Authors are advised to treat their writing like a business
If you write solely for the fun of it or treat writing as a mere hobby, then don’t read this post. Seriously, it will just make you mad.
But if you want to succeed as a writer, regardless of how you define success, then this post should give you some ideas to consider. Please read on. Then let me know what you think about it.
Writing is a Business
When we treat our writing like a business it means we strategically pursue actions to meet the needs others have. We hope to earn a profit in doing so. This need we strive to fill is information, inspiration, or entertainment. Maybe all three. For nonfiction, we know things (or can find out things) that most people don’t know. For fiction we tell stories others want to read. We write to fill these needs. When we charge money for meeting the needs of others, we ensure we have the means to write more—and meet more needs.
A Book Is a Product
Yes, our books are creative works. Books are art, but they are also products; books provide a service to our audience.
A Series is a Product Line
If one book is a product, then a series is a product line. This is why beginning authors need to stay within one genre or one theme, so they can develop a product line and build a following around that line.
A Book Proposal is a Business Plan
At its most basic level, an author’s business plan is a book proposal. Look at the elements of a proposal. It outlines the theme and purpose of the book (the product), it lays out a vision for what it will accomplish, it talks about the need for the book, and it addresses the competition. It also proposes follow-up books (a product line).
At the very least, a book proposal informs our writing and guides us in producing a marketable book (product). No business will ever produce a product people don’t want. An author shouldn’t either.
We Need Backing
The purpose of a business plan is to raise funding, to procure investors. When it comes to publishing a book our business plan (our book proposal) is the means to get a publisher to back us, to invest in our product (our book).
In theory, an advance is a money to live on while we develop the product (write our book). Our publisher will produce the book for us, distribute it, and sell it.
If we self-publish our book, we may go to Kickstarter to raise funds or solicit friends and relatives. They’ll want to see a plan before they fork over the cash. Even if we self-fund our book, we would be foolish to do so without treating it as an investment.
Our marketing plan—often part of the book proposal—addresses how we will let others know about our book. Even if we go with a traditional publisher, they will expect us to market our book. If we self-publish, marketing is even more critical.
Writing and publishing a book requires thinking like a business person; we must become an entrepreneur, especially if we choose to self-publish.
Do you think of your book as a product? What do you think about treating writing as a business?
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.