So, we talked about what writing as a hobby looks like. Now, letís look at the flip side.
The number one definition is really about how the IRS looks at this from the standpoint of income and expenses. Treating your writing as a business, whether itís part-time or full-time, means you have a profit motive. What is that? Well, it means youíre writing with the intention of making money from your writing-- not simply pursuing a pleasurable activity.
All of the IRS stuff aside (but not too far Ė itís very important), writing as a profession means you should do the following:
The bottom line is writing is creative work. We all know that. We are artists. But too many of us approach being an author as a hobby or an outlet instead of an actual business. What many authors seem to miss is the fact that they are, in actuality, entrepreneurs--a business unto themselves. If you choose to make writing a business, you need to act that way.
- Learn and continue to learn craft. Donít think that just because you have a few books under your belt, that you know everything there is to know. Successful business people donít sit back and rest on their accomplishments. They are working to learn and grow. Thatís what you need to do as an author.
- Write the best book you can. And keep writing. Self-published? Then itís even more important that you create a product (your book) that is properly formatted, has an eye-catching cover and is well-edited. Thereís no excuse not to.
- Track your income and your expenses. Come back for the workshop on taxes and see just how you need to do that.
- Read and read and read. You should read books you love, not just to study the writing craft, but also read for enjoyment. Yes, I know, when youíre under a deadline, you donít have time to read. But if you arenít reading then are you enjoying what you are doing? Hey, it may be a business but thereís no reason you canít enjoy what you do. And reading is a part of that.
- Submit! Seriously, submit. When you win a contest, submit the request. If you take the time to pitch (and deal with the stress) then send in your submission.
- Dedicate serious time and effort to your profession. Make a business plan, marketing plan and so on. Do you have to do this? No, but it helps keep you focused and moving forward.
- Promotion and marketing. Ah, how many of you cringed when I said this? Slice it any way youíd like, this is a necessary piece of your profession as an author. Donít rely on your publisher to do it for you. Most wonít do more than announce your release. And by all means, work with your publisher! When they take the time to set up a chat or some other kind of exposure participate. Iím constantly hearing authors say their publishers donít do anything yet these same persons donít participate when the publisher sets up opportunities. Boy, I could dedicate a whole article on this subject. J
- Keeping records of your submissions, assignments, income, and expenses like you would with any other business.
- Study the industry and the market. Donít watch or try to follow trends but understand them. Study readers and pay attention to what they want. In the business world, they are you consumers/your customers. The same for writing.
I hope this has provided some food for thought. Thinking of your creative works as a product or your business doesnít sound glamorous but it is reality. And if you want the glamorous part, you still have to think of writing as a business. Ask any successful author. I bet theyíll agree.
Good luck to you!