Do you, author, take this concept – writing – to be your future career? I now pronounce you doomed to spend every waking moment dreaming about writing, wishing you could write and complaining on social media about being unable to write.

There is a huge difference between writing as a hobby, being a ‘casual’ published writer and being a full-time professional writer.

I have yet to reach the last of those positions but I have gained a large number of friends who fall into each of those categories and from speaking with them and doing a bunch of research I have narrowed down a couple of things that can help to move a person from hobbyist to professional. So here we go:

Writing is a commitment

The degrees to which one needs to commit vary, but, as with almost any other trade, you won’t see results without putting in the effort. You cannot hope to have success on the back of just one book. It may work for a select few, but for the rest of us being prolific is the best chance for making a success. You wrote one book? Great, now write two more, and so on. You don’t get to rest up after the first small success, you have to push and push. All day, at every free moment. When you’re not writing, you should be researching – building marketing techniques – networking – looking up publishers… e.t.c. Sound like hard work? Guess what sweet cheeks, it is. Look at the successful writers in the world, did Stephen King stop after the first success, or did he keep writing and releasing books? JK Rowling was working on the Harry Potter series for a good chunk of her adult life – and still is. You don’t get to kick back and wait for the royalty monies to roll in or you will fade into obscurity. Writing is a lifestyle choice, not an easy route to financial security. You can only get so far on half-assed effort. Success comes when you fully commit and never back down and even then there is no guarantee. You have to first write for a love of writing.

Product quality is key

I can categorically tell you that writing is not a ‘get rich quick’ profession. You can’t simply spew verbal slurry onto a page and then doodle a book cover and hit publish – well technically you could do this, but you won’t make any money from it. You are competing with millions of other books in existence. In order to stand out in the crowd you need to have a polished product. This involves investment in both time and money. A book must be well edited. A cover must be eye-catching and appealing. The blurb must be enticing. People will make a snap decision about whether or not to purchase your book based on these key things so if your book is lacking you will not make a sale. If you’re not self-publishing and are going for a contract with a publisher then these elements are still important (save for the cover). If you can’t afford to splash out on editing or cover art then you can still publish regardless but be prepared for poor reviews and low sales.

I still hold onto the dream that one day I might sell enough books to quit my job and write full time, but I have already committed my mind to the task. There’s nothing wrong with writing as a hobby, but when you chose to take it to another level it’s an eye-opening experience.

Write on!