June 23, 2008

The Business of Writing

By J Sherer

Profit. Shareholder wealth. Net income. Growth. Terms you might hear tossed around a table by a couple businessmen in khaki slacks polo shirts. Business has become increasingly significant in today’s world. Because of that, it has been studied, analyzed, and critiqued on a massive scale. That means there’s a wealth of resources regarding how to be successful in the business world.

In the writing world, though, “business” quickly becomes a dirty word. How many times have you read a novel and scoffed, “This guy has no talent! How was this published? He must have a great agent.” Or, maybe you’ve seen the rejection letter that states, “This is a good story, but it’s not right for our audience.”

Poor writers get published and make millions. Great writers struggle for years with little or no success. As writers, we shake our heads, frown, and blame a fairly generic term: “business.”

Are we being fair? Yes. Business principles will help or hurt your writing. But, they can go even one step farther: they can help you hone your craft.

There are two sides to the business of writing:
  1. Getting your work out on the market for consumption. The final product. Business principles apply directly, because publishers are looking for customers. Money is exchanged. It’s a business transaction.
  2. Developing our craft, polishing the art, and letting our creativity loose on the page. Business principles apply here? Yes, but far more subtly.
My intention is to analyze both sides so that you can look at your writing from another perspective. Hopefully, it’ll cause you to think about things in a new way, and maybe it’ll even help improve your writing.

Business is a lot more than just money. There’s a science to business that can be replicated across job functions and industry types. Writers can use the same principles executives use to drive success.

As I dive into this series, I would love some feedback. Is there anything that you’re interested in knowing about business? Maybe you’ve heard some buzzwords but you’re not sure they relate? Let me know and I’ll integrate that into this series. Should be really fun.


Anonymous said...

this is a really interesting blog and i think i will be reading it regularly i am a prospective author and to me this is very interesting!

Sherer said...

excellent stuff J. I can't wait to dive into this series. The more i am involved in the business, the more I see its simply about the exchange of whatever value there may be. And writing along with words is on of the most rudamentary ways of expressing ourselves! Thanks. You may consider joining the Society of Midnight Wanderers - they are all about creative writing and lectures. hit me back if your interested

J Sherer said...

Thanks for the comments! It's always good to hear positive feedback, and I appreciate what you have to say.

This series is going to be tough. Why? Well, people are passionate about their writing, and I'm going to ask them to think in ways they aren't always accustomed to. "My art is my escape! I don't want to bring my day job to the page!"

I understand completely, but I think these principles apply across the board, so I'd love for writers to be able to utilize them.

Thanks again!