Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Business of writing

I talk to authors and writers all the time and one thing that seems to be a common thread, is how so many of us do not look at writing as a job. We artists and introverted types feel that it is bad to push our own work. We seem to think by doing so we are full of pride and kind of like a whore. Out on the streets with a mini skirt looking for someone to buy what we are selling.

But as I look around the book world I see a business. The authors who sell a ton of books are themselves marketing crazy people or have someone who is being crazy on their behalf.

Yes but it is art, it is our soul, our work and we are pushing it like so many drugs. Yup. If you do not look at your book or writing as a business I will almost guarantee that your book will go nowhere. If you had a bar of soap you made and wanted to start selling it how would you go about it? Why is your book any different?

I know all the reasons, your book should stand alone, is good enough that it will take off without you pushing it. WRONG! I am sorry to be That Guy, but some of the best books ever written no one knows about. Some of the worst books are bestsellers. Why? One is in business one is not.

You want to reach people? You preach that you are in this because you love writing and want to reach people. Well I say to reach people you must sell them a book. Fans = Sales. You need to get your work into the hands of fans or you will never make it.

Look at it this way. If you get books into your future fan's hands that will mean money in your pocket which will pay the bills which will allow you to wrote more and reach more people.

If you do not market and move a product, you will not sell books, you will not make any money and you will work a regular job which will hurt your writing and thus slow or stop any future you might have had as an author.

Now some out there do not need to make money writing. They might be a stay at home wife or retired and have other income. What then? Well, it is still all about fans. Reaching out because if you don't no one will ever know who you are and thus never read your stuff.

Why do i need to even talk about this subject? Because some out there do not see what they do as a business. It is art, a love of literature and so on... I know and that is fine in your quiet writing room but in the real world it is about sales. I believe in writing for you, do not write something just to sell a book. Be true to yourself but after you are done work your tail off and sell your book!

This is a business and the writers that will not see this simple fact will never impact the world. You choose what they read. You have the power, now will you make it or will you die on the vine as you hide your book from the world?

It is not selling out to sell a book. You can do it with class and tact. You can keep your dignity but you must sell. Replace the word fan with sale. Replace the word book with product. You are in business even if you do not see it, the question is will your business survive or fail.


  1. Preach it, Brother Patterson.

    This is exactly right. Sometimes it helps to think about it - not as "selling" as much as "letting people know that there's something here they might like."

    Social media makes this process about relationships, not broadcasts. It's about creating a connection with a fan, not attracting eyes to your site.

    For a beginner in the space, start with ten fans. Find ten people who like your stuff. They'll find a few more for you and you can start finding a hundred, then a thousand.

    With a thousand true fans - and a back list - you *can* live the dream.

    And you don't need a degree in advertising to do it.

    Can I get an Amen!

  2. Aaron, I'm glad you're not MY dad.

  3. Good stuff, Aaron.

    Sometimes you think that if the book is good enough, fans will find it. But you're right, you do need to spend time marketing it. And getting the word out.

  4. When I used to do theatre, one thing I told students was "show business - show is a little bitty word, business is a great big word. You figure it out." Writing is the same way. It would be nice if we could all lounge around on a beach dictating words of brilliance as nubile half-naked persons of our preference fan us with palm fronds, but that ain't happening. So get to work!

    In other words, I agree. :)

  5. How did Patterson (James), become so popular? He is an advertising man with ad savvy. He was the first to spend money for a television spot for his novel Along Came a Spider, and the book world has never been the same since. Any other writer or artist who believes you shouldn't be pushing your work via social networks, appearances, etc. is most definitely working another job besides the one they want to work. As for me, I write full time...