Writing as Business

This is not a thing I actively thought about until pretty recently.

I wanted to be in the business. I wanted to write for a living. I wanted to be taken seriously in publishing. But I hadn’t considered what being a businessperson in the publishing industry was like.

That changed day 1 of WorldCon — the first convention I’ve ever attended. I attended a panel simply entitled ‘The Business Side of Writing.’ On this panel were several professional appearing people who spoke about having a business plan, having a brand, having a presence online, and a hundred other things I hadn’t even considered.

I got some cold sweats. I was totally unprepared to be a writer.

So I sat down and thought about what I wanted to be doing in 2 months, 6 months, a year, 2 years. Where do I want my career to go? How will I perpetuate myself in this business? When I had thought about it for a while, I wrote it down. That’s when everything changed.

I’m not just a writer. I’m an author. To me there’s a difference. Writers write. Authors write. But authors write with an eye to the future. Authors build a brand and have a plan on how to make that brand work for them. Writers write. And that’s wonderful for those who are content to stop right there. I am not one of those.

I went back to the convention the next day with a new perspective and a new attitude. I was going to be successful in this industry, and in order to do that I was going to make friends with people in the know, and I was going to project an air of success. And you know what? It. Fucking. Worked. I met tons of authors, a few agents, a few editors, a bunch of great fans of fantasy and science fiction, and collected business cards out the wazoo. Then, after I didn’t really think things could go much better for me, an author (who I won’t name here, but is seriously one of the most considerate and outgoing people I’ve ever met in my life) introduced me to an their agent and I scheduled a meeting to sit down and talk about my manuscripts.

I sat down with said agent the next day and we talked for 45 minutes (!) about who I was, what I wanted to do, and where I saw my career going. Thanks to my new mindset, I think I had some pretty good answers to those questions. I didn’t think of this meeting as a way to get some mysterious gatekeeper of writing to accept my manuscript, I thought of that meeting as a business meeting between two prospective partners, and I think (hope) that came through. I left that meeting with a request for both of my manuscripts.

Since then, I’ve sent out a few queries, which I haven’t had much luck with in the past, to be honest, and have now submitted my partial or full manuscript three times. That’s more in two weeks than in the previous 18 months. Whether that has anything to do with my newfound attitude toward becoming a published author, I can’t say for certain, but I can’t imagine it’s hurt my chances.

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