grad school writing center education

Writing books is a career that is heavily romanticized but rewarding nonetheless. Building the skills necessary to write for a living is imperative, and improving at writing is a process that takes serious time and dedication. The best place to start is to learn the foundational rules of grammar and punctuation, then work on how to strengthen your writing through revision and proofreading.

Your work is never done once you’ve put the words in your head on paper or on a screen: The first draft is just one step out of many. And once you’ve gone through multiple revisions, gotten outside readers to give you a fresh perspective on the piece, and ensured that it’s as strong as it can be, you next need to determine what path to take to get your writing out into the world.

Writing is a business, but when it’s the job you feel most strongly about doing, taking in every little bit of information about the writing, editing, and publishing process will be beneficial to your growth.

GSC_Writing - fact

General Grammar Tools

Apostrophe Rules



Outlines and First Drafts

Proofreading Tips

Building an Amazon Author Page

Education and Skills

Writing is an important skill to have whether you’re interested in becoming a writer or not. If writing is a career you’re interested in, an English degree can be useful, but other college majors can also be great for writers, like journalism, communications, business, and linguistics, all of which teach skills that can be used in a writing career.

  • Writers and Authors: A Job Overview: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines the median pay for authors, what kind of education is required to become a writer, and what kind of training is necessary to succeed in this industry.
  • How to Become a Successful Writer in Five Steps: Success means different things to different people, and MasterClass offers advice from successful writers so you can achieve whatever your vision of success is.

Using an Editor

Once you’ve written a book or other work, the next step is to edit it. First drafts are great for getting your story down on paper, but you should never submit your first draft to literary agents or publish it without doing some editing.

Even self-editing alone isn’t enough; working with critique partners and beta readers can get fresh eyes on your story and can even catch details and plot holes that you may have missed. After you’ve made changes based on the comments of your readers, it can be a great idea to work with a professional editor to ensure that your book is as close to perfect as you can make it.

  • When Should You Hire an Editor? Writer’s Digest talked to three professional editors about when to hire an editor, if hiring an editor is right for you, and how to find an editor who can help you achieve your goals.
  • What Editors Do and When You Need One: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America detail the extensive process of finding an editor and examine the differences between a freelance editor and an in-house editor, what those differences entail, and the different things that editors will look for.
  • When Is the Right Time to Hire an Editor? The Write Life looks at how to know it’s the right time to hire an editor and what a writer’s expectations should be.

Self-Publishing Help

Once you’ve gone through multiple edits, the next step in the process is to determine which route you’d like to go in order to publish your book. One route that has gotten popular in recent years is to self-publish your book.

There are plenty of advantages of self-publishing, like eliminating the rejections of editors and agents and keeping autonomy over your story so you don’t feel like you have to change things to fit the market.

However, there are disadvantages, too, such as the cost of creating an eye-catching cover that will draw people to your story, the challenges of marketing, the potential for low sales, and the possibility of working with self-publishing companies that may not have your best interests at heart.

Finding a Publisher

The more traditional route of publishing is to find a literary agent to help you on your journey. Finding a literary agent is more challenging than self-publishing. Searching for a literary agent can be difficult because agents ask for different things, but most require a synopsis, several pages of your book, and a query letter.

The goal of this proposal package is to highlight what makes your book unique to convince an agent to fall in love with it as much as you have. When an agent loves your work, they will enjoy helping you make that story even stronger so the two of you, as a team, can submit the updated story to publishers and get it published.

  • QueryTracker: QueryTracker is a database of literary agents and small presses that you can submit your book to. You can narrow your search down by genre, view an agent’s individual page to see what kinds of work they are interested in, and read comments by other users to get a feel for what that agent or press is looking for right now and how long it takes for them to read submissions.
  • Finding a Literary Agent: Penguin Publishing has a quick guide devoted to breaking down the process of finding a literary agent for your book.
  • Traditional Publishing Steps: This article outlines the typical steps a debut author experiences in their journey through the traditional publishing process.

Tips to Become a Better Writer

Becoming a better writer can seem like an uphill battle sometimes, but it’s easy to improve a little bit day by day.

  • The best way to improve is by writing a little bit every day. Everything you write hones your skills: Like with any other skill, practice makes perfect.
  • Read constantly. You can’t be a better writer on writing alone: Reading what other people have written and reading multiple genres can improve your writing.
  • Master English grammar rules.
  • Keep writing even when you feel like your story is too hard to write. Take a few days off, but come back to it once you’ve been refreshed.
  • Ask for advice when you get stuck. Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary act; having a network of friends and other writers to fall back on when you’re stuck is a great way to keep yourself going.

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor