Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tips: Treating Writing as Your Business

Some writing friends recently compiled their top tips on treating your writing as a business. Loads of great ideas for writers – and probably other freelance professions, as well!

Just as you take your writing business seriously, take your publisher's business seriously as well. Never, never blow a deadline (unless it's a matter of life and death). Respect your relationship with your publisher and they will respect their relationship with you.

--Melody Carlson, author of River's Song from Abingdon

Christian publishing is a small industry. Be kind and professional in your dealings. A reputation lost or a bridge burned will never be re-established.

--Gayle Roper, award-winning author of Shadows on the Sand

When it's writing time, I set my email preferences so that no email is delivered unless I do it manually. That eliminates that delightful little "ding" that tells you a new message has arrived in your Inbox. When I reach my word count for the day or my writing time is finished I reset my preferences and turn it back on. This has helped me focus during my writing time and get more done.

--Carrie Turansky, award winning author of Christmas Mail-Order Brides

Invest back into your main employee (you, the writer!) with occasional classes, retreats, or gatherings with other authors. Always keep learning!

--Sharon Hinck author of The Restorer-Expanded Edition

Using a system of trial and error, discover the time of day when you are the most creative and use that block of time for your writing. Use the remainder of your workday to take care of accounting, answering email, interacting on blogs and so forth.

--Judith Miller, author of the Daughters of Amana series

Keep it in perspective. Writing, while rewarding and often seen as one's ministry, is still your JOB. It shouldn't become the fulfillment of your life. That place of honor belongs to your relationship with God first and family second. It can be easy to ignore the relationships when the accolades and excitement of a book in print arrives. But everything suffers when we put something besides our heavenly Father in "first place." So keep a watchful eye (and heart!) on your priorities. Your life will be in better balance because of it.

--Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of A Whisper of Peace

Treat your business like a business. Have regular work hours and exercise discipline. You will have to train your family and friends to respect your work hours––this is part of working at home. But they will never take your job seriously if you don't.

--Denise Hunter author of A Cowboy's Touch

Make sure you are spending the majority of your time on income-generating endeavors (like actual writing!). Facebook, blogging, promotion, twitter, are all helpful, but only after you've spent most of your working time doing what actually makes the money––writing! Log your time so you know where it's being spent.

--Marlo Schalesky, award-winning author of Shades of Morning

Perseverance is sometimes the only thing that keeps us going, but if it's bathed in prayer, it's enough for the moment.

--Gayle Roper, award-winning author of Shadows on the Sand

While its important to understand the business of writing, don't let it consume you. Remember why you started writing in the first place: because you love it. You are called to do it. It's easy to lose sight of that when mired in the business end of publishing. Don't ignore business matters, but don't put them above writing and creating the best work you possibly can.

--Kathleen Fuller, author of What the Heart Sees

Track your time or word count. Thats how you treat writing like a business. I use an excel spreadsheet that lets me see where I am in relation to overall word count, in each chapter and on a daily basis. Even before I had a contract, I used this system, and it helped hold me accountable like a time clock.

--Cara Putman, author of Stars in the Night

Make a commitment to show up or "assume the position of a writer." A certain number of words or a certain amount of time is less important than making the commitment to appear. My earliest novels began with the alarm going off at 4:00AM and my commitment was to be at the computer by 5:00AM. Some days the writing went well; some days not so good. But every day I showed up was a winning day and gave me energy to keep writing.

--Jane Kirkpatrick, best-selling author of Barcelona Calling from Zondervan

It's amazing how little things can turn into big things. For example, I spoke at a library event that had a very tiny audience, yet a woman in the audience enjoyed the talk. She asked me to speak at a hospital benefit luncheon of over two hundred attendees! I try to look at each event or signing with the perspective that size isn't important. Individuals are.

--Suzanne Woods Fisher, bestselling author of The Lancaster County Series

Keep a close eye on how much money is coming in and how much is going out. Managing cash flow is tough for writers because we don't know when a manuscript will sell, how much it will sell for, or what royalties a book will earn. Set up a business checking account and get a business debit or credit card. Track spending, and avoid spending money you don't have.

--Judy Christie, author of the Green series, including Rally 'Round Green

Use email as a reward for meeting your first daily word count goal. The Internet can suck up hours of your day, but if you delay opening your Inbox until after you begin working on your book, you will establish your priorities for the day and youll accomplish far more. Focus first on writing, and then on communicating.

--Virginia Smith, author of Lost Melody by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith.

Work hard at separating your personal, sensitive, creative self from your business self. Train yourself early on to understand that rejection, critiquing, editing and negotiations are not personal. NOT PERSONAL. They are business.

--Charlene Ann Baumbich, author of Divine Appointments from WaterBrook Press/Random House

Set up a business account to keep professional expenses separate from personal/family ones. It makes doing your taxes much simpler.

--Gayle Roper, award-winning author of Shadows on the Sand

Always remember that your number one customer is not the end reader nor the bookstore owner nor even the head buyer who makes the big book-ordering decisions. Your number one customer is the publisher, and you should direct most of your marketing and promotional efforts toward supplying them with what they need to get your books into the hands of readers. The easier you make their job, the more they can do for you in return.

--Mindy Starns Clark, co-author with Leslie Gould of the #1 bestseller The Amish Midwife

Get a good accounting program and USE it!

--Marlo Schalesky, Christy award-winning author of Beyond the Night

Keep an Excel or Word spreadsheet of your research resources and divide it by series or book so that when you need to produce authority for your novel, it is readily available. In addition, it becomes an excellent resource when you need to locate some of that same information for another book. Someone (I dont remember who) told me to keep a file with the names of characters I had used in my books. Otherwise, you may use the same name several books and readers notice such things.

--Judith Miller, author of the Daughters of Amana series

Put fingers to keyboards no matter how little you can think of to say. Set a timer for thirty minutes and write as many words as you can in that thirty minutes. You'll be amazed how may pages you can write with that timer ticking.

--Hannah Alexander, author of The Wedding Kiss

Marketing your book isn't just important for an author these days, it's imperative. Yet never forget that the best marketing tool of all is to write the best book you can as quickly as you can, then get it to your readers. A well crafted story beats a thousand clever tweets any day.

--Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of A Lasting Impression, a Belmont Mansion novel

Make an annual plan with your top priorities and the dates by which you'll tackle those priorities, including writing projects, professional development and marketing. Take a fresh look at your goals at least once a quarter to make needed adjustments. Don't let distractions, which seem to come out of the woodwork, draw you off course.

--Judy Christie, author of the Hurry Less Worry Less series, including Hurry Less Worry Less at Work

I sit down with every book and figure out how long it will take me to finish the it and then, on my computer calendar or paper calendar, write down how many pages I need to write every day. I try to focus on the work for JUST that day. If I look too far ahead, the project can be daunting. If I don't meet the goal for the day, those pages get added to the next day.

--Carolyne Aarsen, author of Daddy Lessons, #2 in the Home to Hartley Creek series from Love Inspired

I work way ahead of deadline. Way, way ahead. So far ahead that it drives my editor a little crazy. But doing so helps me to stave off anxiety--which paralyzes creativity--and allows plenty of time for my favorite part of writing: polishing the manuscript. I think of that part as icing a cake.

--Suzanne Woods Fisher, award winning author of Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World

Expect your advance to be all that you make on the book. That way when a royalty check comes, you'll see it as a bonus and won't be disappointed as much if it's a low amount.

--Vickie McDonough, ACFW treasurer and author of the Pioneer Promises series

When you finish an article, make a list of ten markets in a folder. