefully, this post has shown you how to get things going so that you can make writing a financially viable career. To wrap things up, there’s nothing quite as inspiring for budding writers as words of wisdom from those who have achieved writerly acclaim. So tuck into these brilliant books about writing , and then pick up your pen and get going. We look forward to seeing your name in print!

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How to Write a Book From Start to Finish

How to Write a Book From Start to Finish: A Proven Guide

So you want to write a book. Becoming an author can change your life—not to mention give you the ability to impact thousands, even millions, of people.

But writing a book isn’t easy. As a 21-time New York Times bestselling author, I can tell you: It’s far easier to quit than to finish.

You’re going to be tempted to give up writing your book when you run out of ideas, when your own message bores you, when you get distracted, or when you become overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the task.

But what if you knew exactly:

  • Where to start…
  • What each step entails…
  • How to overcome fear, procrastination, a nd writer’s block…
  • And how to keep from feeling overwhelmed?

You can write a book—and more quickly than you might think, because these days you have access to more writing tools than ever. 

The key is to follow a proven, straightforward, step-by-step plan .

My goal here is to offer you that book-writing plan.

I’ve used the techniques I outline below to write more than 200 books (including the Left Behind series) over the past 50 years. Yes, I realize writing over four books per year on average is more than you may have thought humanly possible. 

But trust me—with a reliable blueprint, you can get unstuck and finally write your book .

This is my personal approach on how to write a book. I’m confident you’ll find something here that can change the game for you. So, let’s jump in.

  • How to Write a Book From Start to Finish

Part 1: Before You Begin Writing Your Book

  • Establish your writing space.
  • Assemble your writing tools.

Part 2: How to Start Writing a Book

  • Break the project into small pieces.
  • Settle on your BIG idea.
  • Construct your outline.
  • Set a firm writing schedule.
  • Establish a sacred deadline.
  • Embrace procrastination (really!).
  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Conduct your research.
  • Start calling yourself a writer.

Part 3: The Book-Writing Itself

  • Think reader-first.
  • Find your writing voice.
  • Write a compelling opener.
  • Fill your story with conflict and tension.
  • Turn off your internal editor while writing the first draft.
  • Persevere through The Marathon of the Middle.
  • Write a resounding ending.

Part 4: Editing Your Book

  • Become a ferocious self-editor.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Part 5: Publishing Your Book
  • Decide on your publishing avenue.
  • Properly format your manuscript.
  • Set up and grow your author platform.
  • Pursue a Literary Agent
  • Writing Your Query Letter
  • Part One: Before You Begin Writing Your Book

You’ll never regret—in fact, you’ll thank yourself later—for investing the time necessary to prepare for such a monumental task.

You wouldn’t set out to cut down a huge grove of trees with just an axe. You’d need a chain saw, perhaps more than one. Something to keep them sharp. Enough fuel to keep them running.

You get the picture. Don’t shortcut this foundational part of the process.

Step 1. Establish your writing space.

To write your book, you don’t need a sanctuary. In fact, I started my career o n my couch facing a typewriter perched on a plank of wood suspended by two kitchen chairs.

What were you saying about your setup again? We do what we have to do.

And those early days on that sagging couch were among the most productive of my career.

Naturally, the nicer and more comfortable and private you can make your writing lair (I call mine my cave), the better.

How to Write a Book Image 1

Real writers can write anywhere .

Some authors write their books in restaurants and coffee shops. My first full time job was at a newspaper where 40 of us clacked away on manual typewriters in one big room—no cubicles, no partitions, conversations hollered over the din, most of my colleagues smoking, teletype machines clattering.

Cut your writing teeth in an environment like that, and anywhere else seems glorious.

Step 2. Assemble your writing tools.

In the newspaper business, there was no time to hand write our stuff and then type it for the layout guys. So I have always written at a keyboard and still write my books that way.

Most authors do, though some hand write their first drafts and then keyboard them onto a computer or pay someone to do that.

No publisher I know would even consider a typewritten manuscript, let alone one submitted in handwriting.

The publishing industry runs on Microsoft Word, so you’ll need to submit Word document files. Whether you prefer a Mac or a PC, both will produce the kinds of files you need.

And if you’re looking for a musclebound electronic organizing system, you can’t do better than Scrivener . It works well on both PCs and Macs, and it nicely interacts with Word files.

Just remember, Scrivener has a steep learning curve, so familiarize yourself with it before you start writing.

Scrivener users know that taking the time to learn the basics is well worth it.

Tons of other book-writing tools exist to help you. I’ve included some of the most well-known in my blog po st on here (for software) and here (for writing tools) fo r your reference.

So, what else do you need?

If you are one who handwrites your first drafts, don’t scrimp on paper, pencils, or erasers.

Don’t shortchange yourself on a computer either. Even if someone else is keyboarding for you, you’ll need a computer for research and for communicating with potential agents, edi tors, publishers.

Get the best computer you can afford, the latest, the one with the most capacity and speed.

Try to imagine everything you’re going to need in addition to your desk or table, so you can equip yourself in advance and don’t have to keep interrupting your work to find things like:

  • Paper clips
  • Pencil holders
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Printing paper
  • Paperweight
  • Tape dispensers
  • Cork or bulletin boards
  • Reference works
  • Space heaters
  • Beverage mugs
  • You name it
  • Last, but most crucial, get the best, most ergonomic chair you can afford.

If I were to start my career again with that typewriter on a plank, I would not sit on that couch. I’d grab another straight-backed kitchen chair or something similar and be proactive about my posture and maintaining a healthy spine.

There’s nothing worse than trying to be creative and immerse yourself in writing while you’re in agony . The chair I work in today cost more than my first car!

How to Write a Book Image 2

If you’ve never used some of the items I listed above and can’t imagine needing them, fine. But make a list of everything you know you’ll need so when the actual writing begins, you’re already equipped.

As you grow as a writer and actually start making money at it, you can keep upgrading your writing space.

Where I work now is light years from where I started. But the point is, I didn’t wait to start writing until I could have a great spot in which to do it.

  • Part Two: How to Start Writing a Book

Step 1. Break your book into small pieces.

Writing a book feels like a colossal project, because it is! Bu t your manuscript w ill be made up of many small parts .

An old adage says that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time .

Try to get your mind off your book as a 400-or-so-page monstrosity.

It can’t be written all at once any more than that proverbial elephant could be eaten in a single sitting.

See your book for what it is: a manuscript made up of sentences, paragraphs, pages. Those pages will begin to add up, and though after a week you may have barely accumulated double digits, a few months down the road you’ll be into your second hundred pages.

So keep it simple.

Start by distilling you r big book idea from a page or so to a single sentence— your premise . The more specific that one-sentence premise, the more it will keep you focused while you’re writing.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before you can turn your big idea into one sentence, which can then b e expanded to an outline, you have to settle on exactly what that big idea is.

Step 2. Settle on your BIG idea.

To be book-worthy, your idea has to be killer.

You need to write something about which you’re passionate , something that gets you up in the morning, draws you to the keyboard, and keeps you there. It should excite not only you, but also anyone you tell about it.

I can’t overstate the importance of this.

If you’ve tried and failed to finish your book before—maybe more than once—it could be that the basic premise was flawed. Maybe it was worth a blog post or an article but couldn’t carry an entire book.

Think The Hunger Games , Harry Potter , or How to Win Friends and Influence People . The market is crowded, the competition fierce. There’s no more room for run-of-the-mill ideas. Your premise alone should make readers salivate.

Go for the big concept book.

How do you know you’ve got a winner? Does it have legs? In other words, does it stay in your mind, growing and developing every time you think of it?

Run it past loved ones and others you trust.

Does it raise eyebrows? Elicit Wows? Or does it result in awkward silences?

The right concept simply works, and you’ll know it when you land on it. Most importantly, your idea must capture you in such a way that you’re compelled to write it . Otherwise you will lose interest halfway through and never finish.

Step 3. Construct your outline.

Writing your book without a clear vision of where you’re going usually ends in disaster.

Even if you ’re writing a fiction book an d consider yourself a Pantser* as opposed to an Outliner , you need at least a basic structure.

[*Those of us who write by the seat of our pants and, as Stephen King advises, pu t interesting characters i n difficult situations and write to find out what happens]

You don’t have to call it an outline if that offends your sensibilities. But fashion some sort of a directional document that provides structure for your book and also serves as a safety net.

If you get out on that Pantser highwire and lose your balance, you’ll thank me for advising you to have this in place.

Now if you’re writing a nonfiction book, there’s no substitute for an outline .

Potential agents or publishers require this in your proposal. T hey want to know where you’re going, and they want to know that you know. What do you want your reader to learn from your book, and how will you ensure they learn it?

Fiction or nonfiction, if you commonly lose interest in your book somewhere in what I call the Marathon of the Middle, you likely didn’t start with enough exciting ideas .

That’s why and outline (or a basic framework) is essential. Don’t even start writing until you’re confident your structure will hold up through the end.

You may recognize this novel structure illustration.

Did you know it holds up—with only slight adaptations—for nonfiction books too ? It’s self-explanatory for novelists; they list their plot twists and developments and arrange them in an order that best serves to increase tension .

What separates great nonfiction from mediocre? The same structure!

Arrange your points and evidence in the same way so you’re setting your reader up for a huge payoff, and then make sure you deliver.

If your nonfiction book is a memoir ( more scene based ), an autobiography ( more fact-based ), or a biography, structure it like a novel and you can’t go wrong.

But even if it’s a straightforward how-to book, stay as close to this structure as possible, and you’ll see your manuscript come alive.

Make promises early, triggering your reader to anticipate fresh ideas, secrets, inside information, something major that will make him thrilled with the finished product.

How to write a book - graph

While a nonfiction book may not have as much action or dialogue or character development as a novel, you can inject tension by showing where people have failed before and how your reader can succeed.

You can even make the how-to project look impossible until you pay off that setup with your unique solution.

Keep your outline to a single page for now. But make sure every major point is represented, so you’ll always know where you’re going.

And don’t worry if you’ve forgotten the basics of classic outlining or have never felt comfortable with the concept.

Your outline must serve you. If that means Roman numerals and capital and lowercase letters and then Arabic numerals, you can certainly fashion it that way. But if you just want a list of sentences that synopsize your idea, that’s fine too.

Simply start with your working title, then your premise, then—for fiction, list all the major scenes that fit into the rough structure above.

For nonfiction, try to come up with chapter titles and a sentence or two of what each chapter will cover.

Once you have your one-page outline, remember it is a fluid document meant to serve you and your book. Expand it, change it, play with it as you see fit—even during the writing process .

Step 4. Set a firm writing schedule.

Ideally, you want to schedule at least six hours per week to write your book.

That may consist of three sessions of two hours each, two sessions of three hours, or six one-hour sessions—whatever works for you.

I recommend a regular pattern (same times, same days) that can most easily become a habit. But if that’s impossible, just make sure you carve out at least six hours so you can see real progress.

Having trouble finding the time to write a book? News flash—you won’t find the time. You have to make it.

I used the phrase carve out above for a reason. That’s what it takes.

Something in your calendar will likely have to be sacrificed in the interest of writing time . 

Make sure it’s not your family—they should always be your top priority. Never sacrifice your family on the altar of your writing career.

But beyond that, the truth is that we all find time for what we really want to do.

Many writers insist they have no time to write, but they always seem to catch the latest Netflix original series, or go to the next big Hollywood feature. They enjoy concerts, parties, ball games, whatever.

How important is it to you to finally write your book? What will you cut from your calendar each week to ensure you give it the time it deserves?

  • A favorite TV show?
  • An hour of sleep per night? (Be careful with this one; rest is crucial to a writer.)

Successful writers make time to write.

When writing becomes a habit, you’ll be on your way.

Step 5. Establish a sacred deadline.

Without deadlines, I rarely get anything done. I need that motivation.

Admittedly, my deadlines are now established in my contracts from publishers.

If you’re writing your first book, you probably don’t have a contract yet. To ensure you finish your book, set your own deadline—then consider it sacred .

Tell your spouse or loved one or trusted friend. Ask that they hold you accountable.

Now determine—and enter in your calendar—the number of pages you need to produce per writing session to meet your deadline. If it proves unrealistic, change the deadline now.

If you have no idea how many pages or words you typically produce per session, you may have to experiment before you finalize those figures.

Say you want to finish a 400-page manuscript by this time next year.

Divide 400 by 50 weeks (accounting for two off-weeks), and you get eight pages per week. 

Divide that by your typical number of writing sessions per week and you’ll know how many pages you should finish per session.

Now is the time to adjust these numbers, while setting your deadline and determining your pages per session.

Maybe you’d rather schedule four off weeks over the next year. Or you know your book will be unusually long.

Change the numbers to make it realistic and doable, and then lock it in. Remember, your deadline is sacred.

Step 6. Embrace procrastination (really!).

You read that right. Don’t fight it; embrace it.

You wouldn’t guess it from my 200+ published books, but I’m the king of procrastinators .

Don’t be. So many authors are procrastinators that I’ve come to wonder if it’s a prerequisite.

