How to Become a Published Author: Women Writers Talk Skills, Processes, Costs and Challenges

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Millions of people all over the world love to write and are also very good at it. But writing in your journal or diary every day is definitely not the same as becoming a published author with a good following.

Breaking into the publishing industry can seem daunting at first. You need to generate a good book idea, stick to a daily writing schedule, and find a literary agent to pitch your idea to a publishing house.

All of these can give you a headache if you try to tackle them all at once. But if you lay out a concrete, step-by-step plan and approach it methodically, becoming a published author is definitely possible!

We spoke with four female authors from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to learn more about the process, skills required, costs involved, and challenges to becoming a published author.

Skills needed to become a published author

A vivid imagination and a way with words is a must!” said Alisha Kay, author of “The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancee” and a few thrillers.

Being a storyteller and being good at it and the language you write in are prerequisites for becoming a published author. But there are several other skills that help ensure you have a well-received published copy of your book in your hands.

“A published author must have a sense of discipline. Writing regularly as a habit and staying focused on the story can help avoid writer’s block and produce a finished manuscript,” says Manvya V Kasi, professional IT author, who has more than 30 romance novels to her credit.

Once the story is ready, the author can hire an editor and cover maker before self-publishing their book. Presenting a well-curated book is of paramount importance as it sets the tone for the author’s reputation,” says Sundari Venkataraman, author of 58 books including “Tinder Loving Care” and “The Princess” series.

And if you don’t want to share your story, you’re not going anywhere. You need to show off and grab the eyeballs.

“You have to be ready to share your work with the world and have it published; you need to work on book promotions and marketing,” says Deepti Mittal, author of ‘Aao, Master ke Laundey’ and several other books.

“To get the word out about their work, an author needs to communicate and build relationships with readers, bloggers, fellow authors, and marketing teams,” says Manvya V Kasi.

“Last but not least, being able to accept constructive criticism is an important skill that every published writer must have. Not all readers would appreciate or like an author’s work. Focus more on positive feedback to stay motivated,” she adds.

Timeline and process to become a published author

As explained by the authors we spoke to, here is the step-by-step process for publishing your book:

  • Write your manuscript and edit it
  • Ask beta readers to check your story, they won’t edit your script but only point out gaps (delay: 4-5 days)
  • Meanwhile, get the book cover created by a cover artist, or design it yourself if you have the skills
  • Get feedback from beta readers, embed what you need, proofread your work, get it edited through a paid editor
  • Format the manuscript and upload it for publication on an appropriate platform where you must complete clear instructions
  • Different companies will have different deadlines for publishing books; Amazon has a 72 hour lead time

How much does it cost to become a published author?

Many writers give up on any dreams or plans of becoming published writers because they don’t know how much the process costs.

As Sundari Venkatraman explains, publishing on Amazon is completely free and you get royalties on a monthly basis. And there are also other smaller publishing houses gearing up to serve writers by releasing their work for free.

The main costs incurred for most published authors are for professional editing services, cover designers and marketing services,” says Manya V Kasi.

“For an average book of 75,000 words, the costs are Rs 30,000 for editing/proofreading and Rs 7,500 for cover design,” she says. Manya chooses her own publishers and graphic designers and markets her book via social networks.

Costs also vary in range.

“The cover charge can be between Rs. 1000-10000. The cost can range from 10,000 to 25,000 rupees for a manuscript of 50,000 words depending on whether it was well or badly written,” explains Sundari Venkatraman.

Note that if you have artistic skills, you can design your book cover yourself like Alisha did for her book.

Challenges to becoming a published author

As a writer, you may experience technical issues that can delay the timeline.

“An author should ensure that the communication and marketing plan is updated accordingly. Personally, to avoid such situations, I always choose to have my upcoming books available for pre-order, which helps my readers know when my work will be available,” says Manya V Kasi.

Another challenge is that if you’re a self-published author and your work isn’t up to par, readers will likely look down on you.

“Self-publishing used to be heckled, for certain reasons: lack of quality, use of poor language and presentation of a poorly written story,” says Sundari Venkatraman, recalling the start of his journey in 2014.

Regardless of the language one is writing in, I cannot stress enough the importance of writing correctly. A person’s language can be simple, but it doesn’t have to be fake,” she says.

Alisha says authors should remember to check if they own the rights to the images used in the book and make sure there are no errors as this could lead the publisher to flag it and delay posting.

It’s best for beginners to understand the whole publishing process using a sample file and then publish their actual script, suggests Deepti Mittal.

Also, don’t be afraid of rejection! “I wrote my first novel in the year 2000. After being rejected by 28 publishers and ignored by a dozen others, I became a freelance writer on Amazon in 2014. It took 14 years to to go from a simple writer to an author,” says Sundari Venkataraman.

Self-publishing platforms have reduced this waiting time considerably and the process is now much easier. So what are you waiting for? Write this novel and get published!

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