The comments of my last post led to a great conversation about how not having a business mindset will likely hurt authors. However, I didn’t say writers absolutely, positively must be business-minded. I don’t think writers without an entrepreneurial spirit or business sense are doomed.
The truth is that we can’t be good at everything. We all have weaknesses, whether that be craft or business sense or something else. And just as some amount of craft can be passed off to an editor, the business aspects of writing can also be handed over to someone else.
Is that risky? Sure. Whenever money is involved, we risk people trying to screw us.
The same risk comes up with anything, however. We risk spending money on inferior editors, cover artists, publicists, etc. The saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself” applies equally well any time we hand over control of an aspect of our work.
No Business Sense? Don’t Give Up
As I stated in the comments:
“Some people don’t have the entrepreneurial spirit. That is a fact. Some people couldn’t run a business to save their life. That is a fact.”
I don’t want those facts to prevent talented writers from even trying to get themselves published. The push to force writers into a business model could make those without business savvy feel there’s no place for them in the industry. Many creative people don’t have a money-wise bone in their body, and I’d hate to lose their stories from the world.
So rather than saying that writers must be entrepreneurs or business-minded people, I say everyone should be fully aware of their weaknesses and have a plan to deal with them. As discussed in the comments, those writers without business sense need to watch out for:
- Unnecessarily limiting themselves to a single publisher, when another might provide better pay or perks.
- Having less sense of accountability (this might work in reverse for some people who like externally imposed deadlines).
- Making sure their career plan includes marketing themselves and building a platform.
- Getting emotionally involved in situations rather than making the best business decision.
- Working as hard as they would if they were working for themselves.
- Going the self-publishing route without being willing to invest in themselves, as a half effort won’t bring full results.
All of those risks to not seeing writing as a business are real, but they’re not insurmountable. So those writers have a choice to make:
- They can concentrate on markets that require less business sense, such as being a staff writer, part of a publisher’s stable (like Harlequin’s category lines), etc.
- They can find good, trustworthy partners (agents, accountants, lawyers, assistants, etc.) to help them with the business aspects (sometimes even a spouse can be a great sounding board for making business decisions).
- Or they can withdraw into denial and pretend that this career—which involves figuring complicated taxes and contracts—is only about the writing. *smile*
There is room in the publishing industry to be successful without business sense. And no writer should give up their writing dreams because they don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit. But they should know their options and the risks just as much as any writer should. Even self-publishing might be possible if they have a strong enough team, but it would be more difficult than usual.
As I stated in my last post, it’s okay for us to have different philosophies toward writing. And I really don’t think there is any right or wrong answer. Withdrawing into denial wouldn’t be a smart choice, but neither is saying that writing is only about the money.
Writing Is about More Than Just the Money
My friend Gene Lempp left a comment comparing the publishing industry to a gold rush, and how we’re all prospecting according to our best guess. Except those who were most successful in the California Gold Rush weren’t the prospectors. It was the merchants selling shovels and gold pans to the starry-eyed hopefuls.
Similarly, if writing were only about making money, we’d give this up and start a business selling services to the poor schmucks who still have delusions of being a writer. *smile*
I don’t have any plans to give up writing, and I know I’m not alone. We want to be paid for our work. But we also have a passion for the writing itself. Of making our thoughts and imaginations manifest on the page. So even those of us who see our writing as a business see it as more than just a money-making venture.
This is the real reason why I don’t like seeing one faction of writers beat up on another. No matter our differences, our similarities are more important. And whether we have business sense or not, we have the passion for words in common with other writers. I prefer to concentrate on that fact.
Do you think writers without business sense are doomed? What advice can you think of to help those writers? Do you disagree with me—Is writing just about the money for you? How/why did you pick this career over others?Pin It