How to Be a Professional Writer

Writing as a professional, for pay, part-/or full-time, meeting expectations of publishers and your readers is a great kind of work to get into and expand upon. You might become a freelance writer at home, or get a writing job, if you have the background, education and experience for it. It takes more than just half an effort to write a high quality non-fiction: article or book; or fiction: play, story or novel, or poetry that will sell. It takes certain skills that you may develop.


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    Do your research! See what's hot to read and what's not so hot. You must find (or create) a need or strongly felt desire to read your words, thoughts and mental pictures... Knowing what others will find interesting will make your writing better and help you to create "demand" for more! You would probably need to specialize in one kind of work and an area of real interest or knowledge. Once you've established the basics of your purpose for writing, then read good works of your genre (kind of written work) that have won awards, for inspiration and to learn as much as you can about what you should include in your work to create a product that is in demand, and you will "supply" the market with your skills.
    • Search online for some good suggestions on writing and publishing![1]
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    Choose your part of the publishing or entertainment industry to try to get your work published (or discovered): whether to write non-fiction: journalist, technical writer, biographer, science, social and philosophical -- or fiction: including stories, books. But, of course poetry, song lyrics, plays and movie scripts can be of either fact or fantasy.
    • Consider getting training and criticism of your skills in writing: Take college English, creative writing or continuing education classes, if you feel in need of help that instructors and teachers might offer. Practice writing, and get knowledgeable people to read it, asking for and accepting constructive suggestions and seek "literary criticism": it is not personal criticism. Don't be hurt or argue. Listen, smile, be agreeable and express appreciation. Maybe the criticizer is not up to speed about some market that you think is your niche; so, grin and bear it, if you are aiming at a specialty.
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    Become a proficient writer with marketable ideas. Improve your skills, develop techniques, choose your type of literature and produce your best product by doing many tricky and creative tasks:
    • Plan or outline your work: Whether it is a short or long work you need to have a purpose and a framework -- such as a setting and plot for a play, episodic story or book. Make profiles of some characters that will be in your story or biography, etc.; gradually create their different "roles".
    • Choose a definite audience (kids, "tweens", teens, young adults, adults, or mature citizens/seniors). Start writing what they will want to read!
    • Make sure every new sentence is worth the ink, linked together with what came before and after it so that they all form a "page-turner", a flowing work of language-art. There shouldn't be any useless (off topic) sentence in your works! Make sure to quickly get to your point and reflect some bits of needed details little by little.
    • Use dialogue effectively, if there are any characters: Let the characters do your dirty work (so you won't need much narration, and can avoid the sort of storyteller/narrating character who explains everything). Characters can explain lunatic-/brilliant-philosophies or introduce complex tales or drop bits of foreshadowing -- create conflict, argue and make mistakes that will need to be resolved: They can discuss their ideas among themselves. Talk with other characters and about the setting, using their dialogue to tell a large amount of pertinent information.
      • Begin to build each character's "part" and reflect on their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses in passing, not all at once.
    • Use enough information for your topic and your kind of audience, such as for: building suspense, inspiration, forming logic, offering self-help, the characters, romance or present your humor. Otherwise, if you don't give needed detail or give too much, readers will be disappointed, minds will wander, quickly getting bored, and will not continue to pursue a "miss-mesh".
    • Give hints, imply ideas, but leave some details to the readers imagination until more depth is needed.
    • Do not put too much details in at one time, or make them too perfect as stereotypical types of characters (unless this is a cartoon, or soap opera)! Some detail may be hints or color-in a mental picture; but some are just details of a setting of events, place and time period, if they matter or just are part of the texture and flavor of your work.
    • Use note cards, an index with page numbers, a detailed table of contents or "bubble map" (with kite strings between parts) to find where you put some event or thought, to change or add a new idea.
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    Don't be overwhelmed; so break up your product: Write in chapters, units, verses, stories, episodes or acts to make it doable.
