Sadly you don’t get to just sit down at your computer, write a book, send it to your publisher and then play video games all day. If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to do some work. A lot of work, actually. And none of that work even includes writing.
Here is a short and incomplete list of things you should be doing if you’re hoping to be a writer.
I know, I know…there are only so many hours in the day. Still, these are vital things you (and by you, I also mean me) need to be doing in order to reach some measurable success.
1. Read as much as you can, especially if you’re writing fiction
Reading takes time, but you have to take the time to do it. It’s vital to read popular books in the genre you write as well, just to stay current on the popular trends and also to make sure the novel you’re working on isn’t too similar to another one. I also think the more you read, the more you’ll be able to distinguish “good” writing from “bad” writing and find it in your own work.
2. Go to conferences and conventions
Yes, these things cost money. But they come with the territory. They are are a great way to meet other writers, make connections, and learn a lot. And you don’t have to stick to just writing conventions. Find local conventions in your genre. Most likely they’ll include at least a few panel discussions on writing.
3. Develop a positive online presence
Blog a lot, tweet a lot, spend time on facebook. Connect with people and build enough of a fan-base to cause a publisher to take notice. But be careful. Nobody wants to hear you preach about politics or religion.
Try to learn at least one new thing about writing or the industry daily. It’s not as hard as it seems. Pick a few blogs about writing and visiting them every day. Or find some podcasts to listen to in the car. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be breaking in.
5. Hunt down and connect with other writers
Here’s something you should never, ever, forget: Other writers are not your competition. They are your peers. The more you connect with other writers, the better off you’ll be. Share info and learn from each other. Bounce around ideas, share critiques. Cross promote and share guest posts.
6. Visit other writing sites or forums and leave comments.
Here is another way to get your name out there. Make sure you link to your site in your user profile so that you can drive some traffic this way. You might make some friends in the process too. Whatever you do, however, don’t go trolling. Starting fights online only makes you look immature and amateurish.
7. Spend like a hundred hours working on your SEO
You’ve got to be easy to find on the web. SEO isn’t that difficult. If your blog is on WordPress, take advantage of the SEO settings for both your overall site and the individual posts. Pick titles that will show up in search engines.
8. Hype your stuff
If you’ve got something to sell, try to get people to buy it. See if any bookstores, coffee shops, or libraries would let you do a book signing, for example. Put your books at the forefront of your websites. Just don’t overdue it. And never spam Twitter with automated “buy my book” tweets. They are annoying and they don’t work.
So that’s all I can come up with off the top of my head. I’m sure there are fifty more items that could be added to this list.
Leave a comment and let me know which ones I missed.