Apply To Be An Author

Whether you are trying to sign with a literary agent, traditional publisher, or going with a self-publisher, you need to take the approach as if you are applying for a job. The more you excel in areas that involve being an author, the better chance someone will hire you or simply believe in you.

If you understand the skills and duties that are associated with your craft, then you can better understand your strengths and weaknesses. By taking the right steps to improve and launch yourself into the publishing world, your dreams of being paid regularly as an author will come true.

Okay…you are an author looking to be paid a yearly salary. Anyone searching for a job should have this approach:

Industry Knowledge

I am putting this first, because industry knowledge is overlooked. You need to remain up to date on the latest publishing trends. Thankfully, blogs have made this easier. Join groups that actually give out information to keep you updated.

Build Contact List

The old school way of building a contact list was through networking meetings and attending writing conferences. That is still important, but social media has saved authors time and money. Just remember your list is only valuable if the contact knows who you are. Make sure you do a quick introduction. (See below for more on how to build your social media contact list.)

Author Buddy

You need someone to keep you motivated, critique your work, give you advice, and share the same passion for reading and writing. An Author Buddy is the perfect solution. You can also share each others dreams and goals, help boost each others spirits, and come up with strategies to meet those goals.

Daily Schedule

I once wrote a blog that gave a sample schedule for authors that work fulltime at another job. I was then blasted with comments that ridiculed me. The most common was, “Forget about a schedule. Read and write when you have time.” I do not believe that is good advice. Just like any other profession, you need to plan ahead. Reading, writing, marketing, and industry knowledge are your priorities. List all the steps needed to reach certain goals and create a schedule to meet those goals.

To-Do List 

While making a schedule, you should also make a list of things that you need to get done. It is very, very important that you put them in order, starting with what is imperative you should finish today. At night, when you look back on your day, you will always feel good if you completed the most important things on your list, even if that is only one or two items.

Be Healthy

In body, mind, and spirit, you need to stay healthy. Being an author is a stressful job that requires you to sit on your rump. If you are a fulltime author, you’ll sit for eight or ten hours a day. You need an exercise and health plan. Most authors are overweight. It does no good to earn a two million dollar advance, if you are eating corn dogs and Skittles everyday while you write. Also, you need something that cleanses your spirit. Whether that is yoga or reading the bible, find a way to keep the peace in your heart and the stress levels at a minimum.

Take a Class

DO NOT TAKE A WRITING CLASS. You already have the gift to read and write. But you need to excel in other areas where you may have weaknesses. Below is a list of skills all self-motivated authors should have. The more of these skills you possess, the better chance you have to be a career author.

Budgeting, Marketing, Promotions, Operations, Public Speaking, Problem Solving, Content Writing, Sales, Program Implementation, Fundraising Projects, Research, Convey moods or emotions through writing, Basic Editing, Content Editing, Journalistic Skills, Oral or Written Communication Techniques.

After finishing this blog, go back and read the list again. What areas do you need to improve? (Remember, all of them are important.)

Next, you need to use the Social Network to your advantage. Back in the day, I was finding the home addresses to those in the publishing industry, stalking them, then “accidentally” running into them at the grocery store and introducing myself. Now, there are groups you can join to meet others. Some of the nicer established authors will even accept you as a friend on Facebook.

The point of this section is to have your name out there as much as possible for readers, agents, publishers, and other authors to see. In short, you want to be identifiable. Also, the Social Network is great for industry knowledge.


Writing a blog is tougher than most people think. Actually, let me rephrase that. Writing a blog that is useful to a large audience is tougher than most people think. So why not do the opposite? Any blogs on writing, publishing, or subjects that involve your craft, along with blogs done by agents or established authors, leave a thoughtful comment. The writers of those blogs do look over their comments. (All of them.) The more your name show ups, the more identifiable you become.

And remember that hundreds or even thousands of those in the industry read those blogs, along with the comments. How often does your name appear?


Follow literary agents, publishers, and other authors. Give your constructive opinion in publishing forums. Comment on all “tweets.”


14% of people looking for a job, found one using connections on Facebook. (Bankrate Survey.) All established authors, literary agencies, and publishers have fan pages. Join them and make comments. Some will even let you post your website link.

There are other Social Networking sites like LinkedIn. Just remember that 70% of hiring managers have rejected job applicants based on information the candidate posted online. Agents and publishers want to know that the author is professional, upbeat, and motivated. Anything you post or comment should have a positive theme. Writers can use social media for personal use. They can ridicule a blogger, post eyebrow-raising photos, and post complaints about their day.


need to be professional.

If you are playing the role of an author each day, you will look the part. Imagine you are walking into the office of an influential literary agent. Your appearance and how you carry yourself will be evident, creating a great first impression.

All the preparation you have done will help with tough questions that you may be asked. This includes, “What is your biggest weakness?” Or “How can I sell your books?” Or “How well do you understand the publishing industry?” Or “What are your marketing approaches?”

When the day comes for you to submit your work to an agent or publisher, do some extra research. (Beyond what you did by joining their fan page, following blogs, participating in their forums, etc…) The more you know about someone, the more impressed they will be. And they can tell when you skimmed over their “About Us” page on their website.

At this point you may be thinking, “Wow. This is a lot of work.” Well, it is. Anyone can write a book and have it published. Those that put in the time, use a schedule and to-do list, will be around for the long haul.

 Just ask yourself this question… “How bad do I want this job?”

Ron Knight

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  1. Well said. With all that you’ve listed it’s more than a full time job. But as for the final comment, the answer is what keeps me motivated to work non-stop. 😉

  2. Great post Ron, now all I need is more hours in a day!