• Elena Ornig
  • How to write a book as a professional writer?
How to write a book as a professional writer?
Written by
Elena Ornig
October 2012
Written by
Elena Ornig
October 2012

Achieving the title of becoming a published author now is far more reachable than no one had ever dreamed of just a couple of decades ago. Many writers have thrown themselves into the vortex of self-publishing industry, but as usual, only a few have achieved the desirable recognition and satisfactory pay cheques. Determination and honest, hard work plus the risk of committed capital are not aspects I would like to focus on.

All writers are trying their best but only a few books are good enough for the modern day readers who are well educated, know what they are paying for and have become very astute and choosy. Unfortunately, many writers tend to look at their written work as a manifestation of their sacrifice to educate or entertain the readers. The readers do not take into consideration the writers ‘effort. They are boldly and brutally looking at every book as a value for money product with real benefits: education or entertainment. It seems like both parties are looking in the same direction: to educate and to be educated, and to entertain and be entertained. Therefore the question I am bringing to the discussion is: “How to write a book in order to achieve a desirable result for a writer?” 

The result for the professional writer is always simple – write a book that will become well recognised and sells well.  The reason for absence of complication for the professional writer is the understanding of a simple truth – a book is the product of a writer’s intellectual property. This can be exchanged for money with the extra benefit of world-wide recognition, or even the not so far-fetched aspiration of immortality through work. This simple truth separates the professional writer, who thinks like any other producer of goods (fashion designer, architect, inventor, composer or film producer) from the disillusioned writer who is only in love with their own story and effort.

Therefore, I believe that is a good idea for anyone who wants to be a professional writer to recognise that your first question to yourself must be: “Do I really have the ability to generate income by being a professional writer?” or “Do I really have a product (manuscript) that will not just sells but has enough substance (benefits for readers) to generate a profit?” It is very different from the writer who is making statements like: “I had great satisfaction during the whole process of writing and self-publishing my book.” When I hear this I usually want to ask how many copies they have sold, but I never do because if they have sold many they would obviously mention it.

Nothing is wrong with writing and self-publishing a book for self-satisfaction, self-education and in many cases for self-improvement – it is admirable! However, if you want to be a professional writer with a reasonable income – effort, determination and even some capital for self-publishing is not good enough. In order to become a recognised, self-published, professional writer one has to learn to think like a businessman.  One who considers the idea and generates a vision, one who manufactures the product, the one who researches and markets. These four major pillars of any business are vital for the professional writer.

Before any product (manuscript) can be produced (written down and printed), one (writer) must come up with an idea (intellectual property of theme, plot and content full of the benefits for the end users – consumers/ readers).  The pool of ideas is endless but to understand which idea can be more profitable, the writer for a while, must become a market researcher. It is easier to start by assessing your knowledge first. Not surprisingly, many well-known and established professional writers give the same advice to others:” Start writing of what you know or what you really like.”  You might like to collect tasteless souvenirs and you might have many in your collection because you like these things. So, how would you be able to use this to generate a sellable idea? 

First you do your research in order to probe the market in general.  How many books have been written on this topic? Are they fictional or non-fictional? What are they about? The history of souvenirs or how to make souvenirs, jokes about souvenirs or horror stories where souvenirs are involved? How many people are interested in souvenirs? Are there any clubs or groups of interest revolving around souvenirs? And so on.  The more information you collect about this specific topic, the better you will get a feel of the market, interests and the potential demands you must assess. 

Based on this research and your own preference of genre you can come up with several ideas for a fiction or non-fiction book.  The great thing is that whichever genre you choose, the knowledge that you have and the knowledge that you accumulate from the preliminary research on this topic can be already useful for your book. For example you can come up with an idea to write a travel book where each different souvenir could represent the places or the people, culture and traditions or a well-known cuisine. Or maybe you believe you are really good at writing fiction and the plot for this book can revolve around souvenir collectors, where the protagonist  hates souvenirs  and destroys them as well as killing their owners. Or aliens, who look like souvenirs, have come down in order to convert us and make us look just like them.

You have a specific topic, now come up with the theme, the plot and outline the content of the future manuscript but hold on for a while and think about the benefits for the readers. What will they learn from your non-fiction book that is so valuable that they will happily pay for it? How interesting is the theme, the plot and the whole story of your non-fiction book?  Is it enough to take their breath away and open their wallets? Also, you have to assess your own ability of productive writing, compared to time consumption. How long will it take you to write your manuscript, including time for extra research and time for editing; one year, two years, three years or six years? Does this whole process now remind you of a business plan? Well it should, because it all comes back to one simple rule: before you sell something, you have to produce it and before you produce it you must plan.  At least you should outline the whole process and understand that there has to be a reasonable demand for your product.

Even if you plan it well, produce it well and the real benefits of your product are unquestionable, the next big decision for you is to try to break into traditional publishing or self-publish your book. If you will be accepted by a traditional publishing company, you will have a well-oiled machine that will market your book much better than you can. However, there is a big minus – if your book will not take off in the period of between seven weeks and half a year – it will be returned to the publishers and your book will be basically forgotten. If you self-publish your book – you can continue to market your book (your time or your money) as long as you want. With self-published books, the real miracle can happen years later.  One more possibility with great benefits is to publish or self-publish a digital book – it is cheaper to produce but not cheaper to market. However, it is easier to change content in order to improve it after a few reviews or feedback; or even create a new and better version as a second edition.

Whatever you want to do, of course it is up to you but please understand that to become a professional writer with a reasonable income requires a business approach to your product and every related activity.  


My warmest regards,



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