The Writer’s Bag of Tricks

A Little Bit O’ Business

Happy New Year!

I know you’ve been working diligently over the holidays. You’ve been writing new book ideas down on cocktail napkins in between bites of spinach-artichoke dip. Or maybe you hid in the closet with a flashlight and your laptop in order to knock out your story premise while your in-laws napped on the couch. However you got your writing done, good for you. You are living that writing dream!

It might be time to skew the writing dream, just a bit, though. It’s a new year, and I think you can handle it. So, sit down.

You are a writer and you have the big dream of being published. It doesn’t matter to me whether you want to self-publish or get published by a small press, or one of the Big 5. I know you want to be published. I have enough experience to know this without a doubt.

I also know all you want to do is write. But the truth is that the business of writing is not just about the writing anymore. Sure, it’s your priority and your goal is to write the best possible novel that you can write, but the reality is that there is much more to it. Here’s why. When you publish, you suddenly become much more than a writer. You have to be a marketing person, designer, public speaker, educator, contract negotiator, and all the other jobs that go into selling a book.

You have to be a business person.

You have to think of yourself as a business.

You are a business.

Publishing is an industry.

You are part of that industry.

So take a moment.

Think of yourself as a business. What is your distinctive quality that sets you apart from all the other writers in the world? Realize that that one distinctive quality is your competitive edge. Do you know that there is no other person on earth who can write what you write the way you write it? Nobody can offer readers what you have to offer. You are unique, with unique life experiences, and a unique perspective, and all of that uniqueness filters out through your writing. No one can tell your story. How can you spin that into your writing, marketing, designing, public speaking etc? Take a moment and think about that.

Do you have a budget? No? Why not? You are a business and you should have a budget. If you are going to self-publish you will need to hire an editor, a cover designer, and a marketer. You can, of course, do all those things yourself, but chances are you don’t have all of those skills. More importantly, you won’t have a whole lot of writing time if you do everything yourself. Realize too, if you are published by one of the Big 5 you still must (sometimes even contractually obligated) market yourself and chances are it won’t be free. I know that you just want to write. Sorry. It’s just the cost of doing business. You either pay money or time folks and you can’t always choose which budget you are going to spend from. Think about that for a moment. Make a budget. Even if it is an imaginary one.

Do you need an upgrade? You should never stop learning or growing in your craft. Even Jeffery Deaver, who was a keynote speaker at the last Colorado Gold Conference, sat in several workshops and took notes. And he’s a multi-time NYT best-selling author. Do you suck at dialogue? Maybe you should take a workshop on writing dialogue, and of course, you will budget for that. Think about what you need to improve.

I could go on and will next week but, for now, I don’t want you to panic. The point is to take a moment and plan ahead so you are prepared. I feel like this is your year.

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