Let’s say you’re in college or your early 20’s and you know you want to be an author. You don’t know what your future book will be but you have that fire in your bones and you know that writing matters to you and that one day you’ll publish a book with your name on the cover. So… what should you do now? You most likely don’t know what the future book will be about, you are not yet an expert in something, and you haven’t found your “beat.”
If you’re determined to make a career out of writing, here are my suggestions…
- Get and use your library card.
- Avoid debt. Don’t let loan payments prevent you from pursuing your writing career.
- Every day: write, drink water, eat real food, move your body.
- Protect your writing time. Develop your craft.
- Hang out with other writers and readers.
- Identify what you admire about your favorite authors (both their books and the way they engage with their readers).
- Show appreciation to other writers for their work when it resonates with you.
- Try lots of different routines and strategies to hone your writing practice.
- Don’t get distracted by social media. Use the tool, don’t let the tool use you.
- Put your work out into the world.
- Keep track of submissions and publications in a very organized way.
- Attend readings and literary events.
- Set up a spreadsheet to keep track of contact information for anyone you may want to connect with in the future to help your writing career. Peers in writing classes, visiting authors you talk to, an editor at a literary magazine who loved your story. In 10 years, current social media platforms may have changed dramatically, but I’m pretty sure email will still remain a strong way to connect.
- Start your email list. It is the most effective way you can start building your platform today without spending money.
- Read, read, read, read.
by Crystal Ellefsen
- Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book by Courtney Maum
- Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by Nicole Gulotta
- Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living edited by Manjula Martin
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Poet’s and Writer’s Literary Magazine Database
- Jane Friedman’s Complete Guide to Query Letters
- Jane Friedman’s How to Write a Novel Synopsis
- Publisher’s Marketplace
When you’re ready to start investing some money in building your platform here are services I use and recommend:
Purchase your domain name:
Wordress website hosting (includes back-ups, updates, etc.):
- Google Forms or any free spreadsheet program to collect email addresses even before you’re ready to send an email (Free!)
Social Media Scheduling:
Invoicing/Financial Management program to keep track of writing-related expenses and to invoice for freelance work:
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