Writing is a Business–Treat it that Way
It’s easy to get caught up in the artistic side of writing. Creating characters and worlds and then finding the right way to present them is a craft all on its own. As the story takes on a life, it can become nearly all-consuming.
In the end, though, you should remember you are in charge and this is, like it or not, a business. For anyone who is expecting to make a living from writing, it can only be artistic during the creation process. Everything else—from revising and editing to marketing and networking—is business.
Here are some of the aspects I’ve run into that are unhappy reminders that art isn’t everything:
Marketing. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “I’m a writer, not public relations.” In this day and age, those are one and the same. Even traditional houses aren’t providing as much support as they once did. And the really bad news is, even if you hire a publicist, you still have to be involved. Readers want to see you and your book, not anyone or anything else. It is now in the job description.
Criticism. Writers who are not ready to be told that parts of their work are simply awful are not ready to be authors. If you can’t even get past the first stage of allowing a few people near you to edit it, you probably won’t handle agents very well. And let’s not forget readers. Some reviews can be downright ruthless. Criticism is also part of the job description.
Regret not reading the fine print yet?
Consistency. Authors who don’t want to be in public relations might grudgingly start a blog, but then not be consistent about it. They’re likely the same ones who don’t write unless they have inspiration. Both writing and marketing require a steady stream of activity. Writing is a business.
Business hours. Related to the above issue, some aspiring authors don’t set business hours, even though writing is a business. If the phone rings, they answer it. If someone knocks on the front door, they let them in. If they remember they didn’t watch the latest episode of Family Guy, they go find it on Hulu right away. If you wouldn’t do these things at a traditional job, don’t do it when writing, either.
Failures. If you get one bad performance review at your day job, do you run out the door and never return? Or do you grumble about it then discreetly improve, just enough to get the boss off your back but not be a sell-out to your peers? Hopefully you actually just fix the issue and move on. That should be applied to your writing as well. Not everything you write is five-star and sometimes it will just flop. Take the failures with the triumphs and move on. This is the only way to be when writing is a business.
All this was in the training manual. You did read the manual, right?
That’s the problem with writing. There is no manual, no first day orientation, no solid answers. We’re all in this alone together. Yep. But it’s not impossible. Just go browse the book shelves and see how many other people conquered all the above. Once you start taking yourself seriously—as a business person, not just an artist—then others will too.
What aspects of writing do you find most difficult to take seriously? What tips do you have for reminding yourself it’s not just art, but an actual business?
Author Bio: When Rainy Kaye isn’t plotting world domination, she enjoys encouraging aspiring overlords on her blog, Rainy of the Dark. She is powered by coffee, encouraged by chocolate, and convinced the household felines are plotting her demise. She is married to a man who excels at humoring her.
How about you? W hat would you add to this? Tell me in the comments.
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