Can You Become a Nonfiction Author in a Month?

You must train yourself to go from aspiring to published author.Welcome to 2012 National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo) and the 2012 Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) challenge!

I’m going to start WNFIN off with some cold hard facts about becoming published. I don’t care if you want to become a freelance journalist, a ghostwriter, a corporate writer, a blogger, or a book author. If you want to have your work published, this un-sugarcoated post is for you. Anyone who has ever met me knows I don’t do a lot of sugar coating. And aspiring authors need the truth. So, here it is: You will not become an author in a month–at least not a successful one. You also won’t become an author just by writing.

The WNFIN challenge provides you with an opportunity to start and to finish a work of nonfiction over the course of the next 30 days. If you start today and work hard, writing every day, you will finish. (You could even publish a book in that amount of time.) If you are working on an essay and an article, this may seem easier than if you are working on a book (but maybe not—for some people writing is simply hard.) But at the end of the month, if you finish your project, you won’t be an author. You’ll still be a writer or an aspiring author.

Why? You still have to get your work published. Once that happens, you become an author.

To become an author, however, you must do more than simply complete your November project. It requires more than meeting this nonfiction writing challenge or any word count you might set for yourself. It also requires more than just a good idea and writing skill. It requires things like:

  • A market for your work
  • A manuscript that provides value for reader
  • An author platform
  • A promotion plan
  • A need in the market for your project

To become an author today, you need train for the job. And training really should begin the moment you decide “author” is the job you want. If your training doesn’t begin then, it should start when you first get the idea for your book. And it must continue long after you’ve written the last word of your manuscript or your book has been published and appears in online and in brick-and-mortar book stores. In fact, like any athlete who wants to have a long and successful career, your author training must continue until the day you decide to stop writing—and to stop selling your work.

I compare becoming a published author to training for the Tour de France. As a cyclists myself, I can tell you that I enjoy this activity. However, I don’t have much interest in the parts of a bicycle or in what makes me ride faster or more easily—other than I want to do those things. I also want to get where I’m going. I don’t really want to learn which bikes provide the least drag, which components are the most efficient or which tires provide the smoothest ride. I also don’t really want to learn how to change a tire or fix my brakes. But if I want compete in the Tour de France (or if I even want to take a one-hour ride), I have to understand these things and be proficient at them. To win the race, or even cross the finish line, I also have to put in a lot of time and effort actually cycling to get myself in shape and become a contender.

Like a serious racing cyclist, if you want to be a published author, you have to understand and become proficient at a lot of things in which you have no interest—marketing and promotion, business, speaking, printing, design, etc.—to reach your goal. And you have to spend time and effort on these activities daily—as well as on the ones you like, such as writing. Consider this your training time. You must practice your writing and the other skills necessary to succeed. You have to continue learning new skills, discovering tools that support your efforts and even seeking new coaches to help you hone your abilities and move you more quickly and easily toward your goal. This is the only way to go from the starting line—aspiring author—to the finish line—published author.

Lucky for you, WNFIN is a bit like a mini author training program. It not only challenges you to write, but it provides you with an education at the same time. You can read 30 days of blog posts written by top experts in the field of writing, publishing and promoting nonfiction writing.

This year, this blog will offer you:

  • 9 post on writing nonfiction
  • 5 posts on nonfiction publishing options
  • 3 posts on how to land a traditional publishing contract
  • 3 posts on preparing for self-publishing
  • 5 posts on promotion and platform building
  • 3 posts on becoming an author entrepreneur
  • 2 posts on becoming a published nonfiction author

Be sure, therefore, to sign up for the blog feed so you get each post in your email box or to come by daily. Read the post when you take a break from your writing training. It will inspire you and educate you. Both activities–writing and learning–will train you to become a published author.

About the Author

Nina Amir is an Inspiration to Creation Coach and the author of How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books), 10 short self-published books and 5 blogs. She inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results and motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose. Follow her on Twitter @NinaAmir and on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Tom Curtis



  1. […] for a nonfiction writer means communicating a message to many readers. However, as mentioned on the first post of the WNFIN challenge, you can’t rely on just a great idea and excellent writing ability to succeed. If you want to […]

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