Tuesday, February 21, 2023

More Than Simply Writing the Book


Terry here. This week we are talking about the business side of writing. The question is whether a background in any other kind of business give you a head start as a professional writer? If you were designing a course of study for a budding writer, what would the modules be? 

 I don’t know if a background in another business gives you a head start, but it does help to know the business of publishing if you plan to be a professional writer. To be successful in pretty much any other business you need to be organized, you need to learn the way the business runs, and what other people have done to attain success. 

 A lot of writers (most?) go into writing thinking it’s all creativity. That a writer’s job is to write the book. Period. Once the book is written, there’s this vague agenty, edity, publishy, promoty bit that somehow gets navigated, but many new writers pretend this has nothing to do with them. Alas, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The business part takes up if not as much time, at least as much mental energy as writing the book. 

 You need to know the business of publishing to make crucial decisions. If I were designing a course of study for a budding writer to dive into the business side, I’d tell them the need to consider the following:

 1) Are you going to find a traditional publisher, or go the independent route? What are the pros and cons of each? 

 2) If traditional, what agents should you query and how do you go about writing a query letter? What are you parameters for choosing an agent if more than one shows an interest? What publishers do you hope to interest? What are the pros and cons of small vs large publishers? How long are you willing to wait to see your book published? The process from getting an agent to actually seeing the book in print can easily take two years or longer. 

 3) If you are going to publish independent of a traditional publisher, you’ll need to decide whether you want to produce a printed book or e-book, or both? Will you learn how to design a book cover, format the book, choose paper and print style, procure ISBN numbers, or will you pay to have that done? 

 4) You also need to know something about the business of promotion and publicity. What’s the difference in the two things? Whether you are traditionally published or publish independently you will have to promote your book. What kind of promotion will you do? Will you do a book tour? Which social media platform will you use? How much are you willing to pay for publicity and promotion? Do you want to hire a professional, or do it yourself? I have a feeling if aspiring writers knew how much a writer had to engage in the business side, a good many of them may decide they have a sudden, burning interest in becoming a plumber or an electrician. 

 I think what an aspiring writer really needs to know is that to be a writer you need to write. But you also have to think about the business side if you hope to be a professional.

1 comment:

Kathy Waller said...

Thanks, Terry. Clear, concise, and invaluable.