The secret is to accept it and, in fact, schedule it.

I quit fretting and losing sleep over procrastinating when I realized it was inevitable and predictable, and also that it was productive.

Sound like rationalization?

Maybe it was at first. But I learned that while I’m putting off the writing, my subconscious is working on my book. It’s a part of the process. When you do start writing again, you’ll enjoy the surprises your subconscious reveals to you.

So, knowing procrastination is coming, book it on your calendar .

Take it into account when you’re determining your page quotas. If you have to go back in and increase the number of pages you need to produce per session, do that (I still do it all the time).

But—and here’s the key—you must never let things get to where that number of pages per day exceeds your capacity.

It’s one thing to ratchet up your output from two pages per session to three. But if you let it get out of hand, you’ve violated the sacredness of your deadline.

How can I procrastinate and still meet more than 190 deadlines?

Because I keep the deadlines sacred.

Step 7. Eliminate distractions to stay focused.

Are you as easily distracted as I am?

Have you found yourself writing a sentence and then checking your email? Writing another and checking Facebook? Getting caught up in the pictures of 10 Sea Monsters You Wouldn’t Believe Actually Exist?

Then you just have to check out that precious video from a talk show where the dad surprises the family by returning from the war.

That leads to more and more of the same. Once I’m in, my writing is forgotten, and all of a sudden the day has gotten away from me.

The answer to these insidious timewasters?

Look into these apps that allow you to block your email, social media, browsers, game apps, whatever you wish during the hours you want to write. Some carry a modest fee, others are free.

  • Freedom app
  • FocusWriter

Step 8. Conduct your research.

Yes, research is a vital part of the process , whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction.

Fiction means more than just making up a story.

Your details and logic and technical and historical details must be right for your novel to be believable.

And for nonfiction, even if you’re writing about a subject in which you’re an expert—as I’m doing here—getting all the facts right will polish your finished product.

In fact, you’d be surprised at how many times I’ve researched a fact or two while writing this blog post alone.

The importance of research when writing

The last thing you want is even a small mistake due to your lack of proper research.

Regardless the detail, trust me, you’ll hear from readers about it.

Your credibility as an author and an expert hinges on creating trust with your reader . That dissolves in a hurry if you commit an error.

My favorite research resources:

  • World Almanacs : These alone list almost everything you need for accurate prose: facts, data, government information, and more. For my novels, I often use these to come up with ethnically accurate character names.
  • The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus : The online version is great, because it’s lightning fast. You couldn’t turn the pages of a hard copy as quickly as you can get where you want to onscreen. One caution: Never let it be obvious you’ve consulted a thesaurus. You’re not looking for the exotic word that jumps off the page. You’re looking for that common word that’s on the tip of your tongue.
  • : Here you’ll find nearly limitless information about any continent, country, region, city, town, or village. Names, monetary units, weather patterns, tourism info, and even facts you wouldn’t have thought to search for. I get ideas when I’m digging here, for both my novels and my nonfiction books.

Step 9. Start calling yourself a writer.

Your inner voice may tell you, “You’re no writer and you never will be. Who do you think you are, trying to write a book?”

That may be why you’ve stalled at writing your book in the past .

But if you’re working at writing, studying writing, practicing writing, that makes you a writer. Don’t wait till you reach some artificial level of accomplishment before calling yourself a writer.

A cop in uniform and on duty is a cop whether he’s actively enforced the law yet or not. A carpenter is a carpenter whether he’s ever built a house.

Self-identify as a writer now and you’ll silence that inner critic —who, of course, is really you. 

Talk back to yourself if you must. It may sound silly, but acknowledging yourself as a writer can give you the confidence to keep going and finish your book.

Are you a writer? Say so.

  • Part Three: The Book-Writing Itself

Step 1. Think reader-first.

This is so important that that you should write it on a sticky note and affix it to your monitor so you’re reminded of it every time you write.

Every decision you make about your manuscript must be run through this filter.

Not you-first, not book-first, not editor-, agent-, or publisher-first. Certainly not your inner circle- or critics-first.

Reader-first, last, and always .

If every decision is based on the idea of reader-first, all those others benefit anyway.

When fans tell me they were moved by one of my books, I think back to this adage and am grateful I maintained that posture during the writing.

Does a scene bore you? If you’re thinking reader-first, it gets overhauled or deleted.

Where to go, what to say, what to write next? Decide based on the reader as your priority.

Whatever your gut tells you your reader would prefer, that’s your answer.

Whatever will intrigue him, move him, keep him reading, those are your marching orders.

So, naturally, you need to know your reader. Rough age? General interests? Loves? Hates? Attention span?

When in doubt, look in the mirror . 

The surest way to please your reader is to please yourself. Write what you would want to read and trust there is a broad readership out there that agrees.

Step 2. Find your writing voice.

Discovering your voice is nowhere near as complicated as some make it out to be.

You can find yours by answering these quick questions :

  • What’s the coolest thing that ever happened to you?
  • Who’s the most important person you told about it?
  • What did you sound like when you did?
  • That’s your writing voice. It should read the way you sound at your most engaged.

That’s all there is to it.

If you write fiction and the narrator of your book isn’t you, go through the three-question exercise on the narrator’s behalf—and you’ll quickly master the voice.

Here’s a blog I posted that’ll walk you through the process .

Step 3. Write a compelling opener.

If you’re stuck because of the pressure of crafting the perfect opening line for your book, you’re not alone.

And neither is your angst misplaced.

This is not something you should put off and come back to once you’ve started on the rest of the first chapter.

How to Write a Book Image 5

Oh, it can still change if the story dictates that. But settling on a good one will really get you off and running.

It’s unlikely you’ll write a more important sentence than your first one , whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. Make sure you’re thrilled with it and then watch how your confidence—and momentum—soars.

Most great first lines fall into one of these categories:

1. Surprising

Fiction : “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” —George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nonfiction : “By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American Man

2. Dramatic Statement

Fiction : “They shoot the white girl first.” —Toni Morrison, Paradise

Nonfiction : “I was five years old the first time I ever set foot in prison.” —Jimmy Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand

3. Philosophical

Fiction : “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Nonfiction : “It’s not about you.” —Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

Fiction : “When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. —James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

Nonfiction : “The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.’” —Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

Great opening lines from other classics may give you ideas for yours. Here’s a list of famous openers .

Step 4. Fill your story with conflict and tension.

Your reader craves conflict, and yes, this applies to nonfiction readers as well.

In a novel, if everything is going well and everyone is agreeing, your reader will soon lose interest and find something else to do.

Are two of your characters talking at the dinner table? Have one say something that makes the other storm out.

Some deep-seeded rift in their relationship has surfaced—just a misunderstanding, or an injustice?

Thrust people into conflict with each other . 

That’ll keep your reader’s attention.

Certain nonfiction genres won’t lend themselves to that kind of conflict, of course, but you can still inject tension by setting up your reader for a payoff in later chapters. Check out some of the current bestselling nonfiction works to see how writers accomplish this.

Somehow they keep you turning those pages, even in a simple how-to title.

Tension is the secret sauce that will propel your reader through to the end . 

And sometimes that’s as simple as implying something to come.

Step 5. Turn off your internal editor while writing the first draft.

Many of us perfectionists find it hard to write a first draft—fiction or nonfiction—without feeling compelled to make every sentence exactly the way we want it.

That voice in your head that questions every word, every phrase, every sentence, and makes you worry you’re being redundant or have allowed cliches to creep in—well, that’s just your editor alter ego.

He or she needs to be told to shut up .

Turning off your inner self-editor

This is not easy.

Deep as I am into a long career, I still have to remind myself of this every writing day. I cannot be both creator and editor at the same time. That slows me to a crawl, and my first draft of even one brief chapter could take days.

Our job when writing that first draft is to get down the story or the message or the teaching—depending on your genre.

It helps me to view that rough draft as a slab of meat I will carve tomorrow .

I can’t both produce that hunk and trim it at the same time.

A cliche, a redundancy, a hackneyed phrase comes tumbling out of my keyboard, and I start wondering whether I’ve forgotten to engage the reader’s senses or aimed for his emotions.

That’s when I have to chastise myself and say, “No! Don’t worry about that now! First thing tomorrow you get to tear this thing up and put it back together again to your heart’s content!”

Imagine yourself wearing different hats for different tasks , if that helps—whatever works to keep you rolling on that rough draft. You don’t need to show it to your worst enemy or even your dearest love. This chore is about creating. Don’t let anything slow you down.

Some like to write their entire first draft before attacking the revision. As I say, whatever works.

Doing it that way would make me worry I’ve missed something major early that will cause a complete rewrite when I discover it months later. I alternate creating and revising.

The first thing I do every morning is a heavy edit and rewrite of whatever I wrote the day before. If that’s ten pages, so be it. I put my perfectionist hat on and grab my paring knife and trim that slab of meat until I’m happy with every word.

Then I switch hats, tell Perfectionist Me to take the rest of the day off, and I start producing rough pages again.

So, for me, when I’ve finished the entire first draft, it’s actually a second draft because I have already revised and polished it in chunks every day.

THEN I go back through the entire manuscript one more time, scouring it for anything I missed or omitted, being sure to engage the reader’s senses and heart, and making sure the whole thing holds together.

I do not submit anything I’m not entirely thrilled with .

I know there’s still an editing process it will go through at the publisher, but my goal is to make my manuscript the absolute best I can before they see it.

Compartmentalize your writing vs. your revising and you’ll find that frees you to create much more quickly.

Step 6. Persevere through The Marathon of the Middle.

Most who fail at writing a book tell me they give up somewhere in what I like to call The Marathon of the Middle.

That’s a particularly rough stretch for novelists who have a great concept, a stunning opener, and they can’t wait to get to the dramatic ending. But they bail when they realize they don’t have enough cool stuff to fill the middle.

They start padding, trying to add scenes just for the sake of bulk, but they’re soon bored and know readers will be too.

This actually happens to nonfiction writers too.

The solution there is in the outlining stage , being sure your middle points and chapters are every bit as valuable and magnetic as the first and last.

If you strategize the progression of your points or steps in a process—depending on nonfiction genre—you should be able to eliminate the strain in the middle chapters.

For novelists, know that every book becomes a challenge a few chapters in. The shine wears off, keeping the pace and tension gets harder, and it’s easy to run out of steam.

But that’s not the time to quit. Force yourself back to your structure, come up with a subplot if necessary, but do whatever you need to so your reader stays engaged.

Fiction writer or nonfiction author, The Marathon of the Middle is when you must remember why you started this journey in the first place.

It isn’t just that you want to be an author. You have something to say. You want to reach the masses with your message.

Yes, it’s hard. It still is for me—every time. But don’t panic or do anything rash, like surrendering. Embrace the challenge of the middle as part of the process. If it were easy, anyone could do it.

Step 7. Write a resounding ending.

This is just as important for your nonfiction book as your novel. It may not be as dramatic or emotional, but it could be—especially if you’re writing a memoir.

But even a how-to or self-help book needs to close with a resounding thud, the way a Broadway theater curtain meets the floor .

How do you ensure your ending doesn’t fizzle ?

  • Don’t rush it . Give readers the payoff they’ve been promised. They’ve invested in you and your book the whole way. Take the time to make it satisfying.
  • Never settle for close enough just because you’re eager to be finished. Wait till you’re thrilled with every word, and keep revising until you are.
  • If it’s unpredictable, it had better be fair and logical so your reader doesn’t feel cheated. You want him to be delighted with the surprise, not tricked.
  • If you have multiple ideas for how your book should end, go for the heart rather than the head, even in nonfiction. Readers most remember what moves them.
  • Part Four: Rewriting Your Book

Step 1. Become a ferocious self-editor.

Agents and editors can tell within the first two pages whether your manuscript is worthy of consideration. That sounds unfair, and maybe it is. But it’s also reality, so we writers need to face it.

How can they often decide that quickly on something you’ve devoted months, maybe years, to?

Because they can almost immediately envision how much editing would be required to make those first couple of pages publishable. If they decide the investment wouldn’t make economic sense for a 300-400-page manuscript, end of story.

Your best bet to keep an agent or editor reading your manuscript?

You must become a ferocious self-editor. That means:

  • Omit needless words
  • Choose the simple word over one that requires a dictionary
  • Avoid subtle redundancies , like “He thought in his mind…” (Where else would someone think?)
  • Avoid hedging verbs like almost frowned, sort of jumped, etc.
  • Generally remove the word that —use it only when absolutely necessary for clarity
  • Give the reader credit and resist the urge to explain , as in, “She walked through the open door.” (Did we need to be told it was open?)
  • Avoid too much stage direction (what every character is doing with every limb and digit)
  • Avoid excessive adjectives
  • S how, don’t tell
  • And many more

For my full list and how to use them, click here . (It’s free.)

When do you know you’re finished revising? When you’ve gone from making your writing better to merely making it different. That’s not always easy to determine, but it’s what makes you an author. 

Step 2. Find a mentor.

Get help from someone who’s been where you want to be.

Imagine engaging a mentor who can help you sidestep all the amateur pitfalls and shave years of painful trial-and-error off your learning curve.

