Writing is a magical journey that can lead us down paths of frustration, enlightenment and financial success…. Among other things.
If you’re like me then you love to write but you’re ready to take your writing from “Hobby” to “Career”.
Here is how to do it.
Step 1: Think about what you want to write.
It all starts with an idea.
- What do you want to write about?
- Do you want to do fiction or non-fiction?
- What genre do you enjoy writing the most?
If your goal is writing romance you need to settle into a genre to have the best chance of understanding what guidelines need to be met while writing your story. Also, if you continually produce work within the same genre you will gain a fan reader base faster.
Once you figure out what you want to write, think about who you want to be as a writer/author.
- Do you want to write in your own name or a pen name?
- Do you want to be visible as the person behind the name and writing or do you prefer to hide behind pictures of objects or animals and be as vague as possible about your personal life?
- Which methods are you comfortable using when it comes to branding yourself?
Step 2: Create a business plan and Set goals
A dream will stay a dream until you take the time to make a plan, set goals, and stick to them.
Once you’ve decided what you want to write and what kind of author you want to be you need to take the time to write up a business plan. You can be as casual or formal about it as you like, Just write it out. Why?
Because when you write out what you want to accomplish it becomes clearer in your mind. Less of an idea and more of a reality.
After you’ve made a career plan sit down set realistic goals for yourself so that you can make your plans a reality.
- Here is a template of a business plan by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. The article attached to the business plan template is The 7 Step Business Plan For Writers on JaneFriedman.com
Step 3: Create a website/blog/social media accounts
Your next step is to create a website and social media accounts that you will use to reach your writing connections, fans and followers.
I can hear some of you say, “Um, but Darla, shouldn’t I actually write the book first?”
I’m not kidding.
Don’t you dare toil away at a book for a year and never make any connections with readers and other writers.
During the time you are writing your MS is the best time to start reaching out to the writing world.
Make that website (even though you don’t have books out yet), create those social media accounts and start engaging.
Here are some Youtube Tutorial Videos I used to help me through the process: New Author Publishing: Publishing 101
If you are still hesitant to do this, thinking that no one is going to listen to what you have to say, think again. Just keep in mind,
“If you build it…they will come!”
Juggling writing and your author platform can be very difficult to get the hang of. Try
- Making daily or weekly check lists so you can keep track of the things you need to accomplish.
- If you’re writing a blog create a blogging schedule so you’re never lost on what to write next. (Also if you consistently produce blog posts on a schedule readers can follow you will increase your followers/subscribers)
- Create a list or at least a general idea of what you want to produce on your social media accounts. Have a plan will help your followers know what to expect from you which in turn will make the connection deeper.
- Break up huge projects into manageable pieces so that you stay motivated and not get overwhelmed.
- Create a timeline of the important things you need to get done. That way you don’t miss important events and you can better plan your marketing out.
Here is an article I wrote A Weekly Writer’s Schedule that gives an example of a full time stay-at-home writer’s schedule.
Step 4: Write that book!
Ok, so now you’ve got your idea, you’ve decided what kind of genre you fit in and what kind of author you want to be and you’ve created your author website/ blog and social media accounts. What’s next?
You need to finally start writing that book. But wait…not so fast. There is another question to ask yourself.
Are you a “punster” or a “plotter”? If you are a panster best of luck to you and skip to # . If you are a plotter then you need to do the following:
- Do some research to figure out what your genre expects in the form of word count, plots, romance, etc…
- Create an outline (as detailed or brief as you like) to guide you through your brainstorming process.
- Create character profile sheets to help flesh out the characters in your story. It’s easier to come up with strong well written scenes when you know who your characters are.
- Make sure your plot points connect before you spend hours, days, months or god forbid, years on writing something that doesn’t even make sense.
Here are some articles I wrote on this subject:
Now is the time to write. Write to your heart’s content. Carve out specific time to write every day. Either set a word count goal, a chapter goal or just a time goal. But set it and do it.
Nothing is going to get done if you don’t sit down and actually write the darn thing.
While writing your first draft do not correct any spelling or grammar mistakes, don’t go back and proofread or critique what’s already been written. Just write and get it all out. It will be crap but that’s OK.
Don’t forget to make connections in the writing world.
- Research the important people and organizations in the genre you are writing in.
- Connect with them on the internet and through social media.
- Take time each day to post good content on your social media accounts and on your website.
People will not know you exist unless you shout it out.
“I’m here, I’m here look what I have to offer.”
