Ok, it’s time for some hard truths on whether or not fiction writing is a business.
And I’m coming at you from the angle that yes, yes indeed.
And you are the CEO.
You’re also the CFO, CMO,
I hear it all the time: “I just want to write.”
I get it. You’re a writer.
But sorry hon, if you want to make a living doing what you love and what you feel in the depths of your being is your purpose in life, you absolutely must treat it like a business.
Even if you have an agent and editor and publisher, you are still required to treat it like a business because you are the product.
Yes, you, not the book.
Your words are a part of you.
The book is merely the tool to get to you.
You have to do the marketing and the publicity and the Instagramming…as much as you hate it.
At Writer’s Digest Conference 2019, a panel of publicists from the Big Five discussed this exact question.
The panel host, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said, “I wholeheartedly believe all authors, regardless of who’s publishing their books, should have a fundamental understanding of marketing so they can make informed decisions about where to invest their time, and when/if necessary, their money when building their own platform, and more importantly, when trusting someone else to market their work on their behalf.”
But here’s what I say to that:
There are parts to every job that drive us crazy.
I love my job (I’m a public relations type in my day job) but I hate having to take pictures at events.
I want to be writing articles and speeches and giving press conferences (believe it or not – lol!)
Yet, I take those stupid pics because I know they will go well with the written word.
Pics garner more interaction online than any other medium.
So if I want people to read the article later, I must include pics with it.
The same can be said for fiction writing.
We love the writing.
We love our characters.
Some of us even love the prep work (shout out to plotters).
But the rest? Not so much.
And that’s OK, as long as we do the rest anyway.
Best there’s more!
To help put this in perspective, I dug up some super cool stats that should motivate you to rethink the way you approach the side of the writing career you don’t like.
- Publishing is a $25 billion industry in the United States
- Romance and Mystery/Thrillers make the most in the fiction market at a little over $2 billion
- 679 million print books sold in the United States
- 162 million ebooks sold in the United States
- 1.68 million self-published ebooks released in the US in 2018
- 65% of American consumers admitting to reading at least one book last year
With those staggering numbers, you can’t write a book and wish it into the hands of readers.
Here’s the Bottom Line
Once you believe that writing is a small business, that you are a cottage industry, you absolutely can build a career.
Whether you go traditional or indie, the path to success depends on you.
What is your goal? That will help you determine your path.
But regardless of the path, you will have to do the bulk of the marketing.
If you’re not willing to do it, then you aren’t going to have a writing career. It’s that simple.