I am new to the business of writing professionally. Even so, people ask me often how one goes about becoming a published author (never mind successful!). I would never claim to have all the answers since I can only draw on my own experience. However, there are numerous resources on the Internet, and I can post links to them here as I find them.
If you want to pursue writing, fiction or non-fiction, here is a good place to start:
1) Make time to write.
2) Find a place where you can be creative.
3) Get a notebook or, if you are more electronically inclined, a tablet or laptop with a writing program like Word or a note-taking app like EverNote and carry it with you so you can jot down thoughts and ideas as they come to you.
4) Read the genre you want to write to see how other people write. Read published authors’ thoughts on writing by people such as Stephen King or famous advice on writing collected at the website Brain Pickings. I have found Matt Bird “The Secrets of Story” and Donald Maass “Writing the Breakout Novel” and “The Emotional Craft of Fiction” to be very helpful.
TheBookDesigner by Joel Friedlander. This website is a good place to start. It has a little of everything. The first time I went to it I went straight to the post that addressed my question of “what is the best font to use when formatting a paperback?” It gave me that answer, but I found myself backing up to the previous post, then the previous post, and then finally I gave up and started at the beginning with the articles posted under “writing.” The site was recently reorganized so it doesn’t look the way it did 3 months ago, but I found their progression from “so you want to write” step by step through “how to market your book” very helpful. Some of their posts are old (2010) but they are still largely applicable.
For beginning writers the post “What kind of self publisher am I?” is especially helpful. This explores the reason you are interested in publishing and writing at all. It talks about finding your own measures of success from “yea, I finished a project!” to “I want to be an internationally acclaimed writer” and how to pursue those goals.
One of the hardest elements for a writer is getting good cover art! Those of us who write aren’t necessarily amazing graphic artists as well. Here is a resource suggested by a PDP reader.
99 designs uses a cover contest method to help you find the right art for your cover. It’s a little expensive with packages ranging from $299 to $1000 but it sends your request worldwide, seeking art on your behalf. The website isn’t clear on how quick the turnaround is but mentions 7 days to choose your favorite design and continue working with that artist to finish the cover the way you want. I have not tried this, but it looked intriguing.
You can also google/search: book cover designs for self published books