Weekday Wisdom Episode 62
Do you need formal education before becoming a published author?
Today I’m answering another question from that AMAFeed I did a few weeks back. And today’s question is from Filip56. He asks:
What kind of preparation and education did you need before becoming a published author?
Well, Filip, you don’t actually need any education. It helps to be educated well enough that you can string sentences together. You need to be well versed enough in whatever language you happen to be writing in so that you can string sentences together, which form paragraphs, which form chapters, and so forth. You need to be able to write so that everything is coherent. Other than that there’s really nothing else you need other than an idea and a drive to get the project done.
That said, there are some things it would be really helpful for you to know if you want to be successful as a published author.
1. The Craft of Writing
It’s helpful to learn about the craft of writing. You can do that by reading books, taking classes, but mainly with practice, practice, practice. I’ve been writing since I was about four years old and believe me, I’ve seen the stuff I wrote when I was little. It was crap. But apparently, because I have been writing for awhile, and I’ve been consciously into it, and I love writing, my work was better than other people’s crap from that same age. I remember my fourth-grade teacher, Miss Beverly Proud, pulled me aside and said, “Carma, you are a good writer. You should pursue writing as a career.”
Fourth grade. I’ve seen what I wrote in the fourth grade. Not anything that was publishable. But apparently, it was better than other kids in my class.
Bottom line: There are self-education and practice. That’s sort of a “need” if you want to be a successful published author. There are lots of published authors, because it’s now really easy to self-publish, where the stuff they put out is not worth reading. And I’ve had to review some of these books. The problem with them has been that they you have a great idea that is inexpertly implemented.
If you wanted to be a successful author, you want to really learn the craft of writing. Here are some resources:
The Craft of Writing Education: Nonfiction
- Writer’s Digest Magazine
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
- Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts into Books by Dan Poynter
- Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
- Your local communicty college or Parks & Recreation Department may offer adult education course in writing
The Craft of Writing Education: Fiction
- Writer’s Digest Magazine
- Plot by Ansen Dibell
- Creating Characters: The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction by Writer’s Digest Editors
- Crafting Novels & Short Stories: The Complete Guide to Writing Great Fiction by Writer’s Digest Editors
- Your local communicty college or Parks & Recreation Department may offer adult education course in creative writing
The Art of Bookmarketing
Another thing you need if you want to be a successful published author is the art of marketing books and marketing yourself. You need to know how to put your book out there in the world so that people know about it and will read it.
There’s a lot of stuff that goes into that. Again, there are classes you can take, however, most of them are online. Traditional brick and mortar schools don’t usually teach bookmarking so well. But there are a lot of coaches (myself included) who are really good and many are offering online courses that can help you market your book. Most of these online courses are very focused on a specific marketing method or technique, so you’re going to have to round out your education on your own. There are a lot of really good books that can help you learn the art of marketing your book.
The Art of Book Marketing: Nonfiction
- Alinka Rutkowska has some really good free training, as well as paid coaching
- Daniel Hall has really good paid training in is line of “Real Fast” online courses
- Guerrilla Publishing: Revolutionary Book Marketing Strategies by Derek Murphy by
- How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
- Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book 1st Edition by Tim Grahl
2. The Art of Book Marketing: Fiction
- Judy Cullins offers marketing-focused book coaching
- Jackie Lapin offers book marketing coaching
- Playing the Short Game: How to Market and Sell Short by Douglas Smith
- How to Boost Your Book Sales: A Foolproof Guide To Marketing Your Fiction by S. A. Soule
- Fiction Book Funnels: How to Engage With Your Readers and Sell More Books! by Liz Froment and Lise Cartwright (Kindle only)
3. The Skill of Entrepreneurship
The third thing I highly recommend, and that is if you’re going to take it to the next level, if you want to earn money as an author, if you want to make a living as an author, you have to number one understand that the money isn’t going to come from book sales. It really isn’t. Most authors don’t sell more than a couple hundred copies of their books ever, let alone a year. Now some people do sell lots of books. However, regardless of that, you can’t make a sustainable living just selling books.
You’re going to want to understand entrepreneurship and integrate your book into a larger picture. And you can do this with both nonfiction and fiction books. I’m currently working with a book coach who has built businesses around both nonfiction and fiction books. That’s one way of doing the entrepreneurship.
I also know fiction authors who are making a decent living because they have things that are related to their writing. Sometimes they’re teachers. Sometimes they offer related writing services. Sometimes they have a mixe of fiction and nonfiction, along with other services.
In order to make authorship a sustainable source of income, you’re going to have to expand beyond the book.
The Skill of Entrepreneurship
- The Entrepreneurial Author: Achieving Success and Balance as a Writer in the 21st Century by David L Hancock and Jay Conrad Levinson
- Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Tooby Gary Vaynerchuk
- Authorpreneur: Build the Brand, Business, and Lifestyle You Deserve. It’s Time to Write Your Book by Jesse Tevelow
In Summary of Education for Book Authors
This episode of the Weekday Wisdom is way too short to go deeper into any of these three topics. But again there’s lots of information out there in blogs, books, and online courses that can teach you these things.
Circling back to the question: What kind of education do you need to become a published author? Not much. But if you want to be a successful published author, one who sells lots of copies of your books and makes a decent living as an author, then there’s lots of things you need to know. But most of it you can’t learn in traditional brick and mortar schools. You need to kind of go outside the box. Find coaches. Read books. Take online courses that teach you of the various aspects of marketing and entrepreneurship. That is my advice to you.
Think outside the box, because that box keeps you hemmed in.
Spread your wings and fly.
Because you — yes you — are capable of more than you know.
If you liked this video, please like it on YouTube. And, of course, leave a comment below on my blog. I want to hear from you. Was this video helpful to you? Do you have further questions that were inspired by what I talked about? Or maybe you have questions about other things I can answer. Please, put a comment below with your questions that I can answer in future blog posts. I want the Weekday Wisdom to be something that you value and look forward to watching.
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