Maybe you’ve been picturing massive worlds filled with knights and sorcerers since you were little. Maybe your life is bizarre and eventful, and it’s just too remarkable not to share. Maybe you have a story dancing in your mind that just speaks to you—that one romance, or mystery, or coming-of-age story that you can feel says something meaningful. There are all sorts of reasons you might choose to become an author, but the challenges you’ll face are almost always the same: where do you start honing your skills? How do you turn this into a career? And, perhaps most of all, how do you get published?
College is the All-In-One:
There are a lot of variables when it comes to authorship, but college combines them and fast-tracks them for you. By attending college, you can attain a versatile degree in literature, writing, marketing, journalism, philosophy, or communications, and any of these will be useful not just for your chosen career, but for any changes in direction you might make later in life. If you want to read broadly and strengthen your voice, the professors in your literature classes already know their genres inside and out, and they’ll guide you towards the perfect reading for you.
Meanwhile, your professors in writing have almost certainly been published once or more, and you might have at least one professor in marketing with connections in publishing; either of these can be part of your network if you build a friendly relationship. Lastly, most college degrees will require at least one internship of you, and they offer many career fairs and counselors to help you find the perfect one. College is definitely a big expense; even with grants and scholarships, you might not cover all the costs. If that’s the case, private student loans are an invaluable resource for you; many private lenders are available to suit your unique financial situation. If you’re determined to become a renowned writer, money shouldn’t stand in your way.
Your Voice is Your Brand, and Reading is a Vocal Exercise:
Hemingway wrote direct, simple prose that hides worlds of suggestions under the surface, and David Foster Wallace is famous for his never-ending sentences and tongue-in-cheek humor. Every great writer has a unique voice and finding yours is the first step to becoming successful in literature. Your writer’s voice is like a muscle, and it does benefit from working it out by writing, but the best way to nurture your voice is to read a wide variety of things. Read everything from Victorian novels to contemporary short stories to poetry; you’ll see those styles blending into your own writing, becoming a signature mix that no one else can copy exactly. The more diverse your book diet, the more you’ll notice your voice evolving, becoming stronger and more uniquely yours.
Internships are Your Best Friends:
Writing and publishing go hand in hand, and publishers love a savvy writer who already understands the ins and outs of the process. Also, the more you know about what your book goes through before it goes onto a store shelf, the more influence you have over that process. What design are you going for? Do you want it marketed a certain way? What demographic is most likely to enjoy your work? If you know why these questions are important, you’re more likely to get published and more likely to get published your way.
The best way to learn is to be a part of it yourself. Publishing jobs are high demand and short supply, but internships and always going around. Even if some internships are unpaid, they still provide you with the invaluable experience and knowledge you want to attract the attention of prestigious publishing houses. Try to get involved in as many parts of the process as you can, from editing, design, and logistics to social media and marketing.
People are Your Friends Too:
Make sure you save the phone number or email of your boss at every one of those internships; often, simply having someone you know will get you fast-tracked in the authorship world. Many publishing houses have a certain style of book they prefer, and having someone point you in the right direction can be invaluable. If you intern at a company that likes to publish your genre of literature, that’s even better. Your connections will speak for you. If you’re taking a class with a professor who’s been published multiple times, reach out to them and see if they’ll help guide you. Even when you’re a capable artist, knowing the right people makes all the difference.