If You’re an Author, You’re in Business

I recently completed another five-week “Writing for Fun and Profit” series at a local college, and students still appear surprised at how important the business angle is to being a successful writer.

When you write–when you affix your idea to a specific form (like words affixed to a page), you create intellectual property. That property has value just as your personal property or real estate property has value.

You don’t typically give away your personal property nor your home, so it’s hard for me to understand why writers give away their intellectual property. If you’re not giving it away, the alternative is to sell it–either in manuscript form or in final published form.

If you’re selling something, you’re in business. You’re in business before your first sale. Think about it. Stores invest in inventory and storefront (whether brick and mortar or online) before they ever make a sale. Sales people invest in training before they go out into the marketplace to sell.

So, if you’re an author, you’re in business. And every business is in the following four businesses:

  1. the primary business that creates the product or service
  2. the marketing business that markets the product or service
  3. the service business that strives to meet expectations of both vendors and customers
  4. the people business that makes connections and builds relationships

Business number one is the reason you’re in business in the first place. You’ve discovered something you’re excited about and you want to offer to others.

Business number two may take you out of your comfort zone, but if people don’t know about your product, they won’t buy it.

Business number three involves both vendors and customers. Your vendor may be your editor, your proofreader, and if you self-publish, your designer and printer. You need to keep your promises to your vendors as well as your promises to your customers to be successful in business.

Business number four is crucial to your success. People do business with people they know and like. People give referrals to businesses they trust. If you’re not connected to people, you won’t stay in business very long.

Writing is a solitary activity. Many authors cringe at the thought of being business people. But if you’re an author, you’re in business. Look at the marketplace. Every successful author works his or her business well. You can too.

Happy writing!

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3 Responses to “If You’re an Author, You’re in Business”


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