Monday, September 27, 2010

Can writers handle the business side of writing?

When we decided to become professional writers, and I use the word professional to determine a difference between those of us who write without receiving any sort of compensation, and those of us who do regardless of how many zeros follow that first number ;-)

From whenever you made that decision to submit your work to a publisher to when you received that first sales phone call…did you ever stop and think about the business side of writing?

Where did you expect to fit within your publishing house? How important do you rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 to your publisher?

I am a member of so many different writing groups, and I read so many boards that it still continues to amaze me when I read things that lead me to believe that the answer to the questions above is 1 (where 1 is the most important).

We as authors have stories that we want to tell. We hope (although there may not be) that there is an audience, and a publisher that cares about those stories.

But, what I think authors forget is that writing is a business. Publishers are in the business of selling books for money. You might have the best agent in the world, but that agent won’t be able to sell your book on the streets out of the back of his/her car if he/she can’t convince a publisher to pick it up because it will appeal to a certain audience. If that audience doesn’t buy in…you can bet your next book will be holding up the legs of a coffee table near you.

In your writing career, how many publishers have you had? How many contracts have you lost or broken? If you took emotion out of it: they didn’t return my calls, they didn’t answer my emails, is your publisher a good business? Do they have good editors, graphic designers, public relations, etc.?

Can writers handle the business side of writing?

4 comments:

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

The business does seem to be overwhelming at times, but it's the only one in town if you have a dream to sell. I write because I love it so wouldn't stop even if they didn't sell, but my primary goal is to sell. I play the game.

Lee Lopez said...

They can...but it can be a challenge if you hate that side of writing, which many authors do. Suddenly you go from being a writer, artist with words to a business person, which just isn't as fun or interesting. Than there's the question of promoting one's work. A real challenge
challenge most including myself.

Jill James said...

From the moment you submit to that first agent or editor or even contest you have moved from writing for yourself to writing for others.

Make no mistake, this is a business and I've taken a lot of knocks and hits to have semi-almost-not so soft skin. Still working on that tough part. LOL

Joanne said...

Gosh,
I almost hate to admit it, but writing is a business if you want to actually sell. Thought-provoking post.