An author displays critical thinking while writing her novel.

How to Become an Author: A Creative Career Path for Historians

Writing provides a universal platform to convey the context and importance of history. Crafting engaging investigative narratives or fictitious stories based on landmark events can bring vibrancy to past historical occurrences, making them fresh and alive for today’s audience. For historians and researchers, learning how to become an author can provide an opportunity to combine technical knowledge and creative skill to share key events from the past with a broader audience. However, authoring a transcript requires more than just pecking at a keyboard.

The Work of an Author

An author primarily creates content in different forms such as stories, magazine articles, scripts, presentations and textbooks. Authors can investigate different outlets to publish their work such as publishing houses, professional journals, and trade magazines.  In choosing a medium, an author must combine their historical knowledge and creative writing skills to present a selected subject matter relevant to an audience’s interests. They must ensure accurate details and information via research and work with editors and clients in creating a final publishable piece.

Successful authors must possess the ability to create content that connects with readers. They must have solid research skills to thoroughly understand the subjects of their manuscripts and the creativity to develop new ideas, plots, or angles to present their concepts. Finally, a successful author must have numerous soft skills to navigate the business side of the writing profession, such as critical thinking, time management, and interpersonal communication.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2018 median pay for authors was approximately $62,200 per year. This number may fluctuate based on experience level.

How to Become an Author: Necessary Steps

Individuals of all academic backgrounds can potentially become an author or a writer. However, those obtaining an advanced degree in a subject in which they are passionate, such as history, may better prepare themselves for success. Those looking to pursue a career as a writer in a specific subject can strengthen their knowledge and skill level with an advanced degree. For example, students with an online Master of Arts in History degree can cultivate a deeper understanding of historical events and figures that may serve as future subject matter.

Additionally, writers must gain experience by writing for school newspapers or working at an internship with a newspaper or magazine. Those with particularly strong writing skills may venture into writing their own blogs. In some cases, individuals gain experience while working in correlated careers such as advertising, teaching, or publishing.

The Future for Historians as Authors

While reading platforms transition from print to online, the need for writers skilled in creating engaging stories on important historical subjects remains strong. The BLS predicts an 8% job growth for writers and authors from 2016 to 2026, placing the profession in line with the 7% average growth predicted for all other professions.

Having the right combination of skills, creativity, and knowledge gives future historians the right tools to become a successful writer. An advanced degree provides future historians with a competitive edge in the market and better foundation to convey the past in a riveting manner to a broader audience.

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Norwich University is an important part of American history. Established in 1819, this nationally- recognized institution of higher education stands as the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and the first private military college in the United States.

Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program provides students with the opportunity to enhance their awareness of different historical viewpoints while developing their research, writing, analytical, and presentation skills. The program offers two tracks ― American History and World History ― that allows studies to be tailored to specific interests and goals.

Recommended Readings
How to Become a Researcher
What is a Historian and How Do You Become One?
8 Compelling Careers in History

Historians in Editing and Publishing, American Historical Association
Historical Thinking Skills, American Historical Association
Master of Arts in History, Norwich University
Poets, Lyricists, and Creative Writers, O*Net Online
Writers and Authors, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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