It is true that published authors have other skills besides their ability to write well. The important thing is that getting published is not black magic – if you approach it like a business or a large project at work where you really want to succeed, you see the big picture and pay attention to multiple elements that come into play.
A published book or a whole writing career, however, is built on writing skills. Some authors learn the craft at work as they write instructions, product descriptions, web pages, or anything that requires planning for an audience and creating a structure for the piece. Other writers begin by taking writing lessons – if you do, it is highly recommended to take a course that includes multiple genres, such as non-fiction, theater, fiction, travel and articles for magazines.
With this in mind, let me summarize Lifehacker’s excellent article on starting a writing career. Here are the skills Lifehacker considers to be important for a writer to succeed.
– Network with other writers and professionals in the business.
– Use social media as your networking platform and to build follow-up.
– Ask around for writing opportunities and what book publishers are looking for.
– Use the experience and skills you already have to find your own place in the world of writing. For instance, if you like the great outdoors and photography, have you ever considered travel writing?
– Adapt to the changing world and new requirements. For instance, today it is becoming common that publishers expect writers to take their own photographs and video clips for an article and for a book manuscript.
– Brand yourself. Branding is often a misunderstood concept, but in this context it is important to be professional and consistent within the chosen brand.
– Learn about search engine optimization (SEO).
– Market your articles and posts to web publications (both paying and non-paying guest posts).
– Show your work, you never know who’ll see it.
– Welcome criticism – both good and bad.
– Typically, it takes time to learn the craft of writing, but it also takes time to break through.