Just make sure it’s someone who really knows the writing and publishing world. Many masquerade as mentors and coaches but have never really succeeded themselves.

Look for someone widely-published who knows how to work with agents, editors, and publishers .

There are many helpful mentors online . I teach writers through this free site, as well as in my members-only Writers Guild .

Step 1. Decide on your publishing avenue.

In simple terms, you have two options when it comes to publishing your book:

1. Traditional publishing

Traditional publishers take all the risks. They pay for everything from editing, proofreading, typesetting, printing, binding, cover art and design, promotion, advertising, warehousing, shipping, billing, and paying author royalties.

2. Self-publishing

Everything is on you. You are the publisher, the financier, the decision-maker. Everything listed above falls to you. You decide who does it, you approve or reject it, and you pay for it. The term self-publishing is a bit of a misnomer, however, because what you’re paying for is not publishing, but printing. 

Both avenues are great options under certain circumstances. 

Not sure which direction you want to take? Click here to read my in-depth guide to publishing a book. It’ll show you the pros and cons of each, what each involves, and my ultimate recommendation.

Step 2: Properly format your manuscript.

Regardless whether you traditionally or self-publish your book, proper formatting is critical.

Because poor formatting makes you look like an amateur .

Readers and agents expect a certain format for book manuscripts, and if you don’t follow their guidelines, you set yourself up for failure.

Best practices when formatting your book:

  • Use 12-point type
  • Use a serif font; the most common is Times Roman
  • Double space your manuscript
  • No extra space between paragraphs
  • Only one space between sentences
  • Indent each paragraph half an inch (setting a tab, not using several spaces)
  • Text should be flush left and ragged right, not justified
  • If you choose to add a line between paragraphs to indicate a change of location or passage of time, center a typographical dingbat (like ***) on the line
  • Black text on a white background only
  • One-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides (the default in Word)
  • Create a header with the title followed by your last name and the page number. The header should appear on each page other than the title page.

If you need help implementing these formatting guidelines, click here to read my in-depth post on formatting your manuscript.

Step 3. Set up your author website and grow your platform.

All serious authors need a website. Period.

Because here’s the reality of publishing today…

You need an audience to succeed.

If you want to traditionally publish, agents and publishers will Google your name to see if you have a website and a following.

If you want to self-publish, you need a fan base.

And your author website serves as a hub for your writing, where agents, publishers, readers, and fans can learn about your work.

Don’t have an author website yet? Click here to read my tutorial on setting this up.

Step 4. Pursue a Literary Agent.

There remain a few traditional publishers (those who pay you and take the entire financial risk of publishing your book rather than the other way around) who accept unsolicited submissions, but I do NOT recommend going that route. 

Your submission will likely wind up in what is known in the business as the slush pile. That means some junior staff member will be assigned to get to it when convenient and determine whether to reject it out of hand (which includes the vast majority of the submissions they see) or suggest the publisher’s editorial board consider it.

While I am clearly on record urging you to exhaust all your efforts to traditionally publish before resorting to self-publishing (in other words, paying to be printed), as I say, I do not recommend submitting unsolicited material even to those publishers who say they accept such efforts.

Even I don’t try to navigate the publishing world by myself, despite having been an author, an editor, a publisher, and a writing coach over the last 50 years.

That’s why I have an agent and you need one too.

Many beginning writers naturally wonder why they should share any of their potential income with an agent (traditionally 15%). First, they don’t see any of that income unless you’re getting your 85% at the same time. And second, everyone I know in the business is happy to have someone in their corner, making an agent a real bargain.

I don’t want to have to personally represent myself and my work. I want to stay in my creative lane and let a professional negotiate every clause of the contract and win me the best advance and rights deal possible.

Once under contract, I work directly with the publishing house’s editor and proofreader, but I leave the financial business to my agent.

Ultimately, an agent’s job is to protect your rights and make you money. They profit only when you do.

That said, landing an agent can be as difficult and painstaking as landing a publisher. They know the market, they know the editors, they know what publishers want, and they can advise you how to put your best foot forward.

But how do you know who to trust? Credible, trustworthy agents welcome scrutiny. If you read a book in your genre that you like, check the Acknowledgments page for the agent’s name. If the author thinks enough of that person to mention them glowingly, that’s a great endorsement.

If you’re writing in the inspirational market, peruse agents listed in The Christian Writer’s Market Guide . If you’re writing for the general market, try The Writer’s Market . If you know any published authors, ask about their agents.

The guides that list agents also include what they’re looking for, what they specialize in, and sometimes even what they’re not interested in. Study these to determine potential agents who ply their trade in your genre. Visit their websites for their submission guidelines, and follow these to a T.

They may ask for a query letter, a synopsis, a proposal, or even sample chapters. Be sure not to send more or less than they suggest. 

The best, and most logical place to start is by sending them a query letter. Query simply means question, and in essence the question your letter asks is whether you may send them more.

Step 5: Writing Your Query Letter.

It’s time to move from author to salesperson.

Your query letter will determine whether a literary agent asks to see more, sends you a cordial form letter to let you down easy, or simply doesn’t respond.

Sadly, many agents stipulate on their websites that if you hear nothing after a certain number of weeks, you should take that as an indication that they’re not interested. Frankly, to me, this is frustrating to the writer and lazy on the part of the agent. Surely, in this technological age, it should be easy to hit one button and send a note to someone who might otherwise wonder if the query reached the agent at all.

But that’s the reality we deal with.

So, the job of your one-page single-spaced email letter is to win a response—best case scenario: an invitation to send more: a proposal or even the manuscript. 

Basically, you’re selling yourself and your work. Write a poor query letter and an agent will assume your book is also poorly written.

Without being gimmicky or cute, your letter must intrigue an agent. 

Your query letter should:

  • Be addressed to a specific person (not to the staff of the agency or “To Whom It May Concern”)*
  • Present your book idea simply
  • Evidence your style
  • Show you know who your readers are
  • Clarify your qualifications
  • Exhibit flexibility and professionalism

*If you see a list of agents in a firm, choose one from the middle or bottom of the list. It could be that they get less personal mail than the person whose name is on the door. Who knows? That you single them out may make them see your query in a more favorable light.

For some great advice on writing a query letter, check this out:  

  • You Have What It Takes to Write a Book

Writing a book is a herculean task, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

You can do this .

Take it one step at a time and vow to stay focused. And who knows, maybe by this time next year you’ll be holding a published copy of your book. :)

I’ve created an exclusive writing guide called How to Maximize Your Writing Time that will help you stay on track and finish writing your book.

Get your FREE copy by clicking the button below.

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How to Become a Fiction Writer in 6 Steps

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So you want to know how to become a fiction writer. Who hasn’t thought to themselves at some point in their life: “I’d love to write a novel someday?” Okay maybe not everyone has, but there are definitely a lot, and those people who haven’t are maybe a little bit sad.

The difference, of course, between a wannabe novelist and an actual novelist is the latter actually writes a book. I know that might hurt to hear, but it’s the cold hard truth.

But how do you actually become a writer? Are there steps you can take? Is it easy? The answers are: it depends, kind of, and definitely not. If you’re thinking this process is going to be simple, then please go ahead and click out of this article. (Actually don’t. Scroll a bit and click a few things so my boss doesn’t get mad. Thanks.)

Okay, that’s enough rambling from me.

In this article we’ll go over some steps on how you can embrace your writer dreams. As with anything, there are no right or wrong ways to do this—you need to find what works best for you. However, these six steps can help you get started.

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How to become a fiction writer step 1: To be a writer, you need to be a reader

There are few absolutes when it comes to publishing and writing, but this one is pretty universal. If you’re interested in writing, you’re probably already an avid reader, and that’s good. You’re already ahead of the game then.

There are people who claim they don’t read books and yet they want to write them. I guess that’s fine if it works for them. But reading books is about more than just writing them, it’s about supporting a community. It’s about embracing the works of those who write in your genre and taking in the thoughts and ideas and perspectives of others, rather than being confined solely to your own. It’s about forming a picture that is far bigger and grander than just what’s happening inside your head.

(I’ll go out on a limb and say that anyone who doesn’t read books is going to have a tough time being a great writer. I’m sure there are a few exceptions out there but, for the most part, this will be an uphill battle for you if you aren’t a reader.)

Read books in your chosen genre

Read books in your chosen genre. Consider them with a critical eye. Think about things like:

  • Why are their openings compelling and how do they draw you in?
  • What kind of word choices do they make? How about the metaphors? 
  • Can you recognize the overall structure? 
  • How do they end? 
  • How do they set up plot twists? 
  • How do they end and start each chapter ? 
  • What keeps you reading? 
  • What draws you into their characters? 
  • What tropes do they use?

And so on and so on. You might want to write these things down or let yourself absorb them. But reading good books makes it easier to write good books. Nothing gets me more fired up to write than reading an amazing book in my genre.

how to become a fiction writer

How to become a fiction writer step 2: Choose your genre

This is a double-edged sword. Some people will tell you not to worry about this and just write your story. And that’s absolutely fine if that’s what you want to do. If your goal is to just get it out of your head and on paper (or the screen), then do it.

However, if you ever plan to publish that story (and actually sell it to people) whether you do it via traditional means or self-publishing, you’re going to need to understand where it falls on the bookshelf. To add to this, you should also understand who your ideal reader is. Can you compare your book to some popular books that are currently selling? This isn’t about copying or writing something someone else has written, this is about how you plan to position your book in the marketplace. If readers love XYZ author, then they might like your books too.

Writing to market

If you plan to self-publish, there is an entire concept aligned around the idea of ‘writing to market,’ which means writing books that indie books lover want. When it comes time to market your brilliant book, and you haven’t defined your genre, it’s going to be that much harder to attract your ideal reader.

The most obvious choice is to write in a genre you enjoy reading, however some people choose genres based on their profitability instead. Personally, I could never be excited about writing a book that I’m not passionate about, but everyone functions differently. Do you, boo. (However, if this is your first book, I’d consider sticking to writing something you love—because you are about to become intimately acquainted with it.)

how to become a fiction writer

How to become a fiction writer step 3: Write the book you want to read

Toni Morrison is famous for the line, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” This is something you might want to consider. Think about what I said above—you can still make your book specific to a genre, but maybe there’s something within that genre you’re craving to see.

This is where writing something you love will serve you. If you’re passionate about the story, you’re more likely to stick with it. Also, if you want to get it publication-ready, you’re going to read it about 45,784 times. So you better really, really like it.

how to become a fiction writer

How to become a fiction writer step 4: Remember that writing a book is hard

Ooh, I assume that wasn’t what you wanted to hear. Sorry, we don’t sugar coat around here. Writing a book from start to finish is hours and hours of work (and probably some blood, sweat, and tears. Definitely tears.) And writing that first draft is truly only 10% of the work. After that comes the revising and editing and the feedback and then the querying and the marketing and… the list goes on and on.

Get out that first draft

But you can’t get to any of those things if you never actually finish. So here are a few tips to help you bang out that first draft:

  • Try to be consistent. You don’t have to write every single day, but try to do it most days. Like anything, practice makes things easier. If you do end up taking a longer break, don’t beat yourself up. Just try and get back to it and put the past behind you. It’s okay—there is no race and timeclock to beat. 
  • Set a word or time goal for yourself. These can be small daily goals or larger monthly goals. Be realistic about what you can actually accomplish. A good place to start is 500 words a day. See how that feels for you and adjust accordingly. 
  • Set up a dedicated writing space. If you can, a workspace just for your writing can really help. Keep clutter to a minimum and use visual cues to signal when it’s time to write. Personally, I make myself a cup of tea, which puts me into writing mode. 
  • Keep editing to a minimum . It can be tempting to go back and rewrite and edit what you’ve written the day before. And while that can work for some people, it traps a lot more people in an endless loop where they never make it past Chapter 10 and lose all their steam. If this is your first book, I urge you to press forward. It doesn’t matter if your first draft is messier than a kindergarten finger painting. No one but you ever has to see it and that’s what the editing and revising phase is for. There is nothing that can’t be fixed in a messy first draft.
  • ‍ Understand you will have to edit. Once you do get that first draft done, do not make the mistake of thinking you’re actually done. All writing needs editing no matter how many books you’ve written. Your first draft is just the beginning, but understanding that can help make the entire process seem less daunting.

The good thing is now you know it’s hard and when it feels that way, that’s totally natural. Hopefully these things can make it a little less difficult. Hopefully.

how to become a fiction writer

How to become a fiction writer step 5: Figure what type of writer you are

There are many ways to write a book and generally, there aren’t any wrong ones. You might have heard the terms plotter or pantser . Basically, a plotter is someone who maps out every aspect of their world, characters, plot, and story before writing. A pantser, on the other hand, is someone who sits down and starts typing, thereby going by the literal "seat of their pants."

The truth is, most people fall somewhere on the spectrum in between, but you might tend towards one end or the other. Personally, I am a pantser. For me, the story just doesn’t flow until I sit down and start actually writing. It means my first drafts tend to come in under word count, are pretty messy, and have a lot of plot holes to go back and fill. That may sound chaotic, but after writing eight books, it’s what works for me.

