how to become a author

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on how to be an author and make money. Read on to learn more.We at collegelearners .com have all the information that you need about how to become a writer for beginners. Read on to learn more.

how to become a author

How To Become an Author in 5 Steps (Plus Tips For Success)

There are many career paths that require good writing skills. If you’re passionate about telling stories, becoming an author may be right for you. Understanding the steps to become an author gives you direction on the type of experience and background you need to have a distinguished writing career. In this article, we explain what an author is, the different types of authors, how to become one and provide steps and tips for success.

What is an author?

An author is the creator of a written piece of content, such as a book, short story, article, screenplay, poem or play. It can also pertain to journalists, essayists and bloggers.

The terms “author” and “writer” are often used interchangeably but there are subtle differences between them. Authors typically have written an original work that was published. Writers, on the other hand, are those who participate in the writing process. In other words, an author is usually a writer but a writer isn’t necessarily considered an author.

Average salaries for authors

Authors can be paid in several ways but most commonly they are paid through book advancements and royalty fees. How much an author depends on factors such as the number of books published, the publishing method, genre/topic and success of the book.

The national average salary for an author is $41,837 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for writers and authors to grow 9% by 2030. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

Types of authors

If you’re interested in becoming an author, review these types of authors to help you choose a genre—or category—you feel comfortable with.

Fiction author

A fiction author writes novels and short stories with invented people and events. Fiction writing is typically narrative and encompasses a variety of different genres such as:

  • Literary fiction
  • Magic realism
  • Historical
  • Crime/mystery
  • Horror
  • Suspense
  • New adult
  • Fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Action-adventure
  • Romance

To become a great fiction writer, you must possess the ability to create storylines, characters and settings with your imagination all while making them relatable and engaging.

Nonfiction author

Nonfiction writers research and write books or stories based on factual evidence or events. They can write creative nonfiction, which is narrative literature that recounts actual happenings, or write in a specialized area of business or academic study. Nonfiction writers absorb and organize large quantities of information into a cohesive book or short story that’s easy for readers to understand. They must fact-check their writing points to ensure the accuracy of the content and the message they’re aiming to convey to their target audience.

If you decide to write nonfiction, you can craft things like:

  • Memoirs, autobiographies and biographies
  • Historical pieces
  • Commentary or humorous pieces
  • Manuals
  • Instruction or self-help pieces
  • Journalistic pieces
  • Philosophic pieces
  • Academic texts
  • Travel guides

Five steps to become an author

Knowing the steps to become an author can help you learn ways to expand your writing skills and tell stories effectively. Here are the steps—and tips—to become an author:

1. Educate yourself

While a college degree is not required to become an author, a higher education can help you develop the fundamentals of writing. Consider applying for colleges and universities with writing majors or disciplines related to your career interests. The experience provides you with samples that you can use to get an internship.

Consider an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, English, literature, history, communications, liberal arts or journalism if you’re pursuing a formal degree. You can become a freelance writer or reporter to bolster your writing skills and earn income while you’re in college.

Many courses are now offered virtually through colleges or online education courses. Some programs are designed especially for aspiring authors and include instructions for self-publishing your book.

2. Build your writing skills

Consider an internship with a newspaper or literary publication to help develop your writing skills. An internship may help you get articles published as your writing skills progress. Network with professionals in your college’s journalism or English department and with authors on professional networking websites to see if they know anyone seeking to hire an intern. Join the college student newspaper to show professionals the evolution of your writing and give proof on how your skills meet the qualifications of the internship.

Seek a full-time writing position after you graduate from college. Full-time work in writing may help you develop ideas for your novel or book and you can start working on it in your spare time.

A full-time position also allows you to expand your portfolio. A portfolio provides examples of your story-telling skills to show companies or publishers.