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    Be patient when you write or try to get "discovered"; not all of the plan, map, outline or plot will come at once. It may take a few weeks, months, maybe a year to put flesh on the skeleton of the body of your creative efforts! Just know that once you've sown the words, you can eventually reap a wonderful harvest, if you tend to your sentences, paragraphs/verses, leading correctly to the climax or other goal -- then self-publish at your expense -- or seek a publisher!
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    Make the best use of your capabilities and sources. There should be no signs of halfhearted writing in your product. Everything should flow and have an impact on the reader. Edit your material, and don't be afraid to change some things to make it even better! A good idea when rewriting a chapter or a large section is to keep a copy of the old one, in case you find that the original writing is better than the new. Edit as many times as you need to, but not any more than that! Check for any spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. If you have too many mistakes in your work, readers may grow frustrated and throw the "nonsense" down!
    • When you're sure your creation is ready, be sure to make citations of sources and acknowledgements in a foreword, if you had any help or sources! You need to give credit to those who gave you or tended to your idea and not take all the glory for yourself (avoid plagiarism -- copyright violations)!
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    Copyright your work: See a copyright attorney. One common law copyright is established by mailing a work to yourself, which may or may not be a good idea. Copyright is a property right, created by the laws of a country that grant the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited number of years (which may be able to be renewed), with the intention of enabling the creator (e.g. the photographer of a photograph or the author of a book) to receive compensation for their intellectual effort. Copyright is called an intellectual-property right (as patents, trademarks and trade secrets are also), of any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete.[2]
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    Search for a publisher or publishing service online using Yahoo or Google to choose one to use. Make sure it's one that you like and trust. See whether there are any reviews about the publishing service you like, and read what people say. If the majority seems to give it a good rating, it may be a service you want to try! If not, keep looking for options of how to get published:
    • Seek a traditional big publisher. Write a great book, and query agents and publishers until you find one who is willing to publish it for you.
    • Narrow your scope to small specialty publishers. If you have a niche (special interest), look for a publisher who only prints books about that topic. Small publishers need works to fit their category: romance, childrens, historical, car and hot rod, cycles, computer topics, horror, mystery and such.
    • Self-publish -- pay a publishing service or copy shop to reproduce copies and bind your book, or go to a self-service copy shop and do-it-yourself. There are several variations of this technique which all boil down to pay for your own printing, binding and marketing out your pocket:
      • Publish an electronic book (eBook) -- Create it on your computer and putting it on a CD for distribution and/or online. Purchasers pay to download the file(s) as a "read only" computer file. You may publish and market your book online or on Kindle!
      • Publish on Demand (POD) -- Pay a publisher to set up your keystrokes/computer files, to be kept and copied off (like an ebook being put onto paper) for a fee, readying it to print the first copy (cost depending on size, and complexity of what is entailed). Once received, it is transferred to a paginated form on an automated system, which may also bind it, one or more copies at a time. "On demand," means printing one when someone orders it. If you want occasional copies yourself, you simply order and pay for them as any book purchaser must do, but you receive a percentage or set dollar royalty on orders.[3]
      • Vanity publish -- Create a bound book with cover art and your name on it, making only a few books to give away to family, colleagues, customers, friends and client prospects (and, perhaps, a few more to sell).
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    Market your product! Make a marketing plan. It's a good idea to join a writers' group, or to hire an agent or an experienced writing or publishing marketer to help you with this part. And you can, of course, submit your works to various publishing companies to try to find one that will publish it and pay you.


  • Only those who put in the last mile will reach the goal. Starting but never finishing doesn't count much.
  • Never give up! You need some talent, but persistence is the key.
  • Nature has a lot to offer. Look around for motivation and inspiration.
  • Try to read works by other good writers. This can also give you inspiration!
  • You can also take instances from your real life as it may add more spices to your work and later your work may be considered one of the bests because of it.


  • Be original. Never copy any other author's work.
  • Don't "flip-flop, shrink or faint" at the effort, or if someone ignores, "hates" or ridicules your work! Go onward.

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Categories: Visual & Written Media