Plotters might have neater first drafts because they’ve spent the time up front building all those things I like to discover along the way (you’ll sometimes hear pantsers referred to as ‘discovery writers’ as well).

So either way, you’ll be plotting eventually—it just depends on whether it’s before that first draft or after. Neither one is right or wrong. The correct one is the one that gets your book written.

Before you start writing

Some things you might want to consider before your start writing are:

Story structure : There are numerous kinds of story structures you can follow to help plot your novels. Whether you use one religiously, loosely, or not at all is up to you. But it’s worth reading about the different kinds regardless of what type of writer you are. Here are some popular ones to look at:

  • The seven basic plot points
  • Three-act structure
  • Save the Cat
  • The hero’s journey
  • The Snowflake Method

Characters : Some people like to fully develop their characters before they start writing. Here are some ways to help develop your characters:

  • Make use of common character archetypes
  • Explore the different types of character arc
  • How to write compelling characters from the inside
  • Think about your character goals and motivations
  • What are your character’s flaws ?
  • Ask yourself some questions about your characters and how they’d behave in certain situations 

Those are some ideas to get you started and, if all else fails, we’ve also got this handy resource on how to plan a novel you can look at.

how to become a fiction writer

How to become a fiction writer step 6: Find other writers to commiserate with

I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a writing community, whether that’s in person or online. While writing can seem like a solitary endeavor, ask almost any successful writer and they’ll tell you they couldn’t have done it without support along the way.

Why do you need writing friends?

  • Motivation : When you’re surrounded by other people also ‘doing the thing,’ it motivates you to do it, too. Few things are more powerful for your future writing career than a group of like-minded people working towards a similar goal. 
  • Commiseration : Writing is hard, remember? And no one understands that better than other writers. Whether it’s that block you can’t seem to get past or that 134th rejection letter you received that week, you need people to share your lows with. 
  • Celebration : On the flipside, no one understands better than another writer how big a deal it is when you finish that manuscript, land that agent, sell that book, or surmount any of the other successes writers can achieve. You also need someone to share the highs with. 
  • Ideation : Sometimes you're stuck on a plot point or have written yourself into a corner. Having people you can bounce ideas off can be invaluable to your work. 
  • ‍ Feedback : You can’t be a writer without some feedback. You can’t. You are too close to the work to see what might not make sense, what might be boring, or what just isn’t working. Writing friends make great critique partners and beta readers. Embrace them. Love them. Appreciate them.

Where do you find writing friends?

Good question. This can be tricky and it can take some time. But by being generous with your own time first, you can form connections that will eventually become mutually beneficial. Some places to look for writing friends are:

  • Story Craft Café : Dabble has set up an entire community just for this purpose. If you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for? 
  • Twitter : The writing community on Twitter is huge. Check out the #writingcommunity hashtag, join in a pitch event or Twitter chat, and make some friends. 
  • Facebook : There are also countless writing groups on Facebook, including many that are genre-specific. Do a search for some that might apply to you and jump into the conversation.
  • ‍ Your local writer’s guild/bookstore/library : If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere with a large population of writers, look for events or opportunities to network and meet with other writers in person.

Now that you have a basic idea of what it takes to become a novelist, I hope I haven’t scared you off. The truth is, yes, it’s a lot of hard work, but the rewards are totally worth it. When you get that first fan email telling you how much they loved your book, or when you sign with that agent, or land that big book deal, or make that bestseller list—those are highs you’ll never forget.

To make your journey into noveldom easier, Dabble is here to help. Not only can you use it to help set word count goals for the day, month, and beyond. You can also use it to map out your plot structure, store character notes, and keep you focused on your writing. It’ll make those six really hard steps a lot easier.

Try it yourself for free for 14 days !

Nisha J Tuli is a YA and adult fantasy and romance author who specializes in glitter-strewn settings and angst-filled kissing scenes. Give her a feisty heroine, a windswept castle, and a dash of true love and she’ll be lost in the pages forever. When Nisha isn’t writing, it’s probably because one of her two kids needs something (but she loves them anyway). After they’re finally asleep, she can be found curled up with her Kobo or knitting sweaters and scarves, perfect for surviving a Canadian winter.


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Read. learn. create..

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Whether you're trying to learn the craft of writing or find your way in the publishing business, it always helps to study those who have gone before. Here's how to do an author study that will inspire your own journey.

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Kinda wish you didn't have to choose between genres when you write your next novel? Maybe you don't have to! Get to know hybrid genres and what it takes to write a great cross-genre story.

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No matter how much we want to ignore it, successful authors need a website. But there's more to a good author website than just throwing up a few nice words and pictures of your book. If you do it right, it could be your most powerful marketing tool.

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Do You Need a Degree to Become a Writer?

Educational backgrounds of writers, a glimpse into the educational tapestry of writers, common educational threads among writers, do writers need specific degrees.

  • Linguistic Mastery and Storytelling: Often developed through studies in literature, languages, or creative writing programs.
  • Research and Analytical Skills: Essential for non-fiction writers, which can be cultivated in academic fields such as journalism, history, or even the sciences.
  • Subject Matter Expertise: Writers often benefit from deep knowledge in specialized areas, which can be gained from any academic discipline.

Forging a Writer's Educational Path

  • Writing Practice: Regular writing, whether through personal projects, blogging, or contributions to publications, helps to refine one's craft.
  • Workshops and Critique Groups: Participating in writing groups and workshops provides valuable feedback and helps to improve writing skills.
  • Continued Education: Engaging in writing courses, seminars, and conferences can keep a writer's skills sharp and up-to-date with current trends.

The Essence of a Writer's Education: Diversity and Adaptability

Most common degrees for writers, english literature or language, creative writing, journalism or communications, technical writing or professional writing, liberal arts or humanities, popular majors for writers, english literature, communications, technical writing, popular minors for writers, digital media, foreign language, why pursue a degree for a writer career, networking and professional development in writing, career opportunities with a degree in writing, degree alternatives for a writer, writing workshops and retreats, online writing courses and platforms, writing competitions and literary journals, professional writing organizations, content creation and blogging, navigating a writer career without a degree, develop a writing routine, create a diverse portfolio, master the art of pitching, build your online presence, network and collaborate, seek feedback and revise, self-publish your work, continuously learn and adapt, monetize your skills, education faqs for writer, do you need to go to college to become a writer, is it worth it to get a degree for a writer role, how important is continuous learning for a writer.

Writer Certifications

book writer education

More Education for Related Roles

Crafting compelling narratives, engaging audiences with powerful words and ideas

Crafting compelling narratives to drive brand engagement and consumer action

Shaping narratives, refining content to captivate audiences and uphold brand voice

Uncovering truths, shaping public opinion through compelling storytelling and reporting

Shaping narratives and engaging audiences through compelling, creative content

Translating complex tech jargon into clear, user-friendly content, bridging knowledge gaps

What education do writers have?

Bachelor's degree, degree level, what level of education do writers have.

Writers often have similar levels of education. 72% of writers have a bachelor's degree, with the second most common being a certificate or associate degree at 26%.

Level of education that writers have

Education % of writers
No education 0%
High school diploma 0%
Certificate or associate degree 26%
Bachelor's degree 72%
Master's degree 2%
Doctorate 0%
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  • Writers and Authors: Jobs, Career, Salary and Education Information

Writers and Authors

Career, salary and education information.

What They Do : Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media.

Work Environment : Writers and authors may work anywhere they have access to a computer. Many writers and authors are self-employed.

How to Become One : A college degree in English, communications, or journalism is generally required for a full-time position as a writer or author. Experience gained through internships or any writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial.

Salary : The median annual wage for writers and authors is $69,510.

Job Outlook : Employment of writers and authors is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Related Careers : Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of writers and authors with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a writers or author with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Writer and Author Jobs

Technical Writing - Author and review instrument validation deliverables in accordance with established validation program. Assist with developing/enhancing instrumentation procedures. Author and ...

As a List Author , you will be writing articles that provide more in-depth analysis on a variety of topical events, shows or people in the entertainment industry. Collider covers a wide range of these ...

Write / author technical reports to management depicting the quality levels, quality problems and cost of quality. * Optimize manufacturability, assembly, testability, cost and quality of components ...

See all Writer and Author jobs

What Writers and Authors Do [ About this section ] [ To Top ]

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs.

Duties of Writers and Authors

Writers and authors typically do the following:

  • Choose subject matter that interests readers
  • Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, biographies, and more
  • Conduct research to obtain factual information and authentic detail
  • Write advertising copy for newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
  • Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
  • Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published

Writers must establish their credibility with editors and readers through clean prose, strong research, and the use of appropriate sources and citations. Writers and authors select the material they want to use and then convey the information to readers. With help from editors, they may revise or rewrite sections, searching for the clearest language and the most appropriate phrasing.

Some writers and authors are self-employed or freelance writers and authors. They sell their written content to book and magazine publishers; news organizations; advertising agencies; and movie, theater, and television producers. They may be hired to complete specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing a newspaper column, contributing to a series of articles in a magazine, or producing an organization's newsletter.

An increasing number of writers are producing material that is published only on the Internet, such as for digital news organizations or blogs.

The following are examples of types of writers and authors:

Copywriters prepare advertisements to promote the sale of a good or service. They often work with a client to produce written content, such as advertising themes, jingles, and slogans.

Content writers write about any topic of interest, unlike writers who usually specialize in a given field.

Biographers write a thorough account of a person's life. They gather information from interviews and research about the person to accurately portray important events in that person's life.

Bloggers write posts to a blog that may pertain to any topic or a specific field, such as fashion, news, or sports.

Novelists write books of fiction, creating characters and plots that may be imaginary or based on real events.

Playwrights write scripts for theatrical productions. They come up with a concept, write lines for actors to say, produce stage direction for actors to follow, and suggest ideas for theatrical set design.

Screenwriters create scripts for movies and television. They may produce original stories, characters, and dialogue, or turn a book into a movie or television script.

Speechwriters write speeches for business leaders, politicians, and others who must speak in front of an audience. A speech is heard, not read, which means speechwriters must think about audience reaction and rhetorical effect.

Work Environment for Writers and Authors [ About this section ] [ To Top ]

Writers and authors hold about 142,800 jobs. The largest employers of writers and authors are as follows:

Self-employed workers 62%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 11%
Information 11%
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 3%
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 3%

Writers and authors may work anywhere they have access to a computer.

Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—California, New York, Texas, and Washington, DC—but improved communications and Internet capabilities allow writers and authors to work from almost anywhere. Some writers and authors prefer to work and travel to meet with publishers and clients and to do research or conduct interviews in person.

Writer and Author Work Schedules

Some writers and authors work part time. Most keep regular office hours, either to stay in contact with sources and editors or to set up a writing routine, but many set their own hours. Others may need to work evenings and weekends to produce something acceptable for an editor or client. Self-employed or freelance writers and authors may face the pressures of juggling multiple projects or continually looking for new work.

How to Become a Writer or Author [ About this section ] [ To Top ]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Writers and Authors near you!

A college degree in English, journalism, or communications is generally required for a salaried position as a writer or author. Experience can be gained through internships, but any form of writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial.

Education for Writers and Authors

A bachelor's degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in English, journalism, or communications.

Other Work Experience for Writers and Authors

Writers can obtain job experience by working for high school and college newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. College theater programs offer playwrights an opportunity to have their work performed. Many magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

Employers also increasingly prefer new applicants to have the ability to code and program webpages or manipulate data to create a visual story using tables, charts, infographics, and maps. Online publications require knowledge of computer software and editing tools that are used to combine text with graphics, audio, video, and animation.

In addition, anyone with Internet access can start a blog and gain writing experience. Some of this writing may lead to paid assignments regardless of education, because the quality of writing, the unique perspective, and the size of the potential audience are the greatest determinants of success for a piece of writing.

Writers or authors can come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences as long as they demonstrate strong writing skills.

Writer and Author Training

Writers and authors typically need to gain writing experience through on-the-job training. They may practice writing and work with more experienced writers and editors before their work is ready for publication.

Writers who want to write about a particular topic may need formal training or experience related to that topic.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Writers and Authors

Some associations offer certifications for writers and authors. Certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the American Grant Writers' Association (AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer® credential.

Certification can also increase opportunities for advancement.

Advancement for Writers and Authors

Beginning writers and authors can get a start and put their name on work immediately by writing for small businesses, local newspapers, advertising agencies, and nonprofit organizations. However, opportunities for advancement within these organizations may be limited because they usually do not have enough regular work.

Writers and authors can advance their careers further by building a reputation, taking on more complex writing assignments, and getting published in more prestigious markets and publications. Having published work that has been well received and maintaining a track record of meeting deadlines are important for advancement.

Many editors begin work as writers. Those who are particularly skilled at identifying stories, correcting writing style, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.

Important Qualities for Writers and Authors

Adaptability. Writers and authors need to be able to adapt to newer software platforms and programs, including various content management systems (CMS).