3. Master your author skills

Anyone can put words on paper. As an aspiring author, you want to take your writing to the next level. As you work on your writing skills, don’t forget to work on your author skills such as:

  • Telling authentic stories in an engaging, creative manner: Telling authentic stories lets you personalize your writing style because these stories are unique to you. An audience may take interest in your stories if they resonate with them and link to the main message of your story.
  • Conducting research: It’s important that an author knows what they are writing about. Whether it’s a crime novel, children’s book or a strategy for business, you must do your research about the subject. Readers will assume you know what you’re writing about and you don’t want to disappoint them.
  • Exploring other genres: You can learn a great deal about writing by reading. That includes books on writing but also reading anything you’re interested in. You could pick up tricks or styles you like or learn about a topic you intend to write about. You might find you like a particular format or genre and by reading more of that type of writing, you can hone your style. You can also see what genres or styles are popular or which publishers sell better than others.
  • Observing people and places: Many stories revolve around realistic characters and vivid events. If you observe real people and places, you can use those observations to help bring your story to life. If you don’t naturally enjoy watching others, you can work to improve your observation skills.
  • Being open to constructive criticism and feedback: Reach out to authors and professional writers for feedback on your content and how they’d improve it. Contact publishers to see if they will offer feedback on your stories and suggest changes you need to make for them to consider publishing your novel. Remember that rewrites and revisions lead to better stories.
  • Accepting that you are a work in progress: Write poems and short stories to expand your knowledge of different writing styles outside of novels. Practice at least once a week to identify how you tell stories from beginning to end and if it’s the right voice for the audience you want reach. Submit your stories to local writing competitions and publishing companies to get feedback on your work.
  • Setting a writing habit: Create a schedule establish a process for writing each day. This allows you to prioritize tasks during your day while making a timeline to finish your novel. Set an end date to know how many words you need to write each day to reach your goal.

4. Write your book

By this step, you should have an idea of what you want to write about. You’re ready to sit down and write. Here are a few tips to help you progress through this step:

  • Create an outline: You need to know the basics of how your story will play out. Think in terms of a beginning, middle and end. It’s a basic roadmap that will evolve as you get deeper into your writing.
  • Set a writing schedule: You can’t finish a book if you don’t write it. You likely won’t write it, if you don’t have a schedule. Set aside time in a distraction-free space every day to sit down and write. If you have a deadline, you might use an online word and page count calculator to know how much you write each day.
  • Complete your rough draft: Use your outline to help guide your story. As you write, don’t edit your rough draft. You want to stay focused on the story, characters and events. The editing comes later.
  • Self-edit your book: Once you finish the rough draft, it’s time to self-edit your book. A professional edit will be done during the publishing process, but you want to present a clean manuscript that can be read critically and without distraction from errors. Tips include reading the story out loud, chapter by chapter, to see how sentences are structured and the storyline plays out.

5. Publish your book

You’ve written and polished your first book. Now comes the challenge of getting it published. There are two primary types of publishing:

  • Traditional publishing: With this type of publishing, you write a book and submit it to publishers to see if they’re interested in it. If they are, they send you a contract and prepare the book for publishing through design, formatting and editing. The publisher typically handles all of the book’s marketing and distribution. Keep in mind that landing a book contract is highly competitive and may take many years and rejections to achieve.
  • Self-publishing: Many authors are choosing to self-publish their work rather than wait on a publishing house to accept it. With self-publishing, you write a book and begin the publishing process on your own. You are responsible for getting the book designed, formatted, edited and ready for publishing. After finding a publishing platform, you are then responsible for marketing and distributing the book as well.

Once your book is published, it must be marketed to potential readers. There are various online marketing tools to help you publicize your book. Other resources and strategies include:

  • Spreading the word on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Pricing your book to appeal to prospective readers
  • Creating an author’s website to let readers get to know you
  • Advertising on book promo sites like BookBub
  • Getting book reviews on sites like GoodReads or Amazon

Once your first book is published and the learning experience is behind you, it’s time to start on the next one. It’s important to keep publishing books to build a career as an author. Remember that the more books you write, the smoother your process will become.

how to be an author and make money

How authors make money

Yes, yes, we all want to write books that move people and change the world. But, uh, how exactly do authors get paid? Read on, friends. Here’s how authors make money.

