The online diary of a dreamer creating Contemporary Romantic Fiction - because Every Woman needs Love and Laughter in her Life.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Hobby or Career?

Career Week. Writing as a Business. Some questions.

There is a plethora of ‘How-To’ business books for entrepreneurs in the shops at the moment, and many of them have become bestsellers.

There are common principles in most of these books, which have been reframed for a specific audience – including women.

I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the key business principles and work through how they could apply to the Fiction Writer.
So this week I am going to ask myself one question each day.
Let's dive in with the big one.


Is writing your hobby, or are you doing this to MAKE MONEY and make it a business?

If you want to write for yourself and love doing it – that’s brilliant, and you should be proud.

But it is not a business. It is a hobby [at least at the moment] and you have to be brave and acknowledge it is a hobby.

Let’s assume that you want to write fiction that you can sell to a publisher, who will GIVE YOU MONEY for the honour of putting your words onto paper inside covers and sending them out into the world.

They are in business.

They want to MAKE MONEY so that they can GIVE YOU MONEY.
It’s as simple as that.

Some women seem to have a problem expressing the fact that they want to make MONEY.
They will happily talk about their lives, family, kiddies. But not about how much MONEY they want to turn over this year.
And I don’t think this is simply an example of British culture where we are taught that talking about money is vulgar. I think it is more widespread than that.

FACT. A lot of unpublished writers - fiction and non-fiction alike, create a manuscript and then look around for a publisher where it would be a good fit in the hope that an editor will love it and buy it.
FACT. Published writers know the precise market where they want to submit - because they are looking for CUSTOMERS for a product they are making.
FACT. Your writing, your WORK, is a product and you are going to have to sell it to another human being if you want readers to have access to the world and the characters that you have created.
I make no excuses if that sounds cold. I know some people find it difficult to accept that the blood, sweat and tears that went into the work is boiled down to that truth.
You are creating, designing and fabricating something wonderful and special. But if you want other folk to read it- then you have to think of it as a commodity.

Congratulations. You are now in Show Business.

So. What is YOUR answer to Question One?
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Anastacia, Left Outside Alone.


Nell said...

If you write for your own pleasure then that's fine but the moment you start to think in terms of becoming published then you need to accept that you are becoming a professional writer - with all that it entails. Deadlines, promotion, and money. So you have to be businesslike, make a business plan and when you sell, have at least some idea of how you see your career as a writer.

Janet said...

Deadlines, promotion, and money.

It's the promotion part that I'm never sure about.
It takes lots of time (constantly updating a website, writing an intriguing daily blog, giving out promtional bookmarks, running reader competitions, sending out a monthly newsletter.)

Does anyone know what actually works and what doesn't

Would time be better spent on writing. Is writing the best posiible books the most valuable thing an author can do? Does promo actually help?

Ray-Anne said...

Nell- I completely agree with you. Once you have made that decision to become a professional writer, then you have to bite the bullet.

Janet- hello and welcome. There seems to be a lot of info on the internet on what works and what is the expected norm, but as to how effective it is?

Since I am not published, I cannot comment on personal experience, but I know writers who become quite obsessive about Amazon ratings etc and check sales to assess the impact of promotional materials and new book launches on backlist etc. I would expect advise from industry pros such as your agent and/or publisher as to what is the most effective use of time.