Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know about Writing as a Profession by Sevastian Winters

If you haven’t already, you need to familiarize yourself with Sevastian Winters.  I have been following his journey to find happiness since he began “unpacking baggage” on his blog The Homeless Gazillionaire.    If his post don’t move you, inspire you, or motivate you, well, your probably already dead.  At the least, his post will make you think about how events that occurred in your past effect the way you deal with thing in the present.  
That is why I was so excited to have Sev offer us Aspiring Writer’s an education:  

Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know

about Writing as a Profession

 By Sevastian Winters

When I first agreed to write this piece for Syd, I didn’t quite realize what I was getting into. Choosing ten things from amongst the hundreds of things writers should know about writing is a task all unto itself, and I argued with myself over which ten were “most important.” In the end, I decided to highlight the things about this business that are very often missed. So without further adieu, here are the ten things I feel that writers absolutely must know if they aim to make a living with their “pen.”


There are more aspiring professional writers in today’s market than ever before!

If video killed the radio star, then the internet killed the exclusivity and mystery of being a writer. With the advent of blogs, content mills and, more recently, eBooks, everyone from 12 to 112 is getting in the game. The internet is hungry for content, and that means it needs writers. Forget about yesteryear. Writing isn’t just about writing anymore. It’s bigger than that. It is a gangbang of information insemination. If that analogy seems gross, suck it up, princess. That’s the price we pay for moving information around the world at the speed of thought.

If you want to build a career as a professional writer, you can! That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you don’t work smart, you are going to work very, very hard!


Fiction/poetry may feed your soul, but non-fiction will feed your family

I love fiction. It allows me to tap into emotions and the heart of what is, for me, very real. That said, my non-fiction work outsells my fiction ten to one. There are writers who make their living writing only fiction, and the richest writers on the planet write fiction exclusively, but breaking that barrier is hard. In the meantime, if you want to be a full time writer, you are going to have to also get comfortable writing non-fiction. Fiction might make you very wealthy, but if it doesn’t, non-fiction will at least pay your bills.


eReaders are here to stay. So If you want to make money with your writing, you’re going to have to shut  up about how sad you are to see paper go.

Seriously. Writers can’t afford to care about the medium. Pay attention to the content. If tomorrow the fad was to deliver stories written in goat’s blood on the backs of motor homes, no one’s goat would be safe from me. We exist in the market. We don’t control it.


Newsflash: Readers DO Judge books by their Covers!

Even if you’re selling eBooks, you are going to need some cover art. I am constantly amazed at how writers spend months perfecting their work only to give their covers what amounts to a cursory glance. The best book in the world will not sell if it has an ineffectual cover. 80% of what sells books is on the cover, 20% is found in the first 5 pages, and all of the rest of your book determines whether the reader will buy the NEXT book. That means that your books had better damn well be identifiable as yours!

 If a reader likes your writing, they may want to read another. People don’t buy a book called “The Stand” by Stephen King. They buy Stephen King’s “The Stand.” The difference is that they are buying Stephen King. If you want to sell your books, you’d better be sure that people know your work is yours beyond the shadow of a doubt. Covers can’t just be pretty. They have to be memorable! A book cover is not wrapping paper. It is your greatest, and most important sales tool! Treat it with respect.


Without an identifiable Brand, you will spend your writing career fighting an uphill battle.

Branding is about making sure that from a mile away people know your work and know what to expect. It encompasses everything about what makes your product uniquely yours! Branding is why, when I say “Golden Arches,” you know the place I mean.

If people know and become familiar with what to expect from your brand, you will have done 90% of the selling you ever have to to. I have never owned a Canon camera, but if I was in need of a camera, I wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation about choosing that brand. I recognize it, and despite having no personal experience with the brand, I trust it. People buy the brands they trust. If you have not branded your work as yours, you will constantly find yourself selling new product as if it has no brothers or sisters, and that, my friends is an unnecessary and  grueling uphill battle. Brand. Brand. Brand.

I think I will stop there. Let that sink in. If you have any questions for Sev, feel free to leave them in the comments. And please, come back on Saturday, November 17th for #6 – #10.  

19 thoughts on “Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know about Writing as a Profession by Sevastian Winters

  1. Thank you for these, especially number four. I’m not ashamed to admit that an attractive cover will make me look longer at the story behind it than a cover that screams amateur. Besides, I am always pleased to give a starving artist some money and a chance to showcase their talents. 🙂

    1. Hi Kirsten. If you have a few extra bucks, Sev. is a good investment. I am happy you enjoyed the post. I agree with the book cover. It is important. If I am just looking for a random book to read, the cover speaks to me first.

  2. Who knew my Thursday morning would start with a Buggles song? Now I’ve got it stuck in my head and might have to watch the video to make it stop.

    Sevastian’s got some great points. I especially like the idea that people need to trust you. I think many writers just think they have to write, but it’s about forming a relationship with readers. I’m totally looking forward to Saturday and getting more Sevastian goodness.

    1. Yeah Alex, it’s the cover. Haha. Just recently I bought two books because of the cover, but didn’t get last the first chapters. What were the culprits you ask? Bad grammar and misspelled words. I can’t stand that the most. eBooks are great. self publishing awesome. Buy yourself an editor.

  3. Holy smokes! That was a kick in the pants for this writer – awesome stuff! Very honest and real advice. Thank you both! I can’t wait until Saturday now for the rest of this list!!!!

  4. Awesome post. I agree that even an e-book can’t have a cover that screams AMATEUR. If people perceive you that way, chances are you will stay that way. By the way, Saturday is Nov. 17, not 16. Or were you testing us?

    1. Testing you. Thanks for the correction. Haha. Cover is one thing that stands out between amateur and professional. But, anyone with money can buy a great cover design. Still need quality on the inside.

  5. I guess ‘technical writing’ pays my bills LOL. It’s just a shame there is such tension between technical legal writing and fiction. My characters always sound like pompous asses until I revise!

  6. For a minute there, I thought you were Bruce Willis, with that Ok Princess there. But I kept reading, and I agree with what you said, and I am inspired. Thanks, Louise

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