Independent authors wear many hats, not just the one emblazoned ‘writer'. Bethany Cadman explores the idea that every author needs to treat writing like a business in order to thrive.
When we think of writers, we imagine arty, creative types. We visualize daydreamers who have chosen the less trodden path, who go with the flow, are arty, scatty, and loveably disorganized.
We conjure images of people, casually dressed, with mile-high piles of paper on their desks, and Post-It notes stuck to their hair, those who are caffeine-addicted, emotional, brilliant beasts who adore adventures and riveting conversation and love, more than anything, telling stories to everyone and anyone who will listen.
When we think of business people, we imagine those who are more stoic and sensible. We envisage smart, punctual people, those who are suited and booted with sleek hair and polished shoes.
We picture highly organized, strategic, spreadsheet-loving souls who stop at nothing to get what they want.
These two types of people are so at odds with one another, yet most writers could do with taking a leaf or two out of a businesspersons book. This doesn’t mean they have to compromise their ideals or make their life any less enjoyable.
However, by applying some typical business strategies to their writing, writers will see their productivity increase, their progression accelerate and become ever closer to reaching their writing goals.
So what are the things writers should do to achieve this? In this article, we explore some of the accessible and actionable ways a writer can start to treat their writing like a business.
Any business owner knows that organization is key to the smooth and successful running of day to day operations. Writers too need to get organized if they want to be at the top of their game.
To become more organized you need to have a plan. Start with your end goal and then work out the steps that you need to get you there.
These steps should make up your action plan, and from there you need to figure out how much time it will take you to complete each step, as well as the resources you need. Then you can create a realistic schedule and will know what you need to do and when from the very beginning.
Businesses don’t stay stagnant, they all aspire to improve and expand over time, and writers should feel the same about their work.
Not only do you want to develop as a writer, but also to build a bigger fanbase and reach a wider audience. Put tools in place to monitor your progress and challenge yourself to ‘grow’ each month by setting yourself achievable, clear targets whether they relate to your work, i.e., ‘finish ten chapters' or marketing your work, i.e., ‘getting 100 new followers on social media' or ‘increasing book sales by 25%'.
Even if you are experiencing success with your novel, it is essential to continue to progress and improve, and never, ever get too comfortable.
A good business is nothing without its customers, and writers are nothing without their readers. It is crucial, therefore, to pay attention to your readers and listen to their needs.
Just as a business would reach out to customers to find out what they want and whether they are satisfied with the services they provide, a good writer will spend time nurturing their fanbase by communicating with them, responding to comments and listening to their feedback, and by giving them something valuable.
Just as loyal, returning customers are the foundation from which successful businesses are built, loyal, returning fans are what will help authors go from strength to strength.
Research & Education
A good business is always learning and trying to improve through the way they run their operations, how they treat their employees, the quality of their products and services and their customer satisfaction rates.
They do this by educating themselves, by discovering trends, by researching their competitors, by identifying what problems their customers have and providing solutions.
Writers should also dedicate themselves to learning about the craft of writing. They can do this through reading, through experimenting, through researching their genre and studying the delicate art of writing and storytelling and applying this to their work.
Writers, now more than ever, know that writing a book is only half the battle. Marketing plays an enormous part in determining the popularity of a book, and so the writer's who familiarize themselves with different marketing techniques and learn how to implement these will boost their books' chances of reaching interested readers.
Understanding how to use social media, promote offers, get in the press, and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog and newsletter will all strengthen your author platform and brand, and can be an invaluable way to ensure that as many people as possible discover your writing.
Hours, Holiday and Pay!
Last but not least, writers who treat their writing as a business should also remember to treat themselves as its employees. This means fair working hours, time off and making sure you are reasonably compensated for your efforts too.
Of course, we can’t predict how much money our books are going to make, but rewarding yourself for reaching goals and just being aware of the value of your time means you will appreciate yourself as an employee and be more motivated to keep up the good work!
To do ourselves and our work justice we must recognize all the roles we must play, and start being more businesslike to give our writing the very best chance of success.
[Note from Joanna: For more on this subject, check out my book, Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur.]
Do you treat your writing like a business or a hobby? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Bethany Cadman is the author of Doctor Vanilla’s Sunflowers and is a freelance writer and blogger. She has an MA in Creative Writing and has just finished her second novel, SWAP, which should be hitting the bookshelves soon! Learn more about her work at BethanyCadman.co.uk.