So, you’re wondering how to become an author…
Exciting! That means you feel like you have something to share with the world. Maybe you’re sharing your business acumen, or maybe you have a powerful story to tell.
When we share our knowledge and learned experience, it improves others’ lives. The world will be better with your book in it.
But be warned, writing a book isn’t an easy process — which is why it remains just a dream for almost everyone (81% of Americans on average, to be exact).
There are plenty of things you’ll need to think about in order to turn your dream into reality: developing your content, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.
But with the right mindset, skills, and perseverance…you can make it happen. And in this post, I’ll show you the big-picture steps you need to follow to become a published author.
How to Become an Author: 9 Steps to Going From Thought Leader to Published Author
Step 1: Learn Storytelling
If you want anyone to read your book, you have to start here. Even if you have great ideas and a strong message to share, your writing will fall flat without compelling stories.
Here’s why: Storytelling is one of the most powerful motivators of human action in history.
Stories are the oldest form of history. They’ve inspired art, started wars, and caused people on the other side of the world to change their lives. Your story can make a HUGE impact on people.
So you need to learn how to tell it effectively.
And yes, this is the case even if you’re writing nonfiction.
Nonfiction books must have a strong narrative arc that keeps readers engaged.
To improve your storytelling skills, start by reading books in your genre and analyzing what makes them successful. Read widely and study the techniques used by successful authors.
As you read, pay attention to how the author develops characters, builds tension, and creates a sense of atmosphere. Look for patterns in content structure, anecdotes, and writing style.
If you want extra help, writing workshops, conferences, and online courses can help you learn from pros who have already done what you want to do. You’ll also meet other writers you can walk alongside in your journey.
At some point, you’ll need to practice writing your own stories. Experiment with different genres and styles. This will help you develop your own voice and style as a writer.
Step 2: Hone Your Writing Skills
Once you’ve developed your storytelling skills, it’s time to start writing. Yes, writing is an art, just like storytelling. And you’ll need to be good at both to write a compelling book.
One simple way to improve at writing is to write, and then let something like the Hemingway Editor or Grammarly edit your writing. Study what changes these apps suggest, and why. Then learn how to write like that.
Practice by starting with short-form writing, like blog posts. As you gain experience, move on to longer-form writing.
It’ll also help to read craft books and take online writing courses. If you want to take further steps, join writing groups or find a writing partner who can provide feedback on your work.
Regardless, you’ll want to consider working with an editor to refine your writing and ensure it’s ready for publication.
Step 3: Determine How a Book Fits Into Your Long-Term Vision
Your book will play an important role in your overall brand as an author. It’s a piece of a much larger puzzle. So think about how it’s going to fit into your strategy.
If your book takes off, it’s likely to be just the beginning.
Eventually, you could be sharing these messages from the stage, in an online course, on your website, and on a podcast. You could have a high-end mastermind where people pay you thousands of dollars a month to share your best ideas.
You can build an entire business around a single, great idea. And a book is just one avenue for that.
So, think about how your book fits into your business strategy. How will you use it to grow your brand or generate revenue? How will you market your book to reach your target audience? What stages could it get you on? What connections could it make for you?
Answering these questions early on will help you stay focused and ensure your book aligns with your long-term goals.
Step 4: Come Up with a Compelling Book Idea
Once you have a sense of how your book fits into your long-term vision, you should have a better idea of how to position this compelling book idea to fit with your goals.
Think of your book like a product.
Do research, talk to people, and figure out how you can provide value based on a need.
Look for gaps in the market or areas where you have unique expertise. Think about what topics or themes are trending in your genre and how you can put your unique spin on them.
Once you have a few ideas, test them out with your target audience. Conduct surveys to get feedback and see which ideas resonate the most.
This will help you narrow down your options and ensure you’re writing a book people actually want to read.
Step 5: Write Your Book
Now comes the grind. Either you do it yourself, or you hire a ghostwriter to help. But for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you’re doing it yourself.
