Here’s a trick question: What’s the difference between a writing “business” and an individual writer? One may be tempted to say things like: Amount of investment, or number of employees, or number of office locations. But all of those answers would be wrong!
Read on to find out what makes writing into a successful “business” – even for a single-author operation.
THINKING MAKES IT SO
That’s right! As long as one has the mindset of a businessperson, even an individual can be a business force to reckon with. And when you think like a business, you’re bound to succeed like one. Not that individual’s can’t succeed – it’s just that when you run your single-author career like a “business”, you’ll definitely fast-track success.
And here’s how to do so:
1) Is it worthwhile?: Before a business undertakes any project, the owner will always think of the benefits the project will provide him/her. Often, a cost/benefit assessment of the project will indicate if it’s worthwhile moving forward. And that’s exactly what individual writers should do. Writing the occasional piece for personal satisfaction is great, but by doing an assessment of your book/novel first, you’ll be able to tell whether:
a) It is the right topic to write about
b) There is an audience that will buy the book
c) You have the right connections in place to publish, promote and market the book
d) You can succeed (measured in terms of money, fame, peer acknowledgement, industry recognition)
Why start a writing project if you don’t have a chance of success?
2) Is there a plan?: No project, including a self published book, novel or magazine, can succeed without a well thought out business plan. Dates, times, important milestones, funding, distribution channels, and publishing methods – all of these need to be planned ahead. Otherwise, once you’ve finished your manuscript, you’ll be asking yourself the question: Now what?
3) Is your record keeping good enough?: Whether you are writing for yourself, or whether you are writing for someone else, it matters not! The important thing is for you to know exactly how well you did. And for that, you need to keep excellent records. Track your time. Track your schedules. Track your finances. Track your successes and failures.
If you intended to make a profit out of the writing project, good financial records will tell you if you succeeded. If you intended to get your book out on time, and didn’t quite manage that, your time and schedule records will show you exactly where you went wrong. Good record keeping is a great way to improve yourself when it’s time for the next book!
4) Are you promoting too much?: It’s always tempting to jump at an offer to promote your book. But there is such a thing as “over promoting”. Businesses have budgets for marketing, advertising and promotion. Entrepreneurs calculate their Return On Investment (ROI) before committing to a particular promo strategy – and so should individual self published authors. Resist the temptation to dish out too many free copies of your book at signing or reading events. And don’t spend too much time, effort or money on events where the cost/benefit just doesn’t add up in your favour.
The simplest way for self published authors to get into the “business mindset” is to think of themselves as being accountable to someone else. If you don’t meet your daily writing targets, think what someone else would say to you had he/she been monitoring you. If you consistently missed every writing deadline you set for yourself, do you think your “boss” would still let you keep your job?
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Self published authors, just like their corporate-sponsored peers, are passionate individuals. However, let’s face it: Everyone would also like to enjoy success along the way (money, fame, opportunities) while stroking their passions. Creating a “business mentality” to your writing will help you enjoy the best of both worlds by creating a successful business that also fuels your passion for writing.
It’s time for you to get serious about the business of writing!