I have lost count of the number of times people have said this to me, and each time it annoys me. Writing can indeed be a hobby, and there is nothing wrong with that, but for me, and for many, many of my fellow authors, writing is a business. It can be writing books, journalism, blogs, editing and creating websites, and many other areas, but the bottom line is, this is business.
We operate like any small businesses, and deal with creation of product (writing the book), marketing and promotion, accounts etc. Like other businesses we sometimes struggle through the first few years, before we manage to find our feet and the business starts growing.
Another comment that came up recently was, ‘It can be hard to fit authors into our event because you don’t actually make anything…’
No, I don’t actually bind the book myself, as this is outsourced by my publishers, but outsourcing is something all businesses do. I also have an accountant, and a website designer…
I have attended a lot of business networking events over the years, both big and small, and in the early days I did lack the confidence to stand up and say, ‘I am an author.’ I felt like an imposter, and I thought that maybe actually I shouldn’t be here at all. Was my writing ever going to make that jump from start up to real business? So I mumbled a few words about how I had a book out, and would love some reviews. When anyone showed an interest, I would mumble some more about my hopes for my little start up business.
Luckily, I have now attended enough events, and gained a solid and wonderful collection of like-minded friends and fellow business people who kick my butt if I mumble 😉 So ten years on, with my ninth novel about to be published, I do feel I can say, with confidence, ‘I am an author’. If people ask, I can add that I run a business that does make money, and the money helps me to pay my mortgage, to buy food, to take the kids on holiday, just as any business should. I am extremely lucky that I have been able to turn a dream into a business, and I love what I do. This doesn’t mean I don’t still have the odd crisis of confidence, and the niggling worry that maybe it won’t work out after all. In fact, just last year, I decided I was kidding myself, and needed to accept it just wasn’t going to work. I even took another job… Then, a month later, it did work. Everything fell into place. It was one of those magic moments for any business.
The advice I would give to anyone struggling with their confidence, and just starting to write or publish, would be to be honest with yourself. If your writing is a hobby, enjoy it and be proud. If your writing is the very beginning of a fledgling business… um… enjoy it, and be proud! Be kind to yourself. Yes, some authors to nab an agent and have epic success for their debut novel, but generally they have already put a huge amount of work in behind the scenes. They may have been doing just what you are doing, for years and years before they got that big break. Oh, also, don’t quit your current job until you have a small cashflow from your writing 😉
Keep plodding on, and celebrate your successes. One of the best things, for me, is customer satisfaction, and that is exactly how it should be. The fact that my customers are readers it the best feeling ever. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling to know that people are reading and enjoying my books. From creation to end product, my writing is a business, and if it is yours too, the best of luck in growing your business in 2018!