How often have you picked up a book and thought, ‘This author writes such cr@p and he still gets published by a top tier publishing house. I’m sure I can do a much better job,’ then you’ve got yourself a writing career option for strong consideration. Maybe you should pick up the quill, dip it in ink and take some scented handcrafted paper to start your writing career. If you have access to a computer, your journey might get speeded up a little.
A writing career can take on many forms. One of those is journalism. If there’s a topic that you are deeply interested in – such as politics, entertainment, business, environmental issues, fashion – you could find out where such content gets published and approach them. It may be conventional publications like newspapers (broadsheets), tabloids, cave carvings, magazines or there might be new media forms such as the internet or mobile content.
Within each of these there may be a plethora of offerings to opt for. For instance, in business writing, you might be responsible for the company’s internal publications (newsletters, technical updates and product brochures, annual reports) or content that gets circulated to external stakeholders (press releases, analyst presentations, newspaper advertisements). If you are not on the corporate side of a publishing company, looking after corporate strategy, mergers & acquisitions or any of the other areas where an understanding of a broad range of skills is needed, an advanced business degree (like the MBA) will not really make or break your chances of being successful. It can be damn confusing if you are just getting started. So take your time to carry out some research and then pick a niche that works for you.
Apart from small focused articles as described above, the other area you could explore is in book publishing. Non-fiction and fiction are the broad categories in books. If you’ve got a book in you (as they say in the publishing parlance) waiting to see the light of day and if you are ready to tackle the challenges that come with being an author, this can be a very satisfying career.
The roadblocks and hurdles can be many, especially for a first-time writer. There’s the writer’s block to begin with. You may have a ton of ideas waiting to explode on to the computer screen, but when you actually get down to writing, all those brilliant thoughts just blank out. The others are commitment, perseverance and patience.
– Commitment, because you’ll have to push yourself to set targets and deadlines for yourself. It can be a lonely job when you have to shut the world out and just focus on getting to that word-count.
– Perseverance, because you’ll have to face a million doors being slammed in your face before you can get your foot in that first door. If you are not a celebrity or already a known figure within your target readership, do not expect publishers to line up with contracts and big bucks.
– Patience, because it takes a long time to establish credibility. You might want to chart out a gradual roadmap. For instance, if you want to launch yourself as a non-fiction writer, you could start off by writing smaller articles first, getting them published, building a name for yourself in the industry as a subject matter expert in a particular field and then taking on a book project.
If you have proved yourself as a writer, you could think about moving to the other side of the table – as an editor, or as a literary scout or launch your own publishing house. However for you to get there, you will have to first prove that you can write well and that you understand the nuances of a good article or book, from all angles, be it commercial or aesthetics.
It can be a long arduous road. But if you are passionate about writing, set the ball rolling today, if you haven’t already done so.
If you have got anything (credible, original and interesting) published online, let me know a little bit about yourself and share the link to your work in the comments below. A little additional traffic to your page won’t hurt. Though this blog seems relatively new, I’m hoping the traffic will go up considerably very soon. Reason – my book is getting released by a major publishing house. So get your work linked from here (I reserve the right to delete or approve the entries). You never know who’ll click on it. Maybe that publishing contract is waiting for you just around the corner.