In this post I’m going to cover all the different ways authors make money from their books:

  • Traditional publishing
    • Advances
    • Royalties
    • Subrights (through a publisher)
    • Subrights (direct)
  • Self- and hybrid publishing
    • Direct distribution
    • E-book distributors
    • Hybrid publishers

Note that this won’t cover other ancillary ways writers may make money like “freelance gigs” and “scrounging for spare change in the couch at your parents’ house.” It’s going to focus on the books part.

How authors make money through traditional publishing

Before we get to fun things like advances and royalties, let’s start with a word about literary agents.

In order to secure traditional publication, chances are an author will need to find a literary agent. Agents do not charge authors until their work is sold, except for ancillary expenses like photocopying and postage.

When an agent sells a book or other rights on behalf of the author, they receive 15% of the proceeds in perpetuity in the case of domestic rights, and 20% of the proceeds for foreign rights, which is split 10% between a primary agent and 10% between the subagent.

So when you’re doing your book economics calculations, be sure and lop 15% off the top if you work with an agent (which, you should. They earn that commission).

How book advances work

When a book publisher is interested in a book project, they will offer the author an “advance,” which is a sum of money in exchange for the right to publish the book. (Here’s more on publishing contract terms).

An advance is the author’s to keep regardless of how many copies the book sells, as long as the author fulfills the terms of the publishing contract.

Advances are typically paid in installments tied to benchmarks in the publishing process, such as signing, delivery and acceptance of the final manuscripts (D&A), hardcover publication, and paperback publication.

Agents will try to negotiate for the author to receive as much of the money up front as possible, but this will still typically result in a $50,000 advance being split up something like:

  • $25,000 on signing
  • $15,000 on D&A
  • $10,000 on hardcover publication
  • $5,000 on paperback publication

Splits on the advance vary wildly. Advances may also be for multiple books, in which case there may be further benchmarks as those books move through the publishing process.

A publisher will pay the advance directly to the agent, who will take their commission and send the balance to the author.

How book royalties work

Royalties are the proceeds from book sales, stipulated as certain percentages in the agreement. Some royalties are based on the list price of the book, some are based on “net amount received” by the publisher. Here’s what that means:

  • List price royalties – Let’s say a hardcover book has a list price of $25.00 and the hardcover royalty is 10%. This means the royalty will be $2.50 regardless of the actual price charged for the book.
  • Net amount received – In this case the royalty is based on the amount the publisher receives from the retailer for the copy sold. Note that this still may not relate to the actual price charged to the customer for the book, but rather is based on whatever split the publisher has agreed upon with the retailer or distributor. (For instance, if the publisher receives 50% of the list price for every copy sold by the retailer, the “net amount received” is based on the publisher’s 50%).

Royalties first go to toward paying down the author’s advance. An author only receives royalties above the advance after the book “earns out.” So if an author receives a $25,000 advance, they have to earn $25,000 in royalties and/or subrights proceeds before the publisher will pay them additional money.

Another wrinkle with “earning out” for multiple book deals is separate vs. joint accounting. Let’s say there’s a two book deal for $100,000.

  • Joint accounting – the author has to earn combined royalties/subrights proceeds of $100,000 before they receive additional income.
  • Separate accounting – the books are accounted separately so that one book might be accounted as $60,000 and the other as $40,000, and each book’s individual proceeds counts to that book’s earn out threshold.

There are many different types of royalties, including:

  • Hardcover (typically 10-15% retail)
  • Trade paperback (typically 6-7.5% retail)
  • Mass market paperback (typically 8-10% retail)
  • E-books (typically 25% net)
  • Special sales (definitions and splits vary)
  • High discount sales (definitions and splits vary)

Good agents have “boilerplate” arrangements with publishers for standard royalties by format. (Yet another reason to get an agent).

