Thursday, August 18, 2016

How to Become an Author

 

by Linda Thorne

I may not be the biggest expert on this subject, but having gone through the process myself I have a little personal expertise. I made the decision in 2005 to become a fiction author. I’m an example of someone who should’ve or could’ve failed or given up, so my story may have some value to those who want to go this route, but are uncertain they can make it happen.

I was a late bloomer when I decided to write in 2005. My background didn’t hold out much hope for me either. My working career has been in human resources. A career in something like journalism would’ve better prepared me. I worked hard at getting a C in both English and creative writing classes in college. Next to math, which I’m not sure I ever passed, these two classes were my hardest. Why I suddenly decided to start writing would be a whole other post. If you’re interested, more information is given on my website in the biography section under How it Began at: http://www.lindathorne.com/bio/how-it-began/

Here are the steps to becoming a fiction author as I see them. Anything you choose to do will start out about the same. You must begin to act as if that’s who you are. In the case of being an author as opposed to a ballerina dancer or a tennis player, you’d:

  • Read good fiction. I’ve heard it’s good to read bad fiction too, but that didn’t work for me. When I read bad work, I wrote bad work.
  • Take classes and/or buy self-help books. Study the art of writing just like tennis players or ballerina wannabes would take classes and study their craft.
  • Have your work critiqued. None of us are adequate at judging our own work. This may hold true for those wanting to be ballerinas or tennis players. You need outside opinions.
  • Go to author events. Show up at writing conferences. It’s all part of the process to act like an author. Ballerinas go to ballet performances and tennis players attend tennis matches.
  • Keep your ear to the ground on what you need to do to succeed. Luckily authors don’t need to buy tennis outfits or tutus, but they do need to follow the author crowd.
  • Join local and national author organizations.
  • Submit your work all over the place. Rejection can sometimes give you the biggest hint on how close you might be, especially when rejecters send you encouraging comments or suggestions.
  • Don’t ever give up.

So, I’m not a famous author (yet) or have produced a significant amount of published material, but I set out to become an author and now I am. The steps are fairly simple especially if you add persistence to the mix.

Note: Friday August 19th, I'll be a panelist at Session 5 and also Session 7 at the Killer Nashville Writers Conference held at the Embassy Suites in Cool Springs, Tennessee. If you're attending the conference, hope you'll stop by one or both of my sessions.

15 comments:

Susan Oleksiw said...

Clear simple advice for the novice (or anyone trying to succeed as a writer). Nicely done.

Morgan Mandel said...

I joined Romance Writers of America and went to the Chicago-North RWA meetings. That's how I learned to hone my craft enough to get my first book, Two Wrongs, published. It took a while, but I learned a lot in that time.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you, Susan. Morgan, I've heard RWA is a great training ground even if you don't write romance.
Too me, it's like any other goal. You take baby steps and don't count on it happening in the near future.

jrlindermuth said...

Those baby steps count. Good advice for those still aspiring. Persevere.

Gloria Getman said...

Good post, Linda. You are so right. You have to see yourself as an author to be one.

Linda Thorne said...

Glad to hear from you Gloria. I remember you at all those meeting in Visalia when I lived in Hanford, California.

Susan said...

Great post, Linda - things every writer should know. And do, no matter how long they've been published. Wish I'd had advice like this when I started, back when the dinosaurs were browsing around the cave!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Good advice, Linda! For some it's much easier than for others--I'm in the second category. It took a long time and now I can't do some of it like I used to (traveling.) I so enjoyed Killer Nashville the time I went.

Carolyn J. Rose said...

I like that you ranked reading first. Critically reading and asking yourself "What makes this work?" or "Why doesn't this work for me?" will open up your mind and unleash an avalanche of other questions. The danger is that you'll find it more and more difficult to read for enjoyment.

Maggie said...

Great advice, Linda. I'm one of the ones who took a long time. I like it when you say writers should act like writers and should read. And keep reading. I don't read as much as I'd like to these days, but manage at least a little each day.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank all of you for your comments. I've been at Killer Nashville and just checked in. Nice of you to stop by.

Mar Preston said...

Well said.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you, Mar. I had fun writing this one.

B.K. Stevens said...

I enjoyed your post, Linda--lots of good advice. I'll add another suggestion: Keep a notebook (or a computer file) where you jot down every idea that occurs to you, whether or not it seems to lead anywhere. Every so often, I browse through my notebook, and several times I've been able to think of ways to use ideas I'd jotted down years before.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you, B.K. Good idea. I normally just remember in my head, but sometimes I forget the details. A notebook is a good idea.