1. DON’T Try to Become a Writer Until You’ve…

I get it. You’re antsy. You’re ready to pen your bestseller right now. You’ve read or heard of writers who had never written a thing before and yet scored with a million-seller on their first try.

Throttle back. Those stories become big news because they’re so rare. Don’t bank on winning the lottery. If you want your book (and ) to go anywhere, make sure you’ve:

…Studied the Craft

There’s no need to write a compelling story by trial and error anymore. Others have already done it for you—and written books about it. So your best bet is to follow proven methods.

Great writers are great readers. So  to get you started.

The competition has gotten so fierce, you’ll do yourself a favor if you learn how successful authors write before you try to get a second look from a publisher. Take the time to learn what you’re doing. You’ll thank yourself later.

…Written Things Shorter Than a Book

A book shouldn’t be where you start any more than you should enroll in grad school when you’re a kindergartner. A book is where you arrive.

Start small, learn the craft, .

Do some journaling. Write a newsletter. Start a blog. Get articles published in a couple of magazines, a newspaper, an ezine. Take a night school or online course in journalism or creative writing.

Publishers are looking for authors with platforms (in short: audiences, tribes, followers, fans). So start building yours now. Any of the pieces above will start building steam behind your writing, and boost name recognition for you as a writer.

If you’re planning to start blogging, check out this post on creating an .

Bottom line: Work a quarter-million clichés out of your system, learn what it means to be edited, become an expert in something, build your platform, and then start thinking about that book or novel.

…Plugged Yourself into a Community of Writers

Think you can do it alone?

Then you’re a better writer than I.

Almost every traditionally published author I know is surrounded by a helpful community. How else would they deal with things like:

  • Frustration
  • Discouragement
  • Procrastination
  • Wanting to quit

I’ve written over 185 books, yet I often wonder whether I can finish the next one.

At this stage for me, community means knowing I can be encouraged by colleagues whenever I need it.

When you’re starting out, another pair of eyes on your work can prove to be invaluable. Ten pairs of eyes are even better.

. Find a mentor. Stay open to criticism.

One caveat with writers’ groups: make sure at least one person, preferably the leader, is widely published and understands the publishing landscape. Otherwise you risk the blind leading the blind.