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Friday, June 27, 2014

Crash Writing Fads III - a guest post by Lauren Orbison

In this post, we’re going to be talking about how to treat your writing as a business. In the last post we talked about writing and the process in general.

When it comes to business, remember an important key phrase, “Your book is a product.” Yes. Product. A book is NOT your baby. Let me repeat. Your book is NOT your baby.

You love your baby just like it is. You should not love your book unconditionally the way you would a person. Some writers fall so in love with their first draft that they refuse to edit it. Sometimes your product needs revision. Sometimes, in fact, your product just needs to be discarded.

A baby needs care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will eventually grow up into a person. A book is an inanimate object capable of neither thinking nor moving nor doing anything at all except sitting on a shelf whether virtual or physical until someone pulls it off and reads it. 

I admit to being guilty of this line of thinking when I was first starting out, but, if you’re planning on writing to sell your work, you are a business.

You are A BUSINESS. You are not a PARENT.

So many writers are not business people. We are creative, yes. But we don’t think in business terms when we should. So change that mindset first. In theory you’re producing something people want to buy. But first you have to figure out if you really have a product worth selling.
How to do that?

  1. You need a marketing plan.  Figure out your target audience. You need to note how you’re going to reach your target audience. Read what’s already been published that’s similar to books like yours.
How does yours stand out? What is your selling point? If you’re going traditional publishing, look at catalogues of publishing houses and see what’s out that is similar to yours and target those people with your query letters. Buy a subscription to Publisher’s Marketplace if you can afford it. It’s been an invaluable resource to me, because you can search agents and editors directly and see what deals they have made recently. By doing this research, you can tailor your query letters rather than shooting in the dark and avoid the slush pile.
  1. Speaking of avoiding the slush pile, a lot of writers fall for the trap, ‘we don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.’
What this really means is, “We don’t accept crap. We are weeding out folks who aren’t serious about their work.” 

Don’t be afraid to send out your work. Even to the New York publishing houses.  But the way you do it is by acting like a professional instead of like an amateur. Sending out your work to publishers is the equivalent of a job interview for writers. And you only get one shot to make a lasting impression.

To quote Holly Lisle,  “A good query letter and a synopsis are the most important weapons in your arsenal.  A query letter is your way of saying, ‘Hi, I’m not an idiot, I know what I’m doing.’”

A query letter, one page synopsis, and first three chapters are industry standard.  There are good examples of them online and there are many books on how to write them. Read them.  Study them.  Write them.


Don’t let them languish in your inbox because you’re too chicken to push the ‘send’ button. The worst that they can do is say ‘no’. They won’t blacklist you for trying to send them something.
  1. Learn to love rejections.
Every writer who’s ever been published traditionally has been rejected. So have most Indie publishers. I looked forward to each one I got because it meant I was in good company. Even very famous authors got rejected. And in the days before form letters. Instead of being sad about each one, learn to look forward to them.

Thank the agent or editor for their time. Be polite. Words matter. Don’t trash the agent or editor on Twitter or Facebook.  Being rude does not help. It will only make them less likely to want to look at your work in the future. If someone trashed you all over the Internet would you want to look at work from this person in the future?

Agents and editors are people too.  

To make rejections fun, create a game out of them.  Tally each one and when you get a certain number do something special for yourself. Rejections mean you are at least moving!
I bragged about each one to my family and friends on Facebook. They all thought that it was very funny I loved rejections so much and looked forward to my posts on them. At church they regularly asked me about them and it was a running joke on seeing how many I had.

4.  Because you are a business, you need set up separate accounts for your finances.
This is especially important for Indie folks. Many financial institutions offer free DBA accounts. DBA stands for, Doing Business As.  As a writer intending to sell a manuscript, you can actually write a lot of purchases off come tax time, so that’s one reason among many to keep things separate.  You should also create separate online accounts for your business at places like Paypal, Amazon, etc. Direct the money to be deposited into your DBA. From there you can move funds to your regular bank account later. But it should first be deposited in the DBA.

If you enjoyed these posts, be sure and drop me a line on Twitter @lmorbison. I’d love to hear from you!

To learn more about me, check out my blog, www.orbisonhearts.tumblr.com

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