Step 4: Become curious about other authors

Learning about publishing can sometimes feel like a series of having your fantastical balloons popped, mercilessly, one by one, with a sharp knife. “Being an author” and getting a book published are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to reality and fantasy, which is why my advice for step 4 basically involves grabbing your perceptions and exposing them to the light of reality.

The least comforting part of step 4 is the fact that authors you admire become very real people. They are no longer mythical creatures of grandeur—they’re folks just like you and me who had a lot of normal life leading up to their book being published and still live a whole lot of normal once it’s published as well. The real value in step 4, as I see it, is in the strength of curiosity and open-mindedness you bring to looking at authors you admire and trying to glean what practical steps made them a published author (and what keeps them publishing).

First, find your inspirational author tribe

Start by choosing three to five authors whose work you follow and admire. Most likely, the book you’re working on has at least a few things in common with these authors. In order to learn something useful for your own book process, these authors should have at least a few books that have sold well and who have followed the publishing path that lines up with the one you’d like to follow.