Last in our series, Kate looks at the work of an author.
What do authors do?
Write books! Many authors supplement their income with related roles like teaching creative writing, editing and proof-reading services, copy writing.
Who would you work for?
Freelance for the writing. Other roles (above) could be done as a freelancer or you could be employed by a university, college, publishing firm etc.
Are there actually any jobs in this sector?
Yes, but you have to create the opportunities. Getting an agent is still the most common way of getting a book to market- you’ll need to find an agent who is interested in your type of work and submit a cover letter with your book (giving them a reason to read it!). Twitter is a good way to identify specific agents and their interests and you can use The Writers & Artist’s Yearbook. The average advance for an author in the UK is £6,600 (June 2015), hence the need for a portfolio career.
Again, talent is the main criteria. Often English or other humanities degrees provide a good foundation for writing. It can be helpful to do an MA in Creative Writing, as it can provide technical training and also a chance to get feedback on your work, discuss ideas with other students and meet relevant guest speakers, visiting agents etc. But courses vary in content and quality, really research it to make sure it will meet your needs. Formal further study is not the only option, as with screen writing, there’s a lot of online resources, “how to” books and writer’s groups (virtual or physical). Resilience is important as authors may have to submit more than one book before you get accepted by an agent and you have to be open to feedback!
Tips for getting in?
Enter writing competitions. Write as much as you can. Build a strong presence on social media- both to promote yourself (as publishers and agents may look at how many twitter followers you have and see how you interact with your readers) but also to help gain insights into and build links with the publishing world. Join a writers group to get feedback on your work. Contact establish authors for advice- it’s a friendly community!
- ‘The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative’
- The Writers & Artists Yearbook (hard copy in Careers centre) writersandartists.co.uk
Thanks to all the writing professionals who inspired me to write this! Meg Roberts (copy writer), Stephanie Thwaites (literary agent), Simon van der Borgh (screen writer and lecturer), Jordan Allwood (runner and screen writer), Pamela Hartshorne (author and editor), Beth Underdown (author, copy editor and teacher), Clara Challenor-Walker (author), Abi Curtis (author, poet and lecturer).
Careers in writing blog: