The Business Of Writing — Part III

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This is the extremely tardy third part of three-part series “The Business of Writing.” Part I and Part II, while very old, still might be of some use when it comes to crafting a business plan and platforming. This third part is largely about self-care and growth opportunities.

You have your writing business plan in place, and you are starting to build your platform, now what? Well, now you need to turn the focus back on yourself through resume building, pursuing “writerly”┬álearning opportunities, and self-care. Continue reading


Staying Uplifted While Querying


The querying process is one of the hardest steps for a writer to face — even more so than the daunting editing process. A finished manuscript, after all, is our baby, and it’s hard to kick your baby out into the cold cruel world. And trust me, it can be a cruel world.

I’ve been in the midst of querying since February, with a few breaks in between when I’ve been overly busy. And I have been met with rejection after rejection, in some cases where my name couldn’t even be copied and pasted — I have a new appreciation of “Dear John” letters, ha!

However, I keep plodding along in hopes that my book will eventually find the right agent who will click with it and be as passionate about the project as I am (which is extremely important in your agent). Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to keep going, especially when you continue to receive form letters without any feedback — no idea if your pitch is failing; if it’s something to do with your book or your writing; or if the market is just over-saturated in the genre.

Still, no matter how disheartening, a writer must press on if they are to have any hope of finding an agent or publisher. Here are some of the things that have kept me going during the process. Continue reading

The business of writing — Part II

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Time to get connected and build your platform.

Well, you have your business plan typed and printed, possibly stored in a sleek binder … or stuffed in a lock box or file cabinet. So what next? Well, you have to make good on that marketing plan that you spelled out in your business plan. What? Isn’t that my agent’s and publisher’s job? The answer is no, or at least, not anymore. With the advent of social media, the internet and a variety of other factors, writers are having to step up even more to market and sell their work.

The one thing I have discovered as I query agents with my novel is they want to see my Web presence. From blogs to websites, some agents want to see them included in your query letter to see how marketable you are and what your reach is. I recall one agent stating on their website that if they google a writer, they want the writer to appear on page one of the search. For some of us unfortunate souls, this is impossible. Just try googling Sarah Wright, all you will get is a supermodel — I can’t beat that. Despite that, create a presence even if you can’t get on page one: Just having a presence is better than not having one at all.

While it might seem like putting the cart before the horse, your marketing and platform building should occur prior to peddling your wares/writings because platforms can take time to build. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t land a large platform/following overnight since not everyone will meet instant success. Whatever you do, don’t covet the success of others; instead, focus on your own projects and carry on: Platform building is not a race.

There are several avenues to choose from in regards to building your platform: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Each site has its own pros and cons, so it is really a matter of which ones you find easiest to use or better suit your approach. Also consider using a combination of these sites, which only serves to increase your reach and platform. Try to keep your posts on these sites regular and relateable; it also doesn’t hurt to stick with a theme. And while you are on these sites, be sure to network. Follow people, be active on their blogs or accounts; after all, it will only increase your visibility while also building connections and potentially increasing your own knowledge base.

To help yourself along, take your calendar and mark the days you intend to post on it. Plan out your posts or articles in advance. You can write out a bunch of articles/posts then post them at your leisure. Strategies like these will only help you as you work on building your platform. Also don’t rule out the possibility of doing guest blogs or joining a network of blogs.

And perhaps one of the most important things is a website. Every writer should have a website: But remember quality is key! I cannot stress that enough because nothing can repel eyes like a poorly put-together website, particularly one that uses just html coding or worse… a html table. If you can’t put together your own professional crafted website, it is more than worth it to hire someone to prepare one for you. Similarly, have a professional email account, which mean no

As with most businesses, there will be trial and error. What works for your writing buddies might not work for you just like that plan you have so meticulously put together is failing to meet your expectations. Whatever you do, don’t give up! Dust yourself off and try an alternative approach or soldier up on your current approach. Also browse around, see what your fellow bloggers and writers are doing and take inspiration from what they are doing right.

“The business of writing” will be a three-part series. The final part will be about building your portfolio and resume as a writer. Visit Part I here.

The business of writing — Part I

Just today, I covered a session dedicated to small business owners and entrepreneurs, which was sponsored by the county economic development corporation and a local chamber.

While the topics were geared toward business owners, I walked away from the event with my head spinning with ideas — after all, whether you want to believe it or not, writing is a business and writers are very much like small business owners or entrepreneurs. We face several of the same challenges: limited resources, how to mount a successful marketing campaign, how best to get our “product” out to our “consumers” and, perhaps most importantly, how to get someone to invest in our “product.”

This is why, drum roll… writers need a business plan. Already I can hear readers’ minds screeching to a halt at the thought. Business plans are for businesses, right? Wrong. When you start to send out your baby, you need a plan. Not only that, you have to detach yourself from your baby and view it as a product — something agents, publishers and readers are going to buy. By doing this, you will gain an edge, because you will have answers that publishers and agents want to see. Answers like: who is the target audience, how are you going to reach that audience, what is the market like for similar books and what resources do you have at your disposal to achieve a successful run of your novel.