Creativity. Writers and authors must be able to develop new and interesting plots, characters, or ideas so they can come up with new stories.

Critical-thinking skills. Writers and authors must have dual expertise in thinking through or understanding new concepts, and conveying it through writing.

Determination. Writers and authors sometimes work on projects that take years to complete. They must demonstrate perseverance and personal drive to meet deadlines.

Persuasion. Writers, especially those in advertising, must be able to persuade others to feel a certain way about a good or service.

Social perceptiveness. Writers and authors must understand how readers react to certain ideas in order to connect with their audience.

Writing skills. Writers and authors must be able to write clearly and effectively in order to convey feeling and emotion and communicate with readers.

Writer and Author Salaries [ About this section ] [ More salary/earnings info ] [ To Top ]

The median annual wage for writers and authors is $69,510. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,500, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $133,580.

The median annual wages for writers and authors in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Information $80,560
Professional, scientific, and technical services $65,210
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations $64,280
Educational services; state, local, and private $61,940

Job Outlook for Writers and Authors [ About this section ] [ To Top ]

Employment of writers and authors is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 15,200 openings for writers and authors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Writers and Authors

As traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms, writers and authors are shifting their focus to online media, which should result in some employment growth for these workers.

Employment projections data for Writers and Authors, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Writers and authors 142,800 148,700 4 5,900

Careers Related to Writers and Authors [ About this section ] [ To Top ]

Announcers and djs.

Announcers present news and sports or may interview guests on media such as radio and television. Disc jockeys (DJs) act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or play recorded music at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists

News analysts, reporters, and journalists keep the public updated about current events and noteworthy information. They report international, national, and local news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals.

Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization's communications channels.

More Writer and Author Information [ About this section ] [ To Top ]

For more information about writers and authors, visit

American Grant Writers’ Association, Inc.

American Society of Journalists and Authors

Association of Writers & Writing Programs

National Association of Science Writers

Society of Professional Journalists

Writers Guild of America East

A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or the Top 30 Career Profiles

Search for jobs:.

Author/Writer Education Requirements

The educational requirements for an author/writer vary, with some holding no degree, while others having a high school diploma, associate, bachelor's, master's, or even a doctorate degree. Majors often include English, business, communication, psychology, and journalism. According to Dr. Wilma Davidson , Instructor at the University of South Florida, "All businesses need good writers. You can work remotely as a freelancer or an employee without concern about where your employer is located." She further adds, "If you'd like to be a technical writer, there is an advantage to being close to the engineers you may be working with as you write their manuals, but that can be handled-and already is-being handled remotely."

What education do you need to become an author/writer?

What degree do you need to be an author/writer.

The most common degree for author/writers is bachelor's degree, with 59% of author/writers earning that degree. The second and third most common degree levels are master's degree degree at 17% and master's degree degree at 12%.

  • Bachelor's , 59%
  • Master's , 17%
  • Associate , 12%
  • High School Diploma , 5%
  • Other Degrees , 7%

What should I major in to become an author/writer?

According to Emily Griesinger, Ph.D. , Professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, "don't give up" if you're an aspiring author or writer. She suggests that those with English majors, in particular, can excel in this field due to their critical thinking and persuasive writing skills. Therefore, a bachelor's degree in English stands out as one of the best majors for an author/writer.

  • English , 15%
  • Business , 14%
  • Communication , 11%
  • Psychology , 8%
  • Other Majors , 52%

Most common colleges for author/writers

Author/writers often get their degrees at University of Phoenix, Temple University, and University of Central Florida. Here are the most common colleges for author/writers in the US based on their resumes.

Author/Writer Common CollegePercentages
University of Phoenix14.29%
Temple University11.11%
University of Central Florida6.35%
California State University - San Bernardino6.35%
Rowan University4.76%

Best majors for author/writers

1 14.8%
2 13.5%
3 10.5%
4 7.6%
5 7.6%

Best colleges for author/writers

The top colleges for author/writers, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, are chosen based on admissions rate, retention rate, and graduates' earnings. These institutions offer Bachelor's and Master's degrees, which are crucial for author/writers seeking higher salaries and better job opportunities.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

Harvard University

2. Harvard University

Northwestern University

3. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

Columbia University in the City of New York

4. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

University of California, Berkeley

5. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Private

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

7. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA • Private

University of Southern California

8. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

Emory University

9. Emory University

Atlanta, GA • Private

University of Texas at Austin

10. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

20 best online courses for author/writers

1. Fiction for Young Writers (Writing Mastery)

A fun, interactive workshop to help young writers unlock their creativity, improve their craft, and write better stories...

2. Bestseller Book Marketing: Amazon Kindle KDP Self-Publishing

2023 Amazon book marketing & Kindle KDP self-publishing! Paperback books & Kindle (KDP) ebooks. Amazon Kindle KDP sales!...

3. Become a Freelance Content Writer - Get Paid to Write Online

Learn everything you need to know about becoming a freelance writer - Work from home!...

4. Reverse Engineer Riveting Fiction & Write Best Selling Books

You will be writing page turning fiction that your readers will love when you plot, outline and write the right way...

5. Write & Publish Your First Nonfiction Book on the Side

Learn how to write a bestselling kindle book while working a full time job (even if you don't have lot of time)...

6. Helping Writers to Write and Keep Writing

This limiting factor with most writers is their mind. This course will help get your state of mind into Success Mode...

7. Conquering Writer's Block (Writing Mastery)

Proven strategies and tools to overcome writer's block, renew your motivation, and write novels with confidence...

8. Write A Book - Share Your Story

Write, Self Publish and Market your Non-Fiction Book, Launch on Amazon and Learn How to Become a Best Seller on Kindle...

9. COMPLETE Creative Writing - All Genres - THE FULL COURSE!

Learn to write engaging Fiction, Poetry, Drama, & Creative Non-Fiction and become the successful writer you want to be...

10. How To Become a Bestselling Author on Amazon Kindle

Learn how to make money writing with this complete guide to writing, formatting, publishing and marketing Kindle ebooks...

11. How to Write a Nonfiction Book That Actually Sells

The Step-by-Step System for Writing Non-fiction Books in 30 Days from #1 Bestselling Author Tom Corson-Knowles...

12. Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Turn your idea into a published novel or screenplay in one of today's hottest genres...

13. The Foundations of Fiction (Writing Mastery)

Become a creative writing master and write killer novels, memoirs, or short stories...

14. Publish Your Novel: Self-Publishing & Marketing Masterclass

The Complete, Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing Your Book and Launching Your Author Career...

15. 3-Step Writing System: Blogging & Writing Secrets

Blogging & writing tips for beginners to pros. Become an expert blogger/freelance writer. Ultimate blog writing course!...

16. Writing Fiction That Sings: Write Novels With Great Voice

Writing novels, blogs, or nonfiction books? Learn editing techniques in this writing course and up your writing skills...

17. Writing Revenue: Write Well, Get Published, & Earn Money

A practical guide to become a successful writer, get published in big publications, and generate a healthy income...

18. Amazon Self-Publishing - Create Kindle Books Fast

Advanced Techniques to Create Books Fast and Build your Publishing Empire...

19. Writing Tools & Hacks: Copywriting/Blogging/Content Writing

The best FREE writing tools & apps + Hacks to take your copywriting, blogging, & content writing to the next level...

20. Kindle Launch Plan: Publish and Market an Amazon Bestseller

Learn the proven process of how to take your non-fiction book from idea to the top of the Amazon charts...

Top 10 most affordable universities for author/writers

The most affordable schools for author/writers are Baruch College of the City University of New York, university of florida, and brooklyn college of the city university of new york.

If the best universities for author/writers are out of your price range, check out these affordable schools. After factoring in in-state tuition and fees, the average cost of attendance, admissions rate, average net price, and mean earnings after six years, we found that these are the most affordable schools for author/writers.

Baruch College of the City University of New York

1. Baruch College of the City University of New York

Cost of Attendance

University of Florida

2. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Private

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York

3. Brooklyn College of the City University of New York

Brooklyn, NY • Private

Brigham Young University

4. Brigham Young University

Provo, UT • Private

California State University - Long Beach

5. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

USF St. Petersburg

6. USF St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, FL • Private

California State University - Los Angeles

7. California State University - Los Angeles

SUNY Farmingdale

8. SUNY Farmingdale

Farmingdale, NY • Private

9. Lehman College of the City University of New York

Bronx, NY • Private

University of South Florida

10. University of South Florida

Tampa, FL • Private

Top 10 hardest universities to get into for author/writers

The hardest universities for author/writers to get into are Northwestern University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University.

Some great schools for author/writers are hard to get into, but they also set your career up for greater success. The list below shows the most challenging universities to get into for author/writers based on an institution's admissions rates, average SAT scores accepted, median ACT scores accepted, and mean earnings of students six years after admission.

1. Northwestern University

Admissions Rate

SAT Average

Northeastern University

3. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

Boston University

4. Boston University

University of Tulsa

5. University of Tulsa

Tulsa, OK • Private

Southern Methodist University

6. Southern Methodist University

Dallas, TX • Private

7. Columbia University in the City of New York

8. massachusetts institute of technology.

New York University

9. New York University

10. emory university, top 10 easy-to-apply-to universities for author/writers.

The easiest schools for author/writers to get into are University of the Incarnate Word, notre dame de namur university, and rochester university.

Some schools are much easier to get into. If you want to start your career as an author/writer without much hassle, check out the list of schools where you will be accepted in no time. We compiled admissions rates, average SAT scores, average ACT scores, and average salary of students six years after graduation to uncover which were the easiest schools to get into for author/writers.

University of the Incarnate Word

1. University of the Incarnate Word

San Antonio, TX • Private

Notre Dame de Namur University

2. Notre Dame de Namur University

Belmont, CA • Private

3. Rochester University

Rochester Hills, MI • Private

Grand View University

4. Grand View University

Des Moines, IA • Private

Centenary University

5. Centenary University

Hackettstown, NJ • Private

Gwynedd Mercy University

6. Gwynedd Mercy University

Gwynedd Valley, PA • Private

Nyack College

7. Nyack College

Wayland Baptist University

8. Wayland Baptist University

Plainview, TX • Private

Curry College

9. Curry College

Milton, MA • Private

San Francisco State University

10. San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA • Private

Average author/writer salary by education level

According to our data, author/writers with a Doctorate degree earn the highest average salary, at $68,722 annually. Author/writers with a Master's degree earn an average annual salary of $64,827.

Author/Writer education levelAuthor/Writer salary
Master's Degree$64,827
Bachelor's Degree$64,682
Doctorate Degree$68,722

Author/Writer Education FAQs

What is the best college for author/writers, search for author/writer jobs.

Updated April 5, 2024

Editorial Staff

The Zippia Research Team has spent countless hours reviewing resumes, job postings, and government data to determine what goes into getting a job in each phase of life. Professional writers and data scientists comprise the Zippia Research Team.

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Home / Book Editing / How to Become a Book Editor in 2024: A Complete Guide

How to Become a Book Editor in 2024: A Complete Guide

I believe that behind every fantastic author is a great editor . There’s a reason you often see thanks or dedications to editors in the front matter . Editing a book is hard work. It may not take as long as it took to write it, but book editors work very hard to help novels reach their potential. To become a book editor, you need a bachelor’s degree, a firm grasp of the written word, and the willingness to seek relevant job opportunities. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details about what it takes to become a successful book editor.

Interested in learning more about being a book editor and how to edit? Check out this page with a comprehensive guide and a TON more resources!

  • Duties & responsibilities of a book editor
  • How much a book editor makes
  • What makes a great editor
  • The 4 types of editors
  • The qualifications needed to become a book editor
  • How to get started as a traditional editor
  • How to develop your online presence
  • How to network as an editor and build the connections you'll need to succeed

Table of contents

  • What is a Book Editor?

Duties & Responsibilities of a Book Editor

  • Typical Book Editor Salary
  • Education and Qualifications for Book Editor
  • Self-Control
  • Communication Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • 1. Developmental Editors
  • 2. Line Editors
  • 3. Copy Editors
  • 4. Proofreaders
  • Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Step 2: Refine Your Writing Skills
  • Step 3: Learn the Newest Publishing and Editing Software
  • Step 4: Seek Out Internships
  • Step 5: Sign Up For Seminars
  • Step 6: Build Up Your Resume
  • Step 1: Establish an Online Presence
  • Step 2: Network and Build Relationships
  • Step 3: Strengthen Your Editing Skills
  • Step 4: Set Reasonable Rates and Clear Service Offerings
  • Step 5: Use Binding Contracts
  • Develop Your Online Presence as an Editor
  • Online Networking
  • Face-to-Face Networking

Links in this article may give me a small commission if you use them to purchase certain services. There’s NO extra cost to you, and it helps me continue to write free articles like this one.