Subrights through a publisher

Royalty rates apply when a publisher chooses to exercise rights and publish themselves. However, publishers may also choose to sell certain rights to third parties who will be the ones to publish. These are called “subrights.”

Subrights are allocated as percentages of proceeds. So for instance, if the publisher’s territory is “world English” (worldwide rights in the English language) or “world all languages” (worldwide rights in all languages), a US publisher may sell publishing rights in the British Commonwealth to a UK publisher and the subright split would apply.

The author will then receive a percentage of the proceeds of the advance and royalties of that deal, which, again, goes first toward paying down the author’s advance until the book earns out.

Subrights may include:

  • Film (agents will try to retain these rights for the author)
  • Audio (agents will try to retain these rights for the author)
  • Foreign publication
  • Translation
  • First serial (excerpts published prior to publication)
  • Second serial (excerpts published after publication)
  • Merchandise, video games, theme parks, you name it

Sometimes agents may request that subrights payments “flow through” to the author when they are received, rather than being held to the end of a royalty period.

Subrights retained by the author

Good agents will try to hold onto as many rights as possible, especially audiobook and film. When the author retains these rights and the agent sells them directly on their behalf, the author does not have to split the proceeds with the publisher and instead receives all the money after the agent’s commission.

Many agencies either have dedicated film and foreign rights departments or work with film/translation subagents to try to place those rights.

These rights can be extremely lucrative, which is yet another way agents earn their commission. Authors going direct to publishers without an agent may give up too many rights and not even know they’re missing out on this potential income.

(Subrights may also be a way self-published authors earn income, but it’s rarer for them to sell these rights, which is why I have it in the traditional publishing section)

How authors make money through self-publishing and hybrid publishing

Self-publishing book income tends to be a bit more straightforward.

Self-publishing direct distribution

When self-published authors go directly to the platforms that are publishing their books, they receive a percentage of every copy sold.

Here are the current splits from some of the major platforms when you publish through them directly. There are some additional wrinkles, but here are the basic terms:

  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing:
    • Paperback: 60% of proceeds
    • Ebook: 70% of proceeds if it’s priced between $2.99 and $9.99, otherwise 35%
  • Audible:
    • Audiobook: 40% exclusive, 25% nonexclusive
  • Barnes & Noble Press:
    • Paperback: 55% list minus printing costs
    • Ebook: 65% of proceeds if it’s priced above $2.99, otherwise 40%
  • Ingram Spark:
    • Varies: See their comp calculator
  • Kobo:
    • Ebook: 70% of the list price if it’s priced about $2.99

In addition, Amazon also offers KDP Select, which is a program that confers additional benefits if you exclusively publish through Amazon, such as earning the 70% royalties in more territories.

Self-publishing via a distributor

In addition to going direct, there are also ebook distributors that will facilitate publication across many distributors. The two most prominent ones as of this writing are Smashwords and Draft2Digital. (These are also called “aggregators”).

These distributors will make your ebook available in places that may be tricky to reach yourself. It’s also easier to manage changes in one place.

Here are the current splits:

  • Draft2Digital: 10.5% of list price
  • Smashwords: 10% of list price

Hybrid publishing

There are many, many new publishing models proliferating, and it would be really tricky to capture them all. Many of these are now being categorized under a new umbrella: hybrid publishing.

Some of these models skew more toward traditional publishing and some skew more toward self-publishing, but you usually receive a royalty that’s more than traditional publishing but less than if you were to self-publish on your own.

Here’s what to know if you’re considering hybrid publishing.

The Independent Book Publishers Association has a set of criteria for evaluating hybrid publishers. Make sure the hybrid publisher you’re considering is reputable and offering a fair rate.

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