Your 5-Step Guide on How to Become an Author in 2022

by Ameesha Smith-Green

So, 2022 is the year you’re going to become an author, right? Whether you set a New Year’s Resolution to write more or a goal to become a published author, it can seem daunting and you might not know where to start or how to reach the point of having a printed book in front of you. Have no fear — we’ve put together a simple guide for you to become an author in 2022.

Step 1: Planning

While it’s tempting to sit down and just start writing, it’s much easier and you’re more likely to stick to the habit if you have a plan. So, before you crack open that Word document, think about:

  • What are you going to be writing about?
  • What’s your structure or plot?
  • Who exactly are you writing for?
  • What do your readers want?
  • How long will the book be?
  • How many chapters will it include and how long will they be?
  • What’s a captivating opening and ending?

You might want to create a brainstorm or mind map, draw a reader avatar, or create a timeline.

Step 2: Writing

When you’re organised and ready, then it’s time to start writing. Some aspiring authors ask other writers how they stay focused, but it’s really about figuring out what works for you personally. Think about:

  • Do you prefer silence, background noise, or music?
  • Do you prefer to write a little every day or a lot once or twice a week?
  • Are you more motivated to write in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, or at night?
  • Are you better when typing on your laptop, writing notes on your phone, or audio-narrating?
  • Do you need rewards to motivate you to write?
  • Do you need to put away distractions such as your phone?
  • Are you better when you set yourself deadlines or targets?

You might want to keep track of your progress using a diary, the classic “pot of paperclips” technique, or Post-It notes.

Step 3: Editing

When you’ve written the first draft, you might be tempted to do something with it immediately, but it’s better to put it away for at least a few weeks without looking or thinking about it. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and do some thorough editing. The time away will help you gain some objectivity. It’s time to think about:

  • Can you get independent feedback from your target audience, such as beta readers?
  • Can you afford to hire an editor experienced in your genre to give you informed feedback?
  • Have you been brutal enough in your editing?
  • Do you want to put it away for another few weeks and do more editing?

Note that you may need to hire an editor(s), designer(s), and proofreader(s) if you decide to self-publish (we can help with that). If you land a traditional publishing deal, they will assign a team to work on your book.

Step 4: Publishing

You don’t need to wait until you’ve finished editing to consider your publishing options (in fact, it’s better if you consider this during the planning stage), but you do need to get serious about your path at this point. Your options are: traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing, or vanity publishing (you can find out more about each of these options here). Think about:

  • Do you want to see your book in physical bookshops?
  • Do you want to be eligible to win major book awards?
  • Are you prepared to write a query letter or book proposal and pitch to agents/publishers?
  • Are you happy waiting months to see if you can land a publishing deal?
  • Are you happy waiting potentially two to three years to see your book traditionally published?
  • Are you prepared to spend time understanding the self-publishing process?
  • Can you afford to hire a team if you self-publish?
  • Do you understand the risks and dangers of vanity publishing?

You might want to try getting a traditional publishing deal at first and self-publish if you don’t bag a deal, or you might decide to self-publish from the start.

Step 5: Marketing

Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish, marketing is part of an author’s role these days. With self-publishing, marketing is crucial because there are millions of books self-published every year. However, even big publishers will expect you to do some of the marketing legwork. Importantly, your marketing should start long before you publish the book and run concurrently to other processes such as editing. Think about:

  • Do you have a marketing plan?
  • Have you got a pricing plan?
  • When will you start marketing?
  • Can you get some assistance with marketing from friends?
  • Can you afford to hire a marketer who knows how to promote a book?
  • Can you get any traditional PR?
  • Are you active on social media?
  • How can you leverage your existing network?
  • Can you afford to pay for advertising?
  • Have you got an author website?
  • Can you create a mailing list?

You might want to spend time researching your competitors to see how they’ve promoted and marketed their books.

How to get started

This might sound like a lot of things to consider, but take it one small step at a time and you’ll get there. Break each step down into smaller pieces and tick them off a checklist so you can see your progress. Build a team of people to support you on your journey… whether that’s a paid team of editors and designers, friends and family to motivate you, or a writing accountability buddy. And when the going gets tough, remind yourself of the reasons why you want to become an author and why it’s so important to you. We’re here if you need us.

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At The Book Shelf, we help aspiring nonfiction authors bring their books to life.

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At The Book Shelf, we help aspiring nonfiction authors bring their books to life.

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