American Christian Fiction Writers
Angie Breidenbach

Angela Breidenbach is Mrs. Montana International 2009 working with Hope’s Promise Orphan Ministries, the Jadyn Fred Foundation, and drawing awareness to Fair Trade practices. Angela’s calling is as a purposeful life coach and educator. She’s also certified in mentor/peer counseling as a Stephen Minister and Assisting Minister. She serves as the American Christian Fiction Writer's Publicity Officer and is a multi-award winning inspirational author and speaker. Not only did she walk the hard line of deciding to donate her mom's brain, but she is also on the brain donation list at the Brain Bank-Harvard McLean Hospital. She is married, has a combined family of six grown children, one grandson. Purposeful Living Educator & Coach. Personal growth = Powerful living! You can interact or learn more about Angela Breidenbach at these sites: on Wednesdays each week.

The Business of Fiction

Fiction, fantasy, fun! Enter the mind, a writer’s playground. Writing is often romanticized as creative expression. It happens in a glorious, sunny room full of light and inspiration. A fireplace warms the corner and either a friendly mutt or a cuddly cat sleeps on a mat by the flame. Words fly through the mind to the fingers and out onto the page already witty, wise, and wonderful. Fans line up for the brilliant autographed copy. The money rolls in. Right?

Eeerrk! Not so much. Writing is hard, brain-straining and nerve-wracking work for most writers, who sweat over each word, the plot, building believable characters takes time, talent, and skill—skills learned from classes, mentors, conferences, and voracious reading. Books are a labor of love, emphasis on labor.

But that’s not where the work ends. The classes and conferences offer skill growth and networking. Like any other business, networking is crucial. An author must put on the business suit.

The business of writing includes building a professional persona and tending to the financial necessities. Many authors avoid this chore out of shyness or lack of knowledge. When built into a plan, the business of writing becomes a part of the job rather than the enemy to tackle.

A job. People who write for a living realize it is a job. Hobby writing is a great way to spend spare time. But if publication and getting paid for writing matter, then it must be equal to a job even if it’s part-time.

All jobs have both enjoyable and not so enjoyable elements. Writing for a living isn’t any different. Some authors love the rough draft, others love the edits, and a few actually love marketing. Let’s take that a step further. Some authors are aware of how important running their writing careers like a business is to their success. Note: A business office has paperwork filed, communications managed, accounts receivable and payable, and taxes. If your writing business were handled like a professional office, what would need to change?

How well do you professionally manage your career? Take this simple quiz:

  1.  I have a desk and the tools to perform my work, such as a computer, printer, and access to the Internet.
  2.  I have a filing cabinet with a filing system.
  3.  I have an accounting system for what I spend and earn.
  4.  I have a separate business checking account.
  5.  I have a submission system to track where and when I submit work.
  6.  I work on a schedule.
  7.  I set aside time in my schedule to market my product.
  8.  I set aside time in my schedule to take additional training throughout the year, in fact, I plan for it annually.
  9.  I invest in the tools of my trade, including research books I will use repeatedly, ergonomic keyboard, comfortable chair, and continuing-education library.
  10.  I have someone I admire whom I mentor under.
  11.  I have someone whom I mentor.
  12.  I keep up with the changes in my industry.
  13.  I network with others in my industry.
  14.  I do weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews of my goals.
  15.  In my reviews, I am aware of my overhead costs and income.
  16.  I donate my firstfruits and contribute to my community.
  17.  I belong to professional organizations that fit my niche.
  18.  I go to conferences to learn, network, and build my business savvy.
  19.  I act like a business owner by voting: within the organizations I belong to, and I vote as a citizen representing my own private rights and small business concerns.
  20.  I look to the future growth of my business. (Some examples from other authors are public speaking for a fee, products downloaded from their Web sites, professional editing, or having multiple books rotating in the publishing world at the same time.)

How did you do on this mini-quiz? Are there some places you can grow? The idea isn’t to get overwhelmed if your business is in the development stage, but to recognize the need to treat writing as a career that has business needs. Once that mental shift is made, writing goes beyond the hobby into the professional.

Recently, several well-known publishers ventured into the self- and subsidy publishing arena. The decision is an informed and intelligent financial one by the company leaders to keep current and to fill open niches. Those that are business minded understand it was a business decision. Not emotional. Not harmful. Not scary, though it takes a willingness to risk.

Whether you agree or disagree with the decisions of publishing companies, they are running a business and must make choices that keep them in business. Take a look at your writing business. What are you doing to keep yourself in business? Will you have to shut your doors? Or will you stay abreast of the professional arena you entered? Yes, writing requires pouring out ourselves onto the page. But it also requires our being aware of the changing clime and how to adapt to keep our careers blossoming.

The American Christian Fiction Writers organization helps writers learn the process of writing and introduces the professionalism of writing as a business. Check off one of the quiz questions above by getting involved in the voting process this month. Visit and read about the benefits of membership, join the main loop for professional support, and take the free monthly classes offered to members. Remember to browse the archives, check out the author listings, and avail yourself of their expertise, and make sure you vote this month for the three open offices. Goodness, there are suddenly more checkmarks on that quiz! How many more would you like to check off?

ACFW can help meet many of your professional needs in setting up and/or supporting your established career in the business of fiction.