Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Understanding the Business of Writing

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Welcome to Week U of Authors' Tips - A to Z of Writing. 

If this is the first time you're visiting this series, here's a quick recap:

Authors share their tips on writing fiction and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This week, I focus on Understanding the Business of Writing.

Read on... and don't forget to share your thoughts in the comment box.


Get this straight all you aspiring writers. Writing is a business. For those who think it's your passion that fuels your writing and will do so for the next 5,10 or 15 years... here's a little reality check. Two years after you have poured your blood, sweat and tears into your debut fiction novel and found no publisher wanting to publish it, the passion will shrivel up and die very soon.

Sure, you might be the one-in-a-million breakthrough writer to find a publisher who is willing to sign you up for a three-series book deal and a six figure advance. A second scenario, and a more likely one: you are signed on for a book deal but the advance is a pittance and after the initial euphoria, you find that your wonderful book is just one of many other books in your publisher's 'schedule'. Your book is neither awarded the prominent display in book stores nor the marketing support. Before long you're just another mid-list author with a title to your name. By the time you get down to writing your next book, your passion has dimmed and only sheer willpower and grit keeps you going. And the hope that the next time around, your publisher will give your title a little more attention. Maybe. Maybe not.

So here are a few things to keep in mind if you are really serious about your fiction writing and don't want to end up with only a single published title to your name and many dashed hopes of a brilliant (money-making) writing career.

Treat Writing Like a Business Enterprise

Chart out a Business Plan for your writing career. Keep in mind that no matter how brilliant your writing is, your debut book is only an entry into the world of publishing. You need to build your body of work over a period of time and there is only way to do it - by writing consistently.You may choose to work on one big writing project (a novel for instance) at a time or a combination of one big and a couple of smaller projects (short stories). But having a plan ready and working on it without burning yourself out is the smart way to do it.

Create a Digital Footprint for your Work

It's important to have an author platform - be it a website or social media channels (like Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) where you can showcase your writing and build your reader base. Again consistency is the key. Choose the channels that you're most comfortable with and that help you connect with your target audience. A little bit of research will help you figure out where the readers who like to read your kind of books hang out -- and engage with them.

Making Connections

While writing is lonely work, there is a also a more 'social' aspect to it. Connect with like minded authors. Make sure to check out their work and offer support. And you'll be surprised by how much support and encouragement you'll receive in return.

Emerging Writing-Related Opportunities

There are scores of opportunities out there for the enterprising writer -- from doing writing workshops, ghostwriting, writing short scripts for filmmakers and more. Keeping yourself updated on emerging writing related opportunities is part of growing your writing business. It's definitely a good idea to attend a literary festival or two in a year to identify potential opportunities and network with potential collaborators.

Writing is a career like any other and approaching it with the right mindset will help you become a more successful writer. Good luck!

Here are some useful resources on the business of writing:

The Creative Penn

Jane Friedman

David Gaughran


Happy Writing! And do share your thoughts in the comment box below. :)

Don't forget to check out the other U posts in this series:

Devika Fernando on Using the Senses

Preethi Venugopala on Unique Selling Proposition