One common way to write a book is to start out with an outline and a detailed table of contents.
This will help you see the structure before you start writing. It’ll help you decide where your points go, how to break them apart, what to say, and when.
As you write, don’t lose sight of your audience and your goals. Write in clear, brief, and easy-to-understand sentences. Use stories, examples, and anecdotes to make your points more interesting and clear.
And don’t forget that writing a book is a long process, not a quick one.
Take breaks, make sure your goals are reasonable and don’t be afraid to make changes as you go.
Take it one chapter at a time, and don’t forget to take breaks.
For more specifics on how to structure your content and book as a whole, here’s my mega guide on how to write a great business book.
Step 6: Edit and Refine
When you’re done with your first draft, you might think the work is over — and that’s where you’d be wrong.
You’re not going to use this draft without some serious editing.
Editing is crucial to ensure your manuscript is polished enough to survive out in the world.
If I were you, I would definitely work with a professional editor. They’ll be able to help you improve your writing by catching things you missed — and giving you honest feedback about what’s good and what needs work.
This is one of the best things you can do for your manuscript.
But first, you can start by reading your manuscript yourself, and making notes about what needs to be changed.
While you’re editing, pay attention to how clear, consistent, and natural the writing is. Make sure your writing is easy to understand and that you present your ideas in a logical order.
Think about yourself from the perspective of the reader. What do they need to know first?
Cut out any unnecessary words or sections. Make each word fight for its place. And keep in mind that revising is an ongoing process. Don’t be afraid to make changes or rewrite sections as needed.
If you get tired or discouraged, take a break for a few days or weeks and come back to your book with fresh eyes.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask beta readers to give you feedback. If you do this, be open to criticism.
Think about their ideas and critiques carefully. But also don’t lose sight of what you want the book to be. Don’t forget that you’re the author and that you have the last word.
Once you’re happy with the changes you’ve made, hire a professional proofreader to polish it from there.
This will pay dividends even if you’re trying to traditionally publish — because publishers won’t take your manuscript if it looks too messy.
Step 7: Choose Your Publishing Path
Now that your book is done, you need to choose how you want to get it out there.
People often say there are two main paths to take: traditional publishing or self-publishing (but there’s actually a 3rd that’s better in my opinion–more on that shortly).
Each has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research and choose the right path for you.
With traditional publishing, you send your book to a publishing house or a literary agent. If they like your book, they’ll offer you a contract and handle the editing, design, and distribution of your book.
But traditional publishing is notoriously hard to get into, and you may have to send your manuscript to dozens of publishers before you get a deal.
This path can give you more fame and a wider audience, but you may have less say over your book’s content and how it’s marketed.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, gives you total control over the publishing process. You can upload your book to sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo to make it available to readers all over the world and keep more of the royalties.
But self-publishing takes a lot of work and self-promotion to get your book noticed. You also have to take care of editing, formatting, and cover design.
If you’re looking for a mix, consider hybrid publishing. This method combines the advantages of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. With hybrid publishing, you work with a professional team of editors, designers, and marketers to create and distribute your book.
You retain creative control and receive higher royalties than with traditional publishing. Plus, you get access to distribution channels that are typically only available to traditional publishers.
When deciding how to publish, you should think about your goals, your budget, and your timeline.
Before making a choice, you should carefully look into each option and talk to other authors or experts in the field.
Step 8: Market Your Book
Once your book is out in the world, you need to start promoting it.
Book marketing makes the difference between a bestseller and a flop. Very few books have ever reached a bestseller list without great marketing.
To succeed, you’ll need to know your goals, understand your target audience, and create a strategy that takes those things into account.
The key is to find the tactics that work best for you and your book because not all marketing strategies work in every genre.
I recommend you start by building a following on social media and creating a platform.
Begin to build an email list by offering freebies like sample chapters or a different ebook, in exchange for them signing up for your list. Then use email marketing to sell more books.
You could also run ads on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram or on sites that promote books, like BookBub and Goodreads.