A book editor is someone who edits the words, punctuation, overall story, and/or formatting in a manuscript. They need to be good at fact-checking and paying attention to details. Freelance editors take on work they can find online, via networking, or through relationships with book publishing houses. Traditional editors hold a formal role in a traditional publishing house and even have a say in which books get published . Depending on the type of book editor, he or she might work alongside the author from the very beginning, making big picture suggestions to improve the book. Or they may be the final set of eyes to look at a book before it is published. It’s no wonder that many bestsellers list their editors on the dedication page or the Thank You page. A good editor takes a good concept and helps the author turn it into a good book . A book editor costs different amounts for every project. Below, you can see how much each type of editor may cost for a novel-length manuscript.

  • Developmental editors cost $1,000 and $8,000, depending on manuscript length and the individual editor’s experience level.
  • Line editors cost between $600 and $2,000.
  • Copy editors cost between $300 and $1,200.
  • Proofreaders cost between $200 and $1,000.

How do I start a career in book editing? To start a book editing career, you need to determine which type of editor you want to be (developmental editor, line editor, copy editor, or proofreader). Then, you need to hone your writing skills and editing abilities. Finally, look for internships, freelance work, and other ways to boost your portfolio.

The typical book editor’s responsibilities generally require that they:

  • Acquire manuscripts to edit
  • Keep up with deadlines
  • Tweak content so that it is error-free and easy to read for the intended audience
  • Verify facts used in the book
  • Work alongside the author to develop the story, prose, dialogue, writing style, voice, etc.
  • Check final formatting looks clean and professional (if you’re a proofreader)
  • Sustain good working relationships with authors, editorial assistants, marketing personnel , graphic designers, etc.
  • Maintain an editor website and online presence (especially if you’re a freelancer)
  • Sign up for seminars to keep up to date with the latest trends and linguistic standards

How much does a book editor make? A book editor can make a living wage of $30,000-$60,000, even when starting out. The 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median salary of newspaper, periodical, and book editors as $57,030/year. (2019 statistics were the newest available in March 2021.) It also includes these statistics for the more general career field Editor (which includes editors and associate editors for online purposes, not just books):

  • Top 10% annual salary: $122,280
  • Bottom 10% annual salary: $32,620

It’s worth noting that many editing jobs are based in New York City, the publishing hub of the Western Hemisphere. Since the cost of living is pretty high there, I’d bet if you got an editor job anywhere else in the US, it would pay less than the median salary, especially if you’re just starting out.

What qualifications do you need to be a book editor? To become a book editor, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study (English, Journalism, etc.) and a firm grasp of the English language. Prior experience in publishing, relevant internships, and a robust portfolio also boost your qualifications. You can become an editor even if you have no experience, by:

  • Getting a relevant bachelor’s degree
  • Honing your writing skills
  • Landing an internship or entry-level position
  • Establishing industry relationships
  • Building your resume

What Makes a Great Book Editor?

What makes a great book editor are years of experience in the writing and publishing worlds, willingness to set aside their ego, and good communication skills (honesty, directness, etc.). Just because you did well in your high school English class doesn't mean you'd make a good editor. There are a lot of good writers out there who would make horrible editors. (The same can be said for editors who want to write.) Writing and editing are distinct disciplines. Both can be learned through practice and determination. Here are a few common traits of good editors to help you decide if this is work you want to pursue.

A good editor is committed to making an author’s book better, not twisting the voice into the editor’s own words. This requires a unique mixture of self-control and empathy. It takes a great deal of self-control to read another person’s work and critique it without interjecting yourself into it. Good editors have the singular ability to correct or modify writing while protecting the author's voice. It's much more complex than it seems, trust me. There are plenty of horror stories about bad editors: people who completely strip an author’s work of its distinct style and insert their own as a replacement. These are not actual editors but instead frustrated writers who take their lack of success out on somebody else.

A good editor works hard to understand each author's individual goals and offers comprehensive suggestions in the context of these goals.

Editors aren't in it for an ego boost. A good editor is humble while giving feedback but also when reading responses from the author. It's difficult to give feedback with humility — but the best editors find a way to do it. In my opinion, the secret is recognizing that editing and writing are two completely different jobs. The writer's job is to get their ideas onto paper as best they can. The editor's job is to help the author communicate those ideas more clearly. The creation of engaging prose is a team effort, not a competition.

Good editors aren't afraid to give honest feedback, but they do so respectfully. This takes good communication skills, such as candor, honesty, tact, respect, compromise, and maturity. An editor should help a book reach its full potential. For this reason, editors need to be able to give honest, direct feedback. That said, some authors (especially new authors) aren't thrilled about honest, direct feedback. Editors need to be prepared for that. A good editor knows how to compromise, when to back down to avoid conflict, how to respect the author without hurting his/her feelings, and when to tactfully push for a necessary change. Writers and editors might butt heads during the editing process because a book is a product of passionate love and so much hard work. But a little friction can be healthy in creative work. A good editor should be able to communicate to avoid as much friction as possible and when to ultimately back down. If you’re going to be an editor, make sure every suggestion is contextualized within the big picture: making this the best book it can be.

Editors should be masters of the written language. A good editor doesn’t have to be a great book writer, but they do have to be a great writer in other ways. Editors are obsessed with grammar and syntax. You need to be a sucker for spelling and punctuation and have hawk eyes for passive voice and repetitive word usage. Your emails and social media posts should look immaculate. These crucial members of a writer’s team are the last line of defense between the author and the reader. Attention to detail is a must. If mistakes slip past the editor, they're exposed to the world, undermining an entire book’s credibility and success. Fingers crossed there aren’t any typos in this article!

The 4 Types of Book Editors

If you're thinking about becoming an editor, it is critical to know which type of editor you’re trying to be. You may want to focus on just one field of editing. Or you may choose to offer services at multiple stages of the editing process. The 4 most common types of editors are:

  • Developmental editors
  • Line editors
  • Copy editors
  • Proofreaders

I’ve listed them in the chronological order that an author would hire them. Let’s talk about what each different type of editor actually does.

Developmental editors look for plot holes, dropped characters, logical inconsistencies, and ways to improve an author’s overall manuscript. They identify structural deficiencies, weak arguments, and unsupported claims in nonfiction books as well. Developmental editors are the most expensive type of editor. Depending on the book’s length, these editors can make many thousands of dollars on a single manuscript. According to some sources, true developmental editing begins before an author starts to write a manuscript. The editor works alongside the author during the entire writing process, pointing out potential improvements every step of the way. In truth, most fiction authors just hire a developmental editor after the manuscript is complete.

Often, developmental editors perform some of the work of line editors. Combined, this is called “substantive editing.”

Contrary to the name, line editors do not look at your book line-by-line. Instead, they take a more overall approach to editing your book. This is the least common type of editor because line editing is so similar to copy editing, just more big picture. If an author is looking for big picture editing, he/she will probably just hire a development editor. Note: In the UK, line editors are synonymous with proofreaders. In the US, they are an incremental step between developmental editors and copy editors.

Copy editors focus on a manuscript’s style and tone. They correct errors in spelling, grammar, syntax, dialogue formatting , and punctuation use. They ensure the book is clear and consistent and that it smoothly transitions from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter. A copy editor is probably who most people envision when they think of book editors.

Proofreaders are the last step of the editing process. They make sure a book has proper grammar, no misspellings, and correct sentence structure. Many of these editors also proofread finalized formatting. They let an author or publisher know if a book is ready to go to printing and publishing. Proofreaders often cost the least of any editor. However, the time they spend on each manuscript is less than any other editor, so it’s definitely fair. Ideally, authors would use proofreading software such as Grammarly or ProWritingAid to catch more typical grammatical and spelling errors before hiring a human proofreader. An author’s job is to do their best to hand their editors as complete and high-quality a book as possible. That said, software should not replace a human being for book proofreading.

How to Get Started as a Traditional Book Editor

Freelance editing might sound like the easier option. However, getting an internship at a traditional publishing house is not difficult for college students and burgeoning editors. The relationships you build during that internship can easily lead to a traditional book editor position — it’s all about who you know. Alternatively, look up book editor jobs in your area. Even if you’re not going to apply right away, it’s helpful to learn what various publishing companies expect in terms of portfolios, years of experience, references, etc. And remember, there are more editing positions available than just book editing. Would you be happier editing short-form content or website copy? Agencies and small businesses are constantly on the lookout for web copy editors for these positions. Below, we’ll talk about basic guidelines for getting started as a staff editor at a publishing house. We'll discuss freelance editing further down. Here are 6 steps you can take on your journey to becoming a book editor:

  • Get a bachelor’s degree
  • Refine your writing skills
  • Learn the newest publishing and editing software
  • Seek out internships
  • Sign up for seminars
  • Build up your resume

Step 1 : Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Most editors have a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Most English or Communications degrees will do just fine, including journalism, publishing, and creative writing. A master’s degree should give you a further edge over the steep competition. A Business or Marketing degree may also qualify you to become an editor, but you'll need to practice and display good writing. This education provides potential editors with the fundamental skills needed to be professional editors. It proves to future employers or freelance clients that you know what you’re talking about and able to follow through with long and challenging commitments. A degree is basically necessary, but it’s not a golden ticket to getting a job. Becoming an editor is a competitive industry, even if you’re freelancing and don’t need to apply for a job at a prestigious publisher.

Step 2 : Refine Your Writing Skills

Every editor needs to constantly refine their writing skills, especially when starting out. You need to be able to write to be a good editor. That doesn't mean you should have a fantasy author's imagination, but you should be able to write creatively and correctly. This will affect your ability to correct copy when needed. One way to refine your writing skills is to start a blog. Many editors also write books themselves, a surefire way to practice good writing.

Format Beautiful Professional Books

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Step 3 : Learn the Newest Publishing and Editing Software

Any editor should know how to use the newest publishing and editing software. This way, you can choose the best option for you and your clients. Learning the most popular software can be daunting, but these are the tools of your trade. It’s a valuable investment into your career path. Many online courses can help guide you through the basics. Udemy has a great selection of courses on publishing and editing tools to get you started.

Step 4 : Seek Out Internships

Serious about becoming a book editor? Seek out internships at publishing houses. You'll get an up-close and personal look into the life of an editor. It's one of the best ways to learn the tricks of the trade and form valuable relationships. The experience and relationships you earn from internships may lead to a full-time staff editing position.

Step 5 : Sign Up For Seminars

An editor should sign up for seminars or lectures on book editing from time to time. These are ordinarily one-day workshops that help refresh an editor’s knowledge and skill on top of teaching them the newest publishing industry standards.

Step 6 : Build Up Your Resume

Get out into the real world and find experience. Hopefully, you landed an internship, which looks great on a resume. Now keep building up that all-important resume. Hone your skills with small jobs. If you didn’t find a full-time position right out of college, then you may benefit from starting with a little bit of freelance work. Upwork and Fiverr are great places to find editing work. However, expect the rates to be horrendously low. Many people on these sites will take the editor with the cheapest rate, even though the final product will make it obvious how much they spent on editing. But offering your services at a lower rate for a (very short) time can help build up your resume. Important Note : Offering a lower rate than your worth can be an effective temporary strategy to hone your skills and build your resume. However, I am not advocating for underselling yourself. Don’t compromise your value just to find work. An editor’s skills are worth a lot. Your skills are worth a lot.

How to Get Started as a Freelance Book Editor

If you want to get started as a freelance editor for full-length books, you should:

  • Establish an online presence
  • Sharpen your knack for networking
  • Strengthen your linguistic skills to prove you’re a good editor
  • Set reasonable rates for your work
  • Use binding contracts with your clients

These skills are on top of the majority of steps required to become a traditional book editor. Many professional book editors start from traditional publishing houses and migrate towards freelance work. Pro tip: Freelance editors often work with writers who are self-publishing. Unfortunately, self-publishers seldom understand the true value of a professional editor. Don’t reduce your rates below what you’re worth just to work with ungrateful writers. Let them hire the unqualified editor offering a $100 flat rate, and they’ll get what they paid for. You could instead start out as a freelance editor without any traditional publisher experience. But you better be able to edit before you take on work. The best way to start your freelance editing career? Get to work.

Step 1 : Establish an Online Presence

Put yourself out there on social media, LinkedIn, Fiverr, and Upwork. You may also search job sites like for freelance work. Drum up interest and pour all your effort into these editing jobs, even if they’re smaller-scale. That's okay. You need to build your portfolio and credentials by finding as many legit jobs as possible.

Step 2 : Network and Build Relationships

Whereas traditional editors often begin networking as college students and interns, a freelance editor without an existing network must build relationships independently. And it’s a crucial step to establishing a freelance editing business. You can join an editing association — such as ACES ( The Society for Editing ) or EFA ( Editorial Freelancers Association ) — and certify your expertise. Relationships with these types of groups show your potential clients that you are serious about your work. I discuss more ideas a little later below (that aren’t just for freelancers), such as using social media to network professionally.

Step 3 : Strengthen Your Editing Skills

“Freelance” does not mean “poor quality.” As a freelance editor, you’ll need to be on top of your grammar, spelling, and linguistics. Invest in courses through Udemy , Masterclass , or even on YouTube . A bachelor’s degree in English or a related field helps build your credibility, but it is not necessary for freelance work. If you don’t have a degree related to editing, you better make darn sure your grasp of the written word is faultless.

