Steps to Writing and Publishing Fiction

When You Know You are a Fiction Writer

You know you want to write. And you want to write stories, not technical manuals or advertisements. You want to write stories that give people an escape from their lives and that stir their hears and minds. You have a character and a situation you want to write about.

You want to be an artist with words. You want to paint beautiful pictures with words, that is, write things that form beautiful pictures in people’s imaginations. And these pictures will move. They’ll be a movie that comes to a satisfying conclusion.

This means you are a fiction writer. You may not have written very much yet. But you have a passion for writing fiction. And you will not be happy if you keep that passion bottled up to focus on “practical” things.

How to Know You are a Fiction Writer

Do you just want the glamor of having published a novel? Or do you enjoy writing stories? Is your head spinning with a story you need to tell? Can you enjoy spending long and lonely hours planning, writing, and revising stories?

If you are a fiction writer, you will want to write stories. This doesn’t mean you will feel like writing all the time. Sometimes, it’s a real struggle. But you will want to write, and you will enjoy it–despite the struggles involved in getting stories out.

Some of us were storytellers from about the time we learned to talk. Others discovered this calling later in life. Once you know you are made to write stories, you want to do it regardless of the age you discover this.

What to Do If You are a Fiction Writer

When you’re just starting, becoming a published and successful fiction author may seem like an impossible goal. It may feel like you’re looking at a mountain and wondering how you can ever get to the top.

Every long journey takes many steps. Your first steps may not seem like much, but each step gets you closer to your goal.

Write fiction

Learn about how to write it well. Read books and take courses on fiction writing. Experiment with different genres and styles.

Read fiction

By reading widely, you will learn what works and what doesn’t. By reading in a genre you plan to write in, you will learn what readers in that genre expect, what will surprise them, and what will make them mad. You will learn what’s typical of the genre and the best way to do a fresh spin on something.

Read both old books and new books. Reading new books helps you stay in touch with the current market. By reading old books, you will gain perspective on today’s styles and views. Old books can also be useful for research.

Know How You Like to Write

Do you like to make up a story as you go, or plan out everything before you start writing? Do you prefer to type your first drafts or write them in longhand?

Writers have different processes for writing stories. If you don’t yet know what works for you, try out different ones. You may want to use different ones at different times.

Know What You Like to Write

You may already have a genre (or more than one) in mind. If not, you may need to experiment with different types of stories.

Often, you can find your genre by writing what you would like to read. If you wish a writer would do something, maybe you should be the writer to do it.

I once tried writing historical fiction about pioneer farm families. That could be a good genre for some people, but I felt I had nothing to say in it. I’ve found I prefer to write imaginative tales with deep themes.

Don’t let the expectations of others influence you to write in a genre that isn’t right for you.

Some writers will chase market trends and try to write in some genre that looks hot at the moment. They risk writing a imitative novel and have it come out as the market for that genre is cooling off.

Learn about Business

Note: Nothing on this blog should be taken as legal advice.

Once you put your writing up for sale, you’re now a creative entreprenuer. You’re now running your own business. Learn about the legal requirements of opening a business so you can have everything set up right from the start.

Learn how to market your fiction

It’s not too early to start thinking about marketing. Even if you’re far from being ready to publish, you can still learn about book marketing and start thinking about how you’ll do it. By learning about marketing before you publish, you’ll get a head start.

Figure Out Where Your Stories Fit in the Market

Your stories may be quirky and unique. But to market them, you will need to know which genre, or combination of genres, you are writing in. You want to know how to get it to readers who will love it, not to readers who will be annoyed because it wasn’t what they expected. For now, start learning about the genres and sub-genres your story might fit into.

Choose Your Author Name

Do you want to write under your real name, or use a pen name. Think about this before you find your self wishing you’d used a pen name for privacy, or before you find out there’s another author with your name and people are getting you confused with her.

If you want to use your real name, but there’s another writer with that  name, or the domain name is already taken, you might be able to put a nice twist on your name. You can also use a domain name like marysmithwriter.com or marysmithbooks.com, but that’s less than ideal.

Start Working on Your Website

Once you know your author name and have the domain name, you can start working on your website. Research the different platfoms to find out which is right for you. It can take some time to figure out all the technical aspects.

Network with Other Writers

Cultivate connections with those who write and publish books similar to what you want to write. These people can help you–and you can help them. You may find them in online or offline writing communities.

Keep Writing

Don’t stop, even when things get discouraging. Sometimes, you’ll feel it’s impossible to make your plot work out and get all your details right. Or you may feel like your books will never sell.

All the work involved in writing and publishing can seem overwhelming. Writers who run successful businesses wear many hats. Some of the tasks involved seem unsuited to our creative personalities.

Just push through these feelings and keep writing. Persistence is crucial to a writing career. Many now-famous writers were rejected numerous times before they were published.

After all you are a writer.

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