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
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:
- I have a desk and
the tools to perform my work, such as a computer, printer, and access
to the Internet.
- I have a filing
cabinet with a filing system.
- I have an
accounting system for what I spend and earn.
- I have a separate
business checking account.
- I have a submission
system to track where and when I submit work.
- I work on a
- I set aside time in
my schedule to market my product.
- I set aside time in
my schedule to take additional training throughout the year, in fact, I
plan for it annually.
- I invest in the
tools of my trade, including research books I will use repeatedly,
ergonomic keyboard, comfortable chair, and continuing-education
- I have someone I
admire whom I mentor under.
- I have someone whom
- I keep up with the
changes in my industry.
- I network with
others in my industry.
- I do weekly,
monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews of my goals.
- In my reviews, I am
aware of my overhead costs and income.
- I donate my
firstfruits and contribute to my community.
- I belong to
professional organizations that fit my niche.
- I go to conferences
to learn, network, and build my business savvy.
- 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
- 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 www.acfw.com and read about the
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.