Try joining organizations and find writing groups with people who are similar to your writing and/or experience.
When thinking about how to market your story ask yourself the following:
- What are the exciting elements of my story?
- What makes my story stand out?
- Does my story fall into any popular niches? And if so, how do I use that gain more attention?
- What would make people want to recommend my book?
After your first draft is done, read it. It’s going to suck and you’re going to think you wasted all this time just to find out you can’t write.
Don’t give up.
It’s going to get better. Read the manuscript all the way through. Don’t make any notations or corrections. Just read it. Then walk away from it. Ignore it for a week. Let it stew in your brain. If during that week you come up with ideas to make it better, write those ideas down but don’t touch the MS.
Step 5: Revisions, Connections and Classes
After you’ve been away from the MS for a week go back and either print it out or mark corrections inside the document. Be critical. Don’t focus so much on grammatical errors but on errors in story structure. If something sucks “X” it out.
Tip: Don’t make these corrections in the original document. You should save every version of your MS so that in case you decide something was better you can go back and retrieve that easily.
Make sure your plot points make sense and your story moves along without sagging in the middle or going completely off course.
This is revision process #1.
During revision process #1 you should have a strong idea of what your story is about, who your characters are and the look and feel of the story.
Now is the time to start talking about it in a more concrete way to your writing friends, contacts and followers. Don’t just say Hey, I’m writing this story…
- Give the story a name. Make sure your working title reflects the genre you are writing in and what the story is all about.
- Write out a catchy “book blurb”
- Create promotional material (like graphics about your characters, graphics about your story, etc…)
- Create a book cover to give your readers an idea of what the story will “look” like.
- Share information about your story consistently on your website and through your social media accounts.
After you are done with Revision #1 Go back and look for grammatical errors.
This is also a good time to slip in some writing classes whether online or in person.
After you have completed this last look through find a critique partner, group or website and send it out. Don’t rely on friends and family. You need someone who can tell you honestly what they thought overall and what areas they think you need to work on. Don’t forget to return the favor.
When you get the critique comments back, take them into consideration and look for ways to improve on the weak areas of your story.
If you are happy with your story and feel you have corrected all that needs to be corrected invest the money into having a professional editor and proofreader look at it. Believe me, you will miss something.
A well written MS has a much better chance than one a writer tried to scrimp on.
Step 6: Submit Submit Submit
Once your MS is as perfect as it can be you have a few options. You can say, ok I’m done and send it off to a literary agent or publisher or you can test it first in a competition.
- If you’re testing it out in a competition do your homework and find which contests would best suite your work. Some contests will be free and some will cost money. Just ask around and see which contests your writing friends recommend and which ones have the more rewarding prizes.
- If you are skipping the testing and going right to agents and publishers then the next thing you need to do is research which literary agents and publishers are looking for your kind of work, what their submission guidelines are and then submit it.
⇒Tip: To have the best chance of finding the right literary agent, agency and/or publisher pick up some of the best books in the genre you are writing for (books that read like your story reads) and find out who the publishers and agents where. Then submit to them.
While you are in the process of submitting and waiting to hear back don’t take a break. You need to keep promoting yourself and your writing.
- Keep creating great content on your website, blog and social media accounts
- Keep making new connections and growing the connections you’ve already made.
- Find opportunities to guest blog on websites or participate in group chats
- Do your research on what to look for in writing contracts so that when you receive one you aren’t intimidated by it.
If you hear back and the answer is a yes then you need to thoroughly go over any contracts that come your way.
Don’t rush into anything.
You need to get a clear understanding of what the literary agent and or publisher wants from you now.
You will also need to start thinking about how you want to promote your book. Unless you are a well known writer your book promotion will rest mostly on your shoulders. Don’t be afraid of it. Ask around and pay attention to what the other writers in your genre have done and mimic what you think worked best.
Step 7: Repeat Steps 1-5
Once you’ve sent your MS away you need to start thinking about the next story. Whether it’s a continuation of the first story or a new story entirely. You need to start outlining and plotting.
It’s best to create a file folder in your computer or designate a notebook to have all your ideas in one place.
Once you’ve got a solid idea you are happy with start writing your first draft. Don’t forget to promote, market and make connections the whole way through.
Friday @ 9 am “Being Plus Sized in the Workplace”
- Did you make a career plan or goal timeline when you decided to write a book?
- What tips do you find useful in helping you treat your writing career as something more than a hobby?
- Do you have any youtube videos or books to recommend that help guide your through this process?