By: Teresa R. Funke
I’ve been a professional writer for 27 years and have authored seven books, so it’s not surprising people often ask me the secret to having a career as a writer. When I really got to thinking about this question, I realized there were ten things all the successful authors I knew did on an ongoing basis. In other words, they never stop doing these things. Here are three:
- Invest in Your Career. Writers love freebies. And because many writers, especially in the early stages, don’t earn much income from their work, it’s tempting to cut corners. Don’t.
- Buy good equipment: a decent computer, a good printer, a tape recorder for interviews, well-reviewed writing software, etc. Invest in a desk that is ergonomically set up: an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, a foot rest, a standing desk maybe. You’re going to spend a lot of time at this desk, so make it comfortable.
- Invest in your research: buy books rather than checking them out of the library so you can mark them up and keep them handy. Pay for a research trip. Buy good tools to organize your material.
- Invest in your learning: pay for writer’s conferences, classes, coaches, etc.
- Hire professionals to edit your work, design your covers, create your marketing materials, etc. Understand that the more professional you appear, the more professionally you’ll be treated.
Set this goal: Each month I will purchase or set a plan to purchase one item or service that will move my career forward.
- Build Your Writing Community. Many writers are introverts and would rather just sit in their offices and write. Others are extroverts who feel too busy to network. But building a writing community is key to success.
- Learn to embrace networking. We work in a profession where it’s often who you know, not what you know.
- Join writer’s organizations, meet-ups, mastermind groups, etc. Start or join a critique group.
- Start a writer’s book club or social group so you can network in a casual and supportive manner.
- Team up with other authors to co-promote, write a blog together, review each other’s books, etc.
Set this goal: Each month, I will connect with at least one other writer in a formal or purposeful manner.
- Read. Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard this advice a million times, and yet I’m often shocked to be approached by people who want to write in a certain genre who admit they’ve never read in that genre. The most common seem to be memoir and picture books. Successful writers read in the genres in which they hope to write. And they read with no fear they’ll “accidentally steal” from those books or inadvertently mimic them. This seems to be the greatest concern among new writers. Nonsense! I’ve been reading and writing novels about World War II for more than 25 years and I’ve never lifted another author’s words. But in reading all those books, I learned a great deal about the war and gained a broader understanding of how to tell those stories.
- Make sure you read current books in your genre. When someone tells me they want to write a picture book, I ask, “Which picture books do you admire?” They often respond with books they read as children or books they read to their children two decades ago. You must read the current books in any genre to notice the trends in the industry, the changing forms in the books, the new topics that were maybe never covered 20 years ago.
- And learn to read like a writer. Take apart what works and what doesn’t. Ask yourself how your book compares.
Set this goal: Each month, I will read at least one book in my genre with a critical and appreciative eye.
If you’d like to know more about how to have a career as a writer, check out my paid webinar, 10 Things All Successful Authors Do at Writing Blueprints.com. Here’s the link. Best of luck!
Teresa R. Funke is the author of seven works of fiction for adults and children, including Dancing in Combat Boots: and Other Stories of American Women in World War II and War on a Sunday Morning. She is also a nationwide speaker, writing consultant, and the creator of the Self-Publishing Blueprint, the only tool you will need to self-publish with no regrets. You can learn more about Teresa at www.teresafunke.com