A business plan is especially important if you plan to self-publish, because you are the only person pushing your novel! You will need to have a marketing plan in place, one that is filled with social media, meet-in-greets, readings, plus local and regional contacts (like local media, libraries, bookstores, etc.) to get get your novel out there.

If you are dead-set on being a professional writer, your business plan will have to extend beyond just that one book and encompass your entire career (pretend it is a business), which includes all additional projects you intend to tackle. This plan will then need to be updated on a set schedule like every two, three or five years to include future developments or new projects.

So what goes into a business plan? First, there is the executive summary, where you state your goals and plans: what markets you want to explore, where do you want to see yourself (your “business”) in five years, how many projects you hope to publish in a year and in what markets if you are exploring several, how many contests do you hope to enter, etc. The second portion is the business description, in which you expand on your goals in your first section.

The third section highlights your product(s) aka your writing project(s) and their markets: will they be geared toward different age groups, different genres or even different formats like books, e-books or short stories for magazines — or perhaps, you want to throw in a non-fiction article? In this section you will want to make sure you highlight who your target audience is for each of your writing projects. Your fourth section will involve a lot of research because it is your market analysis, where you look at similar books/authors in the same genre with similar target audiences and research steps they have taken to make their book(s) successful from marketing to writing styles.

Next you will want to highlight your marketing plans, better known as: how you are going to get your work out there from signing events to social media. Jot them all down right here. Directly after this, you will also want to outline your operations and management plan. There you will detail your writing plans, weekly writing goals, etc., for each of your projects. Be specific and set firm goals. You will want to include time you plan to spend building your platforms and in marketing your projects here. Be sure to create several schedules for each project and activity, preferably in the form of quick, accessible graphics.

Now highlight your qualifications, which are very important when it comes to selling your projects since you will include them in the third or four paragraph of your query letters. In this section also include how you want to improve your writing qualifications from taking writing courses and attending workshops to submitting your work to more magazine or contests. Finally, reiterate your goals in your final paragraph. For added an added feeling of professionalism, sign the document and hold yourself to it; after all, you are making a contract with yourself in way.

Take your time as you prepare your business plan: think it out and be realistic. It can be as long or as short as your need it to be.

There are several templates available just by Googling “business plans.” Microsoft Office Online also has several templates available, and I am sure Apple probably has similar templates available.

“The business of writing” will be a three-part series. Tune in next week for marketing, platform and social media.

Stay calm and query on — Wrapping up September

Is September really almost over? It’s hard to believe that October is just around the corner, especially since for me it feels like September just got started. I have to say this month has been wonderful for my writing. Not only have I begun to query “Passage” (which is quite stressful!) to various agents, but I’ve managed to complete a short story I’ve been working on for quite sometime and get work done on a SciFi novel I’ve also been trying to complete.

Perhaps, my greatest rallying cry this month came in the form of a blog post that my brother emailed to me, entitled How to be a Professional Writer by Correia45 (plus its predecessor). Being a writer is my job, but after reading these blog posts, I realized I was treating my fictional work more as a hobby. I would go in spurts where I would write, followed by prolonged periods of procrastination; I had lost the drive and good practices that burned in me throughout high school and college, and had allowed external factors to hamper me. But now, I see the errors of my ways, and since reading those blog posts, I have been working on my writing or others every night, minus one day off, treating it like it should be: like job.

One of my writing friends had made a really good point when I met her at a coffee shop: I can dedicate so much time to writing during NaNoWriMo, so I should be able to do that during the rest of year. And she is right. Dedication to the craft should spread out throughout the year — writers should dedicate the same amount of time to writing as they do during NaNoWriMo; at least, if they are dedicated writers, who seriously want to make a career out of writing. And I have to face it: NaNoWriMos are not helping me.

I have not felt the NaNoWriMo drive for quite some time — not since that first event and the following JulNoWriMo. Nowadays, more often than not, I find NaNoWriMo time disheartening and frustrating, though this year might be different since I now know people who NaNo locally, and we can get together. It is always nice to belong to something and surround oneself with fellows who are striving to achieve the same goal. But largely, for the rest of the year and into 2014 and beyond, I’m going to focus on the larger pictures, not on a monthly binge; no, it will be a year-round binge.

And oh, what a year-round binge it will be! Short stories, novels, novellas and so on — they will all fill out my year, along with the writing that is sent to me for proofing, which I’ve been getting quite a bit of lately to my pleasure. And as I get others work, I am pressured toward biting the bullet and finally purchasing the Chicago Manual of Style (though it is so expensive!) because sometimes I just need “the source,” especially as AP Style conflicts in my head with other styles.

All and all, October is set up to be a promising month. Just have to keep up the momentum, keep time open for writing or editing and continue to view my writing projects as a job.

*** In other news, September added to my list of things I never expect when I came to work at the local paper. All on the same day, I got into a pasture with a full-grown bull and then got to see a calf born. Pretty awesome day, all in all. ***