Rather than list some of the common suggestions for attaining success in your career as an author, I bring forward a few others not always discussed…
(1) Write for you! Yes, pick a genre and try to stick with it. But who’s to say you can’t invent a modification to a genre you enjoy writing? After all, the goal of composing a novel or some other creative piece is primarily to entertain readers, but also to bring satisfaction to you as the writer. The goal should not be to make a boatload of money. If this happens in the process, wonderful. If not, that’s alright too. You’ll always have some audience, even if it is a very small one. I think you can apply this to other careers as well. Would you rather make a ton of money or be stuck in a career that is unfulfilling?
(2) Take your time. Yes, you want to produce, and to write in a regular, consistent manner. Yet don’t neglect to take the time to carefully check your work, not just for spelling and punctuation, but also for factual errors. We live in a litigious society, so you want to do your best to avoid people suing you! Beware of copyright issues, too. Like patents, you work of writing is unique to you and you should ensure that you are not copying someone else’s ideas. Using the Internet is a great tool to double-check that you are not stealing content that is already out there in the public domain.
(3) Take a course! This piece of advice was given to me by my father, and I recommend it. Like any skill, education will further your ability to perform in a given area. You can learn a lot from folks who have already travelled ahead of you down your chosen career path. There are lots of courses in writing, for example from places like Winghill Writing School, where I took my novel-writing course. Since the Internet has taken off, it has made correspondence courses that much easier.
(4) Start small. I’ve found that like any endeavour in life, taking baby-steps is the best way to move forward. That is why I published The Factory Challenge and Energized, which is a book comprised of two short stories. This allowed me to break up my writing into two bite-sized chunks that were easier to bring to market than a longer work. Now that I have that experience under my belt, I have learned from my mistakes and published a couple of non-fiction books. I also have a novel in the works. Never be afraid of failure! It is only by making mistakes that you truly learn how to succeed the next time. You may want to consider submitting a short story or writing an opinion piece / article for your local newspaper. This will purchase credibility with your audience, get your name out and allow you to continually practice the skill of writing.
(5) Try your hand at self-publishing. You will, in all likelihood, have to hire an editor to fine-tune your book. I did this, in addition to having my wife help proof-read my work and act as a sounding board. Hiring an editor should improve the style of your writing tremendously, as well as your storyline content. A professional second set of eyes is always a worthwhile investment! Try looking up on your local, provincial/state or national editing association’s website as a good place to start your search for a reputable editor who is interested in taking on your work. Once your writing piece is complete, there are many self-publishing venues for you to take advantage of these days, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and CreateSpace. These can be easy, straightforward ways to market your books. And did I mention social media? It goes without saying that learning how to effectively use this technology is a boon.
(6) Sell your book. Depending on your confidence-level as a person, or in the quality of your writing product, this can be one of the most challenging and exhilarating steps along the writing journey. Feel free to approach both independent and chain bookstores with your book. Know that the chain bookstores will often refer you to someone called a “Customer Experience Manager,” who is specialized in liaising with self-published authors such as yourself. When you contact these individuals, carefully explain to them your background and any detail that would set you apart from the crowd as it pertains to your writing. See if you can secure a book signing! Take advantage of publicizing and getting the word out about your book in as many ways as you can! Word of mouth is powerful. You should use your existing social networks to promote your writing, and try to get a review in your local paper or community / work newsletter if at all possible.