A Professional Author: What’s Involved

How I define what’s involved in professional writing

Being a professional author is much more than writing books, especially in this day and age. Whether authors choose traditional, hybrid, or self-publishing, most are involved in promotion, maintain a website, and incur many up-front costs.

There’s a lot more to putting a book together than meets the eye.


In the following checklist, I have included what professional writing means for me, and the areas that are involved:

  • writing (and finishing) the manuscript
    • concept/research to draft
    • revision
    • editing
    • sending for beta reading, critique
    • more revision, editing
    • polishing
    • pre-pub proofreading

406 double-spaced pages of Beyond the Precipice

  • prep for production of a novel
    • the story (see “writing the manuscript”)
    • researching and deciding on publishing method (which often takes place while you’re writing the m.s.)
    • writing the parts of the book outside of the story
      • about the book (usually on back cover; may be written by author, publisher, or both)
      • acknowledgements
      • author bio
      • dedications, if any
      • discussion questions, if any
      • any additional info: end notes, author’s note, if any
      • preface or epilogue, if any
      • notes and disclaimers for copyright page (together with publisher)
    • cover art (independent of publisher or through publisher)
    • collecting reviews (for cover or inside the book)
    • cover design and formatting (including text, ISBN, logos, etc.)
    • internal formatting and design (however you choose to do this, even if the publisher does it, you need to review the author proof carefully)
  • promotion
    • book trailer
    • advertising
      • in person
      • social media, book sites
      • other
    • author website
    • organizations, libraries, bookstores
  • events 
    • community, library, writing and arts events, book signings, workshops, writers’ guilds and foundations, conferences, retreats
    • get known
    • connect with the community
    • learn
    • promo and advertising
    • sales
  • distribution and sales (what you do outside of the publisher’s area)

There is a reason I have a publisher and don’t do all the production myself. Publishing is a field in itself, and although I know many of the aspects involved, if I were to learn and carry out of of them by myself, I’d never have time to write anything. My side of preparation for production (before submission and after) is intensive enough. My publisher handles book cover layout, inner design, legalities, ISBN numbers, paperback and e-book formatting, printing, setup and distribution to online bookstores, payments and royalties, and promotion (on publisher’s site, events).

  • writing a blog (builds a platform)
    • website startup and maintenance
    • concept to draft of each blog article and page
    • polish, polish, polish
    • post
  • writing other materials—articles, short stories (support platform)
    • concept to draft
    • polish, polish, polish
    • post (location?)
  • professional development and memberships
    • courses, events, conferences
    • site memberships
  • costs
    • courses
    • writing conferences, retreats
    • memberships, workshops, events, book tables, entry fees
    • travel
    • professional photos (author, books, website)
    • promotional materials, advertising, event materials, etc.
    • site memberships and subscriptions (get read, promo)
    • online costs: internet security, domain and website fees
    • Outstanding-TomHyman-Screenshot3

      Critique by Tom Hyman in 2012

      professional editing and critique (prior to sending for publication)

    • professional cover design (independent contractor or through publisher) unless you can do your own
    • book trailer (hire out or purchase own software; there are some free ones, but have limitations)
    • typesetting or file format conversion, unless included in publisher’s fees
    • publishing fees for services
      • contract
      • review
      • print and e-book formats
      • up-front cost of ordering own set of printed books
    • books distributed by author on consignment
    • computer hardware and software, printer, office materials

Not all authors do all this or incur all these costs, but many do.

Did I miss anything?

I’d love to hear your tips and experiences in the comments.

Related articles

On writing

First You Have to Write Many, Many Words

A list of articles on terms, mechanics, and process

Finishing a Book is a Skill


What happens next. . .  Steps after the first draft

Rewriting: An Overview of the Process

Is My Manuscript Ready for Publication? Steps After Professional Editing

Getting out there

20 Ways to Get Yourself Out There as a Writer

With Thanks to a Key Resource for Writers and Authors


Should You Self Publish or Traditionally Publish?

Four Truths and Four Myths That Every New Novelist Should Know

The whole shebang

Lessons I Learned with My First Book

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction, fantasy, and paranormal, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning disorders and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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4 Responses to A Professional Author: What’s Involved

  1. Great article! And somehow we have to make time for family, housework, and meals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the challenge, isn’t it? Tomorrow I’m posting Why I Don’t Write a Fresh NaNoWriMo Novel Every Year, which touches upon these issues as definite problems in November. But time is a problem year-round, since for many of us authors, writing is the other career and we’re constantly double-shifting.

      Thanks for following my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Why I Don’t Write a Fresh NaNoWriMo Novel Every Year | Beyond the Precipice

  3. Pingback: June 2017 Roundup: Manuscript Editing and Publishing | Beyond the Precipice

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