The business of writing

There is no doubt that online publishing is transforming the industry and opening up wonderful opportunities for writers to control and manage their publishing careers. But with increased control comes increased responsibility.

DSC00070In her book From Pitch to Publication, UK literary agent, Carole Blake explains how agents and publishers seek out authors who are planning a career in writing. Of course they do. Publishing a book is an expensive and time-consuming business involving months of preparation, editing, marketing and promotional events and traditional publishing houses don’t want to spend all that money on an author who does not intend to become a professional writer.

The same holds true for self-published and indie writers. It doesn’t really matter that you may only ever write one book, the fact is, if you ask people to pay for your work, one can only assume you are putting yourself out there as a professional writer. If you want a professional writing career, then you need to approach it as you would any other business. As we all know, going the traditional publishing route doesn’t guarantee a literary gem, but it does give an author a head start in terms of available resources. Self-publishing authors, on the other hand, need to organise each stage of publication themselves.

This is the crux of the matter. As I mentioned in my previous post ‘Remind me again why I need an editor‘, publication is the process of transferring your private writing work to the public arena. The fact remains, however, that many indie/self-publishing authors are simply not aware of the work which goes into preparing a book for publication, particularly as many of the processes, such as editing, are traditionally ‘behind the scenes’ jobs.

You should remember that publication is not synonymous with printing. Nor is it just about writing. As an indie author in an open market, you are competing internationally with a huge number of other authors, both self- and traditionally published, and competition for readers’ attention and custom is fierce. 012jBasic business principles apply to self-publishing as to any other profession. Work out a short-term and long-term strategy; if your readers like your first book, they will be clamouring for more almost immediately, so you need to plan ahead. Editing, design and marketing services may be expensive – so budget for them. Work out your budget forecast like any other business to get the services you need.

There is no accounting for readers’ personal tastes and you won’t please everyone, but providing the best product possible for those who do want to read your book – one that makes reading a pleasure and not a chore – is a good place to start. Don’t forget, your aim is not only to attract readers initially, you also want to hold on to them and encourage repeat business. The most important way of ensuring that your readers will line up for your next release is to sell them a fantastic book in the first instance.

For more details on substantive (structural) editing, copy-editing and manuscript critiques, check out Book Nanny’s website at www.booknannyfictioneditor.com.

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