Archives For What It Means To Be A Writer

A series explaining the fundamentals of being a writer, from getting work, to doing the work, to being paid for the work.

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series What It Means To Be A Writer

A little while back, I had a series of emails with a reader named Scott, who was considering an opportunity to write his first book. Scott did want to try writing a book, but didn’t want to jump into the project blindly, and so asked me what it meant, in day-to-day terms, to write a book. We had a few long emails back and forth, that I thought I’d edit/expand upon (my parts) and share here for others to benefit. In my responses, I did try to stress the negative aspects of being a writer, so as to present some of the worst case scenarios. What originally started as a couple of long emails became a long post, and now a series of posts. If you’d rather not read it all, the short advice is this:

If you want to write a book because it’s something you always wanted to do, give it a go, but if you want to write a book to get rich, become famous, or the like, you’re barking up the wrong tree!

Note that my perspective and advice specifically focuses on writing technical books and articles, which is what I do and know best, although much of the advice applies to other types of writing, too. Continue Reading…

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series What It Means To Be A Writer

In my first post in this new series I’m writing, I discussed the process of identifying the book you want to write. This comes down to answering these questions:

  • What topic do you want to write about and what do you want to say on that subject?
  • Do you have the expertise and writing skills to do that?

Once you’ve answered those questions, and therefore defined the book you want to write, the next step is to get a book deal: officially begin turning the idea of a book into an actual book. Now, to be fair, what it means to be a writer doesn’t always follow these steps (e.g., I’m sometimes lucky enough to be offered book deals without answering the first question), but when you’re just getting started, this is the logical path. Continue Reading…

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series What It Means To Be A Writer

What agents do, and whether or not you need one, is an important topic for any professional writer. If you only think you have one book idea in you, you probably don’t need an agent. If you hope to do more writing, let alone attempt a career partially based on writing, then you have a decision to make. In this post, I’ll provide some information as to what an agent does. Understanding the role of the agent should help you make the decision, should you be in that situation.

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This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series What It Means To Be A Writer

So you’ve decided to try writing a book: you’ve come up with the idea, sold it to a publisher, and perhaps used an agent in the process. The next step is to negotiate the contract. For those entirely new to the process, and even to those that have been around the proverbial writing block a few times, contract negotiating can be intimidating. If you’re using an agent, the agent will take care of this for you. If not, it’s up to you.

When I took a class on getting published (many years ago), the instructor informed us that you can negotiate contracts offered by publishers. Great! Just one hitch: most people don’t know what to negotiate! In this post, I’ll explain exactly that.

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This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series What It Means To Be A Writer

I’ve heard from many, many people that say they would like to write a book. And yet, most don’t know about the logistics of that process (specifically with respect to technical non-fiction; fiction has its own process). In this post, part five of my What It Means To Be A Writer series, I’ll walk through the actual writing process, from looking at a blank computer screen to there being a physical thing in the reader’s hands.

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