Reach out to book bloggers and reviewers and ask them to write reviews. This will help get the word out about your book.
Go to events like book signings, conferences, and other gatherings to meet readers and other authors in your field.
Again, find what works for you. You may have to throw a bunch of strategies at the wall to see what sticks.
For help with book marketing, I recommend checking out my guide to creating a book marketing plan and my list of powerful book promotion strategies.
Step 9: Develop Your Book Funnel
Once you have a plan for getting the word out, you’ll need to create a “book funnel” to get more readers and make more money.
Here’s what that means:
Your book funnel is the journey your reader goes on after they meet you.
Maybe they start by signing up for your email list for a free chapter. The next stage in the funnel might be a series of emails that teach them powerful new ideas that’ll make their life better — followed by a sales pitch for your book.
Your book funnel is a set of marketing and sales strategies that should take a potential reader from discovering your book to purchasing it.
The goal is to turn readers into buyers and then buyers into loyal fans.
It also gives you the opportunity to sell more expensive products like coaching programs or membership sites to them, over time.
A great book funnel will make you more money per reader.
Developing a book funnel can take time and effort, but it can also be a powerful way to leverage your book and grow your business.
Remember — your book is just the beginning. If you want to do this for a living, think of yourself as a brand, and your book as a tool in your author toolbelt.
And I have a detailed guide that reveals how I created a 7-figure book funnel to help you.
FAQs About Becoming an Author
1. How much money do authors make?
If you want to be an author, know this: The amount of money an author makes can vary a lot, depending on things like the type of book, how well it sells, and so on.
Your publishing path, your popularity, and the effectiveness of your marketing strategies all play a role in how much you can make.
According to a survey by the Authors Guild, the median income for full-time authors in the U.S. is around $20,000 per year — while part-time authors make even less.
But if you find yourself in the minority of authors who can write a best-selling book, or even just multiple books that generate steady sales, you’ll make a lot more.
That’s why I recommend using a book as a vehicle to drive more business. You likely won’t make a living off book sales unless you’re someone like Stephen King. But using a book to generate high-ticket sales not only helps you make real money but leads to even bigger business opportunities.
2. Can I be an author with no experience?
Yes, you can be an author with no prior experience. While having writing skills and experience can certainly help (and is highly recommended), it’s not a requirement for becoming an author.
Many successful authors started out with no writing experience and developed their craft during the process of their first book. But just know, you’ll have to develop writing and storytelling skills to succeed.
3. Is it hard to become an author?
Becoming an author is hard, but it’s not impossible. Writing a book takes time, work, and commitment, and the process of getting it published can be difficult and competitive. Ask anyone who’s done it before.
But you can become an author if you have the right mindset, skills, and strategies. The key is to go into the process with a willingness to learn, grow, and keep going even when problems come up.
Become an Author and Share Your Story
Becoming an author is a challenging journey. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it can be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done.
Remember to stay focused on your goals, prioritize your writing, and be open to feedback and criticism along the way. With time and effort, you can turn your book idea into a full-fledged book, and make a lasting impact on your readers and/or your business.
If you follow these 9 steps to becoming an author and implement the strategies and tips outlined in this post, you’ll find the journey much easier.
But before you start this journey, you need to know that it takes dedication, persistence, and a willingness to learn and grow.
One of the most difficult things to figure out is publishing. And while there are many paths to publishing, hybrid publishing offers a unique combination of flexibility, control, and support that can help you bring your book to life on your terms.
With hybrid publishing, you can get some of the benefits of traditional publishing, like professional editing and design, distribution, and marketing help, while keeping more control over your book’s content, rights, and royalties.
And some publishers, like Best Seller Publishing, can even write your entire book for you. We’ve developed our patented Enhanced Ghostwriting process over the years to give authors books that are both well-written and actually sound like them.
Want to learn more about how we can help you–like countless other aspiring authors before you–become a bestseller?
Click here to schedule a call here to chat with one of our publishing coaches.