Step 4 : Set Reasonable Rates and Clear Service Offerings

Finding clients is a big part of getting started in freelance editing, but it's not the only concern. You also want to decide what services you'll provide and your rate for each of those services. Check out our list of book editors to better understand what services established editors are offering and what their pricing is. Important Note : I said it for getting started as a traditional editor, and I’ll say it here. Offering a lower rate can be an effective temporary strategy to hone your skills and build your resume. But I do not advocate for underselling yourself. A freelance editor’s skills are worth a lot. Your skills are worth a lot.

Step 5 : Use Binding Contracts

As with any freelance work, I encourage you to put everything in black and white — legally binding contracts. You and your clients need to understand one another, which is the best way to establish trust and accountability. Have your contracts drafted and reviewed by legal professionals like the team over at LegalZoom .

In today's Digital Era, the Internet is the most essential tool you have as a burgeoning editor. Whether you're freelancing or trying to land a traditional editor position, you need to develop your online presence as an editor to get ahead. Establish your own editor website, which will be the primary advertisement of your editing services. On this website, clearly list what services you offer, your rates, and a call to action to “Get A Quote.” Include a professional headshot and your credentials, such as any degrees you hold or certifications you earned. Websites are relatively cheap and easy to set up. Make sure it looks clean and professional, or potential clients will scoff and look elsewhere. Using your editor website, demonstrate your expertise. Provide sample work from your portfolio. You could even write blog posts about topics related to book editing, such as:

  • Writing how-to's
  • Editing tips
  • Publishing tricks
  • Software reviews
  • Company comparisons
  • Personal stories from the editing world

Your editor website won’t be a major hit overnight. But now, when you meet people at a conference or networking event, you can send them to your professional-looking website for more info.

Another way to develop your online presence is through social media. Consistent content and the right hashtags can help you get discovered by the authors you want to work with.

This includes Instagram , Twitter, LinkedIn (especially for editors seeking formal editing jobs), Facebook , and even Reddit — depending on your preferred clientele.

How to Network as an Editor

Networking is a huge part of succeeding as a book editor, especially when you're starting out. There are several methods to networking effectively, both online and face-to-face. Let these tips help you rise above the noise and start getting the attention you deserve.

When it comes to online networking as an editor, social media is your best friend. Join groups or follow accounts dedicated to writers, authors, and book editing. You may be able to offer your services when the opportunity arises. (Mind you, some groups are very against personal advertisement. Be sure to check each group’s rules and guidelines.) Platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start creating your editing network. Also, you can get active on publishing or editing forums such as those found on Reddit . You need an editor website. This is critical to online networking, as well as face-to-face networking. A clean, clear, professional editor website tells people you mean business. A good website gives potential clients a taste of your work and entices them with a call to action. You could even publish blog posts on your website to drum up interest and name recognition with paid or organic search traffic.

Although we live in a digital world, don't overlook the importance of networking in person. Face-to-face networking still works, and it works great. When a potential client or employer networks with you in real life, there is a connection you can’t make over the Internet. Attend conventions, book fairs, and conferences . This opens up a whole new world of job opportunities. You will meet writers, publishers, and other editors. And many conferences are free or very inexpensive. In-person events are also an excellent opportunity to show off some sweet new business cards. For more info on creating a killer business card, check out this article . You need to have an editor website. I know. I sound like a broken record. But being able to give potential employers and clients whom you meet a business card that directs them to a professional-looking website is invaluable.

What kind of book editor do you want to be?

There are 4 types of editors, not to mention freelancing versus traditional editing jobs. No matter what kind of book editor you want to be, this article should help you reach your goals. Becoming a book editor is no simple task. But it gets easier as you start to build your resume and impress clients who refer you to their friends and colleagues. It’s about getting good, then networking, then completing every job on time and with excellence.

If you're up to the task, a freelance book editing career can make for an enriching life. Usually, this type of work comes with a much greater degree of flexibility than other jobs. The pay can be surprisingly good as you grow your clientele.

Interested in diving deeper into becoming an editor? There's a well-reviewed, one-hour course on Udemy called “How to Become a Freelance Editor: Make Money Copy Editing.” It's typically $79.99, but Udemy is known for regularly running sales. If you're looking for a next step, I encourage you to check out Udemy . Check out this helpful book editing course, especially if you’re just getting started: Book Editing Blueprint .

Final Thought: Much love and respect to all the hardworking editors out there. The right books at the right time can change the world, and editors are in the business of making books better. That's important work, and I'm grateful for the people with the skill and dedication to do it.

Dave Chesson

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

  • Duties & Responsibilities of a Book Editor

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9 thoughts on “ How to Become a Book Editor in 2024: A Complete Guide ”

Thank your for the information! 🙂

Glad to have helped.

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I am frequently referred to as the grammar nazi by friends and family (always in the most loving way possible, of course, and generally at the same time that they are asking me to review something they’ve written). I actually have a visceral response to incorrect grammar and typos. Just thinking of the cultural debacle that is the misuse of “me, myself, and I” is enough to make me shudder. I enjoy a spirited discussion of the use of the oxford comma, and when I realized that my copy of Strunk & White had disappeared during a recent move, I was compelled to immediately replace it, just because I enjoy re-reading it occasionally.

It is this strong committment to proper grammar (I prefer to avoid the use of the word “obsession” whenever possible) combined with my heavy reading habit that led me to your article. While I enjoy reading ebooks on my kindle, I needed to employ a sort of desensitization process in order to allow me to do so, as typos and grammatical errors seem to be widespread across the format. However, after encountering error after error in a recent ebook by a popular, prolific, and well-reviewed author, I could not stop thinking “oh my god, do none of these authors have a grammar obsessed sister to do a final proofread?” and “how could a professional, paid proofreader miss all of these? I could do a much better job.” Through the miracle of Google, a minute later, I was reading your article and considering a career as an editor.

I wanted to comment to thank you for your detailed and informative description of the types of editors and the possible paths to pursue a career in this field. It gave me a lot to think about. However, I must also admit that my comment was at least partially motivated by your mention of grammar obsession (okay, yes, it applies to me) and a concern regarding possible typos in the same section and my discovery of a typo later in the article. Usually, I have no way to bring a typo to the author’s attention when I find it, but this time, the comment button was right there, and I couldn’t resist. It’s in the first paragraph of the “Do You Have What It Takes…” section. It reads “it does get easier as you starting building your resume” instead of “as you start building.” My apologies, but I just couldn’t help myself.

I truly appreciate all the amazing info you discussed in this post. I got a few ideas on how to take my dream of becoming a book editor to the next level with practical action. Looking forward to checking out the info/links you provided.

Awesome and you’ve got this!

Loved your content. To be a good editor is a tough task however your article just made it look so easy. It is the perfect guide for me. Please keep writing more blogs like these.

Thank you and I will.

Your self-publishing experience will help me a lot in self- publishing my book. After reading your journey have given me more clarity on how can I get my script edited more easily and efficiently. Now have idea of all the challenges and obstacles that i will encounter while editing and will take all the necessary precautions needed. I also got a clear understanding of what type of editing I need for my book and also the type of editor that suits my need the best. I now realize the true meaning of editing as it is the most important aspect of self-publishing.

Awesome and glad to have helped!

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book writer education

School's out

A critical take on education and schooling

The 50 great books on education

Professor of Education, University of Derby

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book writer education

I have often argued that I would not let any teacher into a school unless – as a minimum – they had read, carefully and well, the three great books on education: Plato’s Republic, Rousseau’s Émile and Dewey’s Democracy and Education. There would be no instrumental purpose in this, but the struggle to understand these books and the thinking involved in understanding them would change teachers and ultimately teaching.

These are the three great books because each is sociologically whole. They each present a description and arguments for an education for a particular and better society. You do not have to agree with these authors. Plato’s tripartite education for a just society ruled over by philosopher kings; Rousseau’s education through nature to establish the social contract and Dewey’s relevant, problem-solving democratic education for a democratic society can all be criticised. That is not the point. The point is to understand these great works. They constitute the intellectual background to any informed discussion of education.

What of more modern works? I used to recommend the “blistering indictment” of the flight from traditional liberal education that is Melanie Phillips’s All Must Have Prizes, to be read alongside Tom Bentley’s Learning Beyond the Classroom: Education for a Changing World, which is a defence of a wider view of learning for the “learning age”. These two books defined the debate in the 1990s between traditional education by authoritative teachers and its rejection in favour of a new learning in partnership with students.

Much time and money is spent on teacher training and continuing professional development and much of it is wasted. A cheaper and better way of giving student teachers and in-service teachers an understanding of education would be to get them to read the 50 great works on education.

The books I have identified, with the help of members of the Institute of Ideas’ Education Forum, teachers and colleagues at several universities, constitute an attempt at an education “canon”.

What are “out” of my list are textbooks and guides to classroom practice. What are also “out” are novels and plays. But there are some great literary works that should be read by every teacher: Charles Dicken’s Hard Times – for Gradgrind’s now much-needed celebration of facts; D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow – for Ursula Brangwen’s struggle against her early child-centred idealism in the reality of St Philips School; and Alan Bennett’s The History Boys – for Hector’s role as the subversive teacher committed to knowledge.

I hope I have produced a list of books, displayed here in alphabetical order, that are held to be important by today’s teachers. I make no apology for including the book I wrote with Kathryn Ecclestone, The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education because it is an influential critical work that has produced considerable controversy. If you disagree with this, or any other of my choices, please add your alternative “canonical” books on education.

Michael W. Apple – Official Knowledge: Democratic Education in a Conservative Age (1993)

Hannah Arendt – Between Past and Future (1961), for the essay “The Crisis in Education” (1958)

Matthew Arnold – Culture and Anarchy (1867-9)

Robin Barrow – Giving Teaching Back to the Teachers (1984)

Tom Bentley – Learning Beyond The Classroom: Education for a Changing World (1998)

Allan Bloom – The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (1987)

Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron – Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (1977)

Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis – Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life (1976)

Jerome Bruner – The Process of Education (1960)

John Dewey – Democracy and Education (1916)

Margaret Donaldson – Children’s Minds (1978)

JWB Douglas – The Home and the School (1964)

Kathryn Ecclestone and Dennis Hayes – The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education (2008)

Harold Entwistle – Antonio Gramsci: Conservative Schooling for Radical Politics (1979).

Paulo Freire – Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968/1970)

Frank Furedi – Wasted: Why Education Isn’t Educating (2009)

Helene Guldberg – Reclaiming Childhood (2009)

ED Hirsch Jnr. – The Schools We Need And Why We Don’t Have Them (1999)

Paul H Hirst – Knowledge and the Curriculum (1974) For the essay which appears as Chapter 3 ‘Liberal Education and the Nature of Knowledge’ (1965)

John Holt – How Children Fail (1964)

Eric Hoyle – The Role of the Teacher (1969)

James Davison Hunter – The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age without Good or Evil (2000)

Ivan Illich – Deschooling Society (1971)

Nell Keddie (Ed.) – Tinker, Taylor: The Myth of Cultural Deprivation (1973)

John Locke – Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1692)

John Stuart Mill – Autobiography (1873)

Sybil Marshall – An Experiment in Education (1963)

Alexander Sutherland Neil – Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing (1960)

John Henry Newman – The Idea of a University (1873)

Michael Oakeshott – The Voice of Liberal Learning (1989) In particular for the essay “Education: The Engagement and Its Frustration” (1972)

Anthony O’ Hear – Education, Society and Human Nature: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1981)

Richard Stanley Peters – Ethics and Education (1966)

Melanie Phillips – All Must Have Prizes (1996)

Plato – The Republic (366BC?)

Plato – Protagoras (390BC?) and Meno (387BC?)

Neil Postman – The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School (1995)

Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner – Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969)

Herbert Read – Education Through Art (1943)

Carl Rogers – Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become (1969)

book writer education

Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Émile or “on education” (1762)

Bertrand Russell – On Education (1926)

Israel Scheffler – The Language of Education (1960)

Brian Simon – Does Education Matter? (1985) Particularly for the paper “Why No Pedagogy in England?” (1981)

JW Tibble (Ed.) – The Study of Education (1966)

Lev Vygotsky – Thought and Language (1934/1962)

Alfred North Whitehead – The Aims of Education and other essays (1929)

Paul E. Willis – Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs (1977)

Alison Wolf – Does Education Matter? Myths about Education and Economic Growth (2002)

Michael FD Young (Ed) – Knowledge and Control: New Directions for the Sociology of Education (1971)

Michael FD Young – Bringing Knowledge Back In: From Social Constructivism to Social Realism in the Sociology of Education (2007)

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Educated: A Memoir

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Educated: A Memoir Hardcover – February 20, 2018

  • Print length 352 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Random House
  • Publication date February 20, 2018
  • Dimensions 6.3 x 1.1 x 6.5 inches
  • ISBN-10 0099511029
  • ISBN-13 978-0399590504
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  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 0399590501
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House; First Edition (February 20, 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0099511029
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0399590504
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 870L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.31 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.3 x 1.1 x 6.5 inches
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Tara westover.

Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for a decade. She graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

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book writer education

Ursula K. Le Guin on How to Become a Writer

(step one: write).

This first appeared in Lit Hub’s  Craft of Writing  newsletter— sign up here .

How do you become a writer? Answer: you write.

It’s amazing how much resentment and disgust and evasion this answer can arouse. Even among writers, believe me. It is one of those Horrible Truths one would rather not face.

The most frequent evasive tactic is for the would-be writer to say, But before I have anything to say, I must get experience.

Well, yes; if you want to be a journalist. But I don’t know anything about journalism, I’m talking about fiction. And of course fiction is made out of experience, your whole life from infancy on, everything you’ve thought and done and seen and read and dreamed. But experience isn’t something you go and get—it’s a gift, and the only prerequisite for receiving it is that you be open to it. A closed soul can have the most immense adventures, go through a civil war or a trip to the moon, and have nothing to show for all that “experience”; whereas the open soul can do wonders with nothing. I invite you to meditate on a pair of sisters. Emily and Charlotte. Their life experience was an isolated vicarage in a small, dreary English village, a couple of bad years at a girls’ school, another year or two in Brussels, which is surely the dullest city in all Europe, and a lot of housework. Out of that seething mass of raw, vital, brutal, gutsy Experience they made two of the greatest novels ever written: Jane Eyre  and  Wuthering Heights .

Now, of course they were writing from experience; writing about what they knew, which is what people always tell you to do; but what was their experience? What was it they knew? Very little about “life.” They knew their own souls, they knew their own minds and hearts; and it was not a knowledge lightly or easily gained. From the time they were seven or eight years old, they wrote, and thought, and learned the landscape of their own being, and how to describe it. They wrote with the imagination, which is the tool of the farmer, the plow you plow your own soul with. They wrote from inside, from as deep inside as they could get by using all their strength and courage and intelligence. And that is where books come from. The novelist writes from inside.

I’m rather sensitive on this point, because I write science fiction, or fantasy, or about imaginary countries, mostly—stuff that, by definition, involves times, places, events that I could not possibly experience in my own life. So when I was young and would submit one of these things about space voyages to Orion or dragons or something, I was told, at extremely regular intervals, “You should try to write about things you know about.” And I would say, But I do; I know about Orion, and dragons, and imaginary countries. Who do you think knows about my own imaginary countries, if I don’t?

But they didn’t listen, because they don’t understand, they have it all backward. They think an artist is like a roll of photographic film, you expose it and develop it and there is a reproduction of Reality in two dimensions. But that’s all wrong, and if any artist tells you, “I am a camera,” or “I am a mirror,” distrust them instantly, they’re fooling you, pulling a fast one. Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.

OK, how do you go about getting at that truth? You want to tell the truth. You want to be a writer. So what do you do?

Honestly, why do people ask that question? Does anybody ever come up to a musician and say, Tell me, tell me—how should I become a tuba player? No! It’s too obvious. If you want to be a tuba player you get a tuba, and some tuba music. And you ask the neighbors to move away or put cotton in their ears. And probably you get a tuba teacher, because there are quite a lot of objective rules and techniques both to written music and to tuba performance. And then you sit down and you play the tuba, every day, every week, every month, year after year, until you are good at playing the tuba; until you can—if you desire—play the truth on the tuba.

It is exactly the same with writing. You sit down and you do it, and you do it, and you do it, until you have learned how to do it.

Of course, there are differences. Writing makes no noise, except groans, and it can be done anywhere, and it is done alone.

It is the experience or premonition of that loneliness, perhaps, that drives a lot of young writers into this search for rules. I envy musicians very much, myself. They get to play together, their art is largely communal; and there are rules to it, an accepted body of axioms and techniques, which can be put into words or at least demonstrated, and so taught. Writing cannot be shared, nor can it be taught as a technique, except on the most superficial level. All a writer’s real learning is done alone, thinking, reading other people’s books, or writing—practicing. A really good writing class or workshop can give us some shadow of what musicians have all the time—the excitement of a group working together, so that each member outdoes himself—but what comes out of that is not a collaboration, a joint accomplishment, like a string quartet or a symphony performance, but a lot of totally separate, isolated works, expressions of individual souls. And therefore there are no rules, except those each individual makes up.

I know. There are lots of rules. You find them in the books about The Craft of Fiction and The Art of the Short Story and so on. I know some of them. One of them says: Never begin a story with dialogue! People won’t read it; here is somebody talking and they don’t know who and so they don’t care, so—Never begin a story with dialogue.

Well, there is a story I know, it begins like this:

“ Eh bien, mon prince!  so Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family!”

It’s not only a dialogue opening, the first four words are in  French , and it’s not even a French novel. What a horrible way to begin a book! The title of the book is  War and Peace .

There’s another Rule I know: introduce all the main characters early in the book. That sounds perfectly sensible, mostly I suppose it is sensible, but it’s not a rule, or if it is somebody forgot to tell it to Charles Dickens. He didn’t get Sam Weller into  The Pickwick Papers for ten chapters—that’s five months, since the book was coming out as a serial in installments.

Now, you can say, All right, so Tolstoy can break the rules, so Dickens can break the rules, but they’re geniuses; rules are made for geniuses to break, but for ordinary, talented, not-yet-professional writers to follow, as guidelines.

And I would accept this, but very very grudgingly, and with so many reservations that it amounts in the end to nonacceptance. Put it this way: if you feel you need rules and want rules, and you find a rule that appeals to you, or that works for you, then follow it. Use it. But if it doesn’t appeal to you or doesn’t work for you, then ignore it; in fact, if you want to and are able to, kick it in the teeth, break it, fold staple mutilate and destroy it.

See, the thing is, as a writer you are free. You are about the freest person that ever was. Your freedom is what you have bought with your solitude, your loneliness. You are in the country where you make up the rules, the laws. You are both dictator and obedient populace. It is a country nobody has ever explored before. It is up to you to make the maps, to build the cities. Nobody else in the world can do it, or ever could do it, or ever will be able to do it again.


book writer education

Excerpted from  THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT  by Ursula K. Le Guin. Copyright © 1989 by Ursula K. Le Guin. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, LLC.

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Home » Books » An Education in Service Management

An Education in Service Management

A guide to building a successful service management career and delivering organisational success.

An Education in Service Management – A guide to building a successful service management career and delivering organisational success.

IT is a business-critical function. It delivers experiences, stimulates strategic shifts, and protects organisations from theft, cyber attacks, and the related regulatory, reputational and financial impacts.


ITSM is a critical element of IT that is often misunderstood. In this book, the author and his network of associates demystify ITSM and help you understand how:

  • Working in or with ITSM enables you to build a career that spans global industries, locations and sectors;
  • ITSM roles vary from service desk analyst to chief technology officer or consultant; and
  • As a CTO, a CIO or an organisational leader, you can enable your teams to deliver exceptional digital experiences that delight your consumers, partners and customers.

Whether you are contemplating a career in service management or are working in the sector, this book will help you understand current trends, job opportunities, frustrations and progression. It also features contributions from industry professionals to show what their day-to-day service management role looks like.

Cardano Rarity

Numbered eBooks: 300

Number of Unique Covers: 6

Number of 1:1 Covers: 0

book writer education

Service Operations

3 Unique Designs x 70 Numbered eBooks = 210 NFT eBooks eBook Numbers 90 - 299 (70.00% of Supply)

Frameworks and Standards

1 Unique Designs x 50 Numbered eBooks = 50 NFT eBooks eBook Numbers 40 - 89 (16.67% of Supply)

Developer Operations

1 Unique Designs x 30 Numbered eBooks = 30 NFT eBooks eBook Numbers 10 - 39 (10.00% of Supply)

Earth’s Workflow

1 Unique Designs x 10 Numbered eBooks = 10 NFT eBooks eBook Numbers 0 - 9 (3.33% of Supply)

Publisher : IT Governance Publishing

First Publication Date : 2023

Author : David Barrow

Genres: Reference Work , Technology

Language : English

Word Count : 75,000

Format : DEA (Decentralized Encrypted Asset)

Read On : eReader dApp

Cover Art : Includes 4K hi-resolution book cover

Cardano Retail Price : 74 ADA

Cardano Policy ID : 47bab34e4ef7f36c2d900e8a19de64889fbf9fbd6b76921e3397d84c

Author Info

book writer education

David Barrow

David Barrow's career spans various organizations, including IBM Global Business Services, where he started working in ITSM. He holds ITIL® Master and VeriSM Professional certifications, earned recognition as a Chartered Information Technology Professional, and received a BCS fellowship in 2022. As a committee member for ITSM with the BSI, BCS, and ISO, David actively contributes as a passionate service management expert and a global presenter on digital transformation. He appears on podcasts l… Read More

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Florida school district bans book called ‘Ban this book’

  • Efforts to ban books reached 'record high' in 2023: ALA
  • One Florida district removed novel called 'Ban this Book'
  • This decision came even after review committee said to keep it

Cassie Buchman

FILE – Books are displayed at the Banned Book Library at American Stage in St. Petersburg, Fla., Feb. 18, 2023. (Jefferee Woo/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File)

( NewsNation ) — A Florida school district voted to ban a book about banning books in May — and the irony isn’t lost on those criticizing the move.

The Tallahassee Democrat   reported that the Indian River County School Board voted to remove “ Ban This Book ” by Alan Gratz 3-2, going against a decision by the district’s book-review committee to keep it.

Written in 2017, the novel is about a fourth-grade girl who creates a secret library in her locker filled with banned books after “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler  “ by E. L. Konigsburg is challenged by a parent.

“Ban this Book” was itself challenged by Jennifer Pippin, chair of the Indian River chapter of Moms for Liberty, according to The Tallahassee Democrat. Moms for Liberty is considered a “far-right,” “extremist” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, though its leaders reject this label. Initially, the group gained popularity by protesting COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates at school board meetings, before turning its attention to “combating inclusive education and LGBTQ acceptance,” the SPLC writes. One of Moms for Liberty’s main focuses is calling for schools to take novels off their shelves that they consider “inappropriate,” though they claim they are not trying to ban books.

Two of the three board members who voted in favor of removing “Ban this Book” were supported by Moms for Liberty in their campaigns, the Tallahassee Democrat wrote, while the third “yes” was by Kevin McDonald, whom Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to the position.

In an interview with the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida , Alan Gratz, the author of “Ban this Book,” said school board members banned the book precisely because of its topic.

“It feels like they know exactly what they’re doing and they’re somewhat ashamed of what they’re doing and they don’t want a book on the shelves that calls them out,” Gratz said.

Response to banning the book

McDonald said the title and theme of Gratz’s novel “challenges our authority” and refers to other works deemed inappropriate by school boards, including Indian River County’s.

“It not only mentions them but it lists them,” he said at a school board meeting, per the Tallahassee Democrat.

However, school board chair Teri Barenborg noted that the actual book does not depict or describe sexual contact. Gratz said his book doesn’t teach “rebellion against the school board,” but civic engagement.

“If that means opposing what your school board is doing, that means opposing what your school board is doing,” he told USA TODAY.

Florida Freedom to Read Project slammed the school district’s decision to ban Gratz’s book, pointing out the book review committee had wanted to retain it.

“They banned a book because it mentions other banned books,” the group wrote on X. “It’s truly absurd.”

Written comments by the District Book Review Committee were mainly positive and said Gratz had handled the subject matter well.

“The selection of this book as the first material this committee is formally reviewing represents situational irony better than any lesson I have ever taught,” one committee member wrote.

A document obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat shows that the Indian River County School District has banned more than 140 books after objections.

Book Bans in the United States

PEN America issued a report in April saying Florida is responsible for 72% of the books that have been pulled from the nation’s schools in the first half of the current school year. Most of them are about LBTQ+ identities, include characters of color, address race and racism, or “include depictions of sexual experiences in the most broadest interpretation of that understanding,” Kasey Meehan, Pen America’s Freedom to Read program director, said.

Legislation signed by DeSantis making it easier to challenge books in schools has been blamed for this, though the governor has argued he’s just trying to “empower parents.” Earlier this year, he signed a bill narrowing the focus of one law that allowed any person, regardless of whether they are a parent in the school district or even a resident, to challenge books as often as they wanted. The new law limits those without students in a school district to one book challenge per month.

Efforts to ban books have spread across the country, with an American Library Association report published in March stating that they reached “record high” levels last year.

The ALA  report found 4,240 books in school and public libraries were targeted for censorship in 2023, making for a 65% increase from 2,571 in 2022. 

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told NewsNation that number is the highest the association’s seen since it began collecting data two decades ago.

NewsNation digital reporter Safia Samee Ali and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  26. Are computers or books best for educating children?

    Commentators often pit books against computers as the best learning tools, but both are great in different circumstances. The debate distracts from the real problem in education— poverty.The ...

  27. Florida school district bans book called 'Ban this book'

    A Florida school district voted to ban a book about banning books in May — and the irony isn't lost on those criticizing the move. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that the Indian River County School Board voted to remove "Ban This Book" by Alan Gratz 3-2, going against a decision by the district's book-review committee to keep it. ...

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