The Business of Writing

Author platforms!  Social media!  Agent pitches!  Book trailers!  Publicists!  e-books!  Self-publishing!  Writing conferences!

I like taking a look at the big picture–but that doesn’t mean that I’m good at doing so.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m easily overwhelmed.  And when I start reading through others’ blogs and Web sites, that sinking feeling usually creeps up on me until I feel as though I might drown.

Here’s the thing: I know that all of this stuff–the business of being an author and of writing–is important.  My question is this: How the hell do these people find the hours in a day to do it all?

Maybe they’re independently wealthy.  Maybe they don’t have full-time jobs.  Maybe they don’t have children under the age of ten.  Maybe they don’t have a spouse.  Maybe they don’t have any friends.  Maybe they don’t have deadlines.  Maybe they live in the middle of nowhere where nothing interesting ever happens.

Then I begin beating myself up: I should be so much further along in my writing!  Why aren’t I so much further along?  Why aren’t I submitting work twice a week?  Why isn’t my blog being read by more people–what am I doing wrong there?  Why can’t I find more time for updating my blog?  Why don’t I do anything with my Twitter account?  Why can’t I find more time for my writing?  Why am I so freaking exhausted all the time?

I understand very well that writing is a business, but I’ve approached it as if it’s a hobby for a long, long time.  Now that I finally feel ready to be serious about my writing, I really need to get a handle on all of the aspects of BEING a writer.  It’s time to get over feeling ready and time to start being ready.  Time to spring into action.


8 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve often felt the same way, J. Whenever I read books (sometimes entire series) written by individuals in the midst of obtaining graduate degrees (law school!), I feel like a major loser. I feel the same when I read material written by people several years younger than me. What am I not doing that they are doing? They’re seemingly successful at everything!

    I’m glad that you’re ready to be ready. I think your writing is something to be shared with the world and I’m excited for the day when your work is available worldwide, whether published traditionally or self-published.


    • Oh, thanks so much, Tara! I can’t seem to figure out the time conundrum, and can you imagine how I feel about those who are so much younger than I who are published? Today I was looking through Narrative magazine’s “30 Under 30” feature and I was so angry. Not just with myself, however…how about those writers who are late bloomers? (Ha! That’s how I’m going to think about myself from now on!)

      I’m starting to get into submitting (though not twice a week just yet) and I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with publishing. I think my book is going to go the traditional publishing route, but I may self-publish some of the many, many stories I’ve written through the years. Still trying to decide for sure about that one, though!


  2. I think I understand how you feel 🙂


  3. Posted by diana on September 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    There are money-investment issues as well as a time-investment issues when it comes to gaining an audience. I know a musician who was pleased with the response he got to a Facebook ad. There’s also such a thing as “sponsored links,” which I can’t post about (possible conflict of interest) but you can easily research in your spare time (bwahaha or however you spell that).


    • Diana, it’s so interesting that you bring that up! One of the writing groups I participate in just had a discussion about Facebook ads and sponsored links, and tonight on the news, they spoke about the same. Something more to think about, for sure!

      I have to say that I’m still learning about blogging–I began the way I usually do: jumping in without any idea and then flailing about until I figure it out. One of my tasks on my to-do list this weekend is to look into audience-building from within the blogging community. I’m sure I’ll keep you updated about that one!


  4. Posted by Lisa on September 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I liked your honesty with this entry. 🙂 I think part of the time conundrum is that people get too busy using social media platforms to talk about being a writer and not promoting the product they have, be it music, writing, or what-have-you.

    Simple answer to your question: you’re exhausted because you’re living a wonderfully full life and trying to fit your passion for writing into it. It’s a difficult process to do. I think part of right now is a matter of growing pains. Developing the muscle memory, so to speak. I also think part of feeling overwhelmed is that you are fundamentally a realist in a field that is not exactly realist-friendly.

    I think what you said up a few comments to Tara about trying to self-publish some of your smaller pieces is a great starting place. Dip your toe and get some experience in that world. I think it can be a fairly systematic experience one you get started. Start trying to publish smaller pieces yourself, make them available on various original literature hosing website, etc. Once you get some pieces in place like that, that’s where I believe the blogging and social media comes into place. Create a buzz or presence on those channels to drive the audience to the product. Having used social media in a business format for Target, I get to see both sides–the quickness and efficiency of getting a message communicated to a mass of people, but also the absolute inane, useless, and repetitive postings that accomplishes nothing but going in circles. Social media is a powerful tool when it has direction and it guided by someone with a strong sense of purpose.


    • Lisa, I think you’re absolutely right, and I’m hoping to not get swallowed by all of the social media stuff, because writing (and doing it well) is my ultimate goal. You’re also right about my growing pains… I will have to keep working that muscle until it’s developed!

      One of my goals in writing this blog is to document my experiences with writing–the ups and downs as I try to figure things out, including fitting writing in my life and publishing my work. I think one of my biggest challenges is trying to find the places where my stories will be accepted. It’s intimidating stuff!


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