The Older Author
Do you have what it takes to be successful?
There is no time like retirement or hitting fifty to start a writing career. Your time is your own, your children are grown, and your job doesn’t interfere with your creative thought process. You keep hearing about people who are jumping into the self-publishing arena and are wondering: Why not me?
It pays to give it some thought before beginning a writing career. The first thing you have to ask yourself is why you want to write? If the answer is for your own pleasure, then get right at it, no need to plan. You might enjoy taking a class in writing at a local college.
But if your goal is to make money as a self-published author or have your writing reach a large audience, there are a few things you will need to take stock of first.
1. You must have basic computer skills. And be comfortable communicating online. Familiarity and ability to use social network sites are a big advantage. If you hate computers and all things digital, self-publishing is probably not for you. If you are lacking in those skills and still want to write, take a class in computer basics and one in networking.
2. Own your own computer. Using your husband’s, your children’s or one from a local library just won’t work. If you cannot afford one, used computers are available. Just don’t use one that is too old to be compatible with the things you will need to do online.
3. Time. If your schedule is packed with things like traveling, golfing, taking care grandkids, having company, and socializing with friends, you will have to decide where writing will fit into your life. For some writers, an hour a day is enough, and others spend eight hours a day writing and marketing. But you need to write regularly. If your lifestyle won’t accommodate that, you may need to reset some priorities in order to free up some time.
4. A quiet workspace. There are writers who claim to be able to work no matter what the distraction. But most of us need a quiet spot for writing. If you don’t live alone you will need a work area you can call your own.
5. Be a reader. If you aren’t a reader, writing will not come easily. And it will be hard to decide just what genre you want to write in. Most writers have been avid readers and write in the genre they enjoy the most. Familiarity with the genre you will write in will help you be successful because you will have an idea what those readers are looking for.
6. Be a goal setter. A writing career is a huge endeavor. Make a list of the things you need to do in order to get started and follow through, beginning with the basics. Establishing daily and weekly goals force you to keep moving forward.
7. Have determination. Without this, you cannot be successful. If you think you can just slap your book on Amazon.com and be “discovered,” think again. The chances of that happening are about as likely as winning a multi-million-dollar lottery. It requires a lot of hard work, both in honing your writing skills and marketing your writing, in order to obtain an audience for your work.
As more and more of us who are no longer twenty-one get into writing, (along with everyone else!) it is important to recognize that the competition for readers’ attention is fierce. If you feel you have what it takes to write and self-publish or at least want to give it a try, it might help to join a writers’ group or take a night class for people who want to write. Either one will not just help improve your writing, but will give you a lot of valuable input from other writers. Good luck!