Take care of the big stuff and the little things take care of themselves.
Writers are Small Business Owners
Being a writer means embracing the idea you are a small business owner. I believe it’s the responsibility of a writer to strategize, research, implement, and maintain their own career. This applies to other employment sectors but it is particularly important for writers (artists in general) to stop thinking that “someone” will discover and mentor you so you can just be your creative self.
A Reactive Story
In the last chapter of Merchants of Culture, Thompson included a summary about an author’s 20 year experience with agents and publishing houses. Her career, and the damage to it, resulted after a combination of long-term neglect by said agents and publishers, as well as a naive author who assumed everyone was working in her best interest. In her case, she published five books and won awards, so she was under the impression that she must be doing a good job. She believed her talent as a writer was enough to keep her career afloat.
Today’s publishing climate requires you to be assertive and informed about the industry, no matter what type of author you are, or at what stage of your career you are in. As “Joanne” explained to Thompson:
If she knew then what she knows now… She would have taken it upon herself to find out what she needed to do to try to make her career a success and she would have been much more assertive, telling her agent what she wanted her to do and spending more time chatting with people at the publishing houses, from her editors to the publicity staff, just to get them on her side (page 389).
- No one else will just take care of the details. And if they do, you can bet that they are charging you for it.
- The word in the sky is that you cannot get published with a big trade house without an agent.
- To get an agent is very difficult.
- It is more and more important to already have a presence, a following, on the web.
- Networking and promoting yourself, entering contests, submitting stories and articles in all the right places builds a portfolio.
- Social media is being proactive. Make friends on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, IMDB, LinkedIn, wherever.
- Don’t be shy, just try.
- If you decide to self publish, you are a small business owner and have to be proactive.
- Do your research. Read books, publishing news, blogs, everything you can get your hands on about the industry. Because this is an industry.
- Never give up. Even when it is a down day, remember that everyone goes through it. By being proactive, you are doing something.
I plan on writing more about this topic. But this is what you get for a Friday post. I am being proactive.
What kinds of things do you do to be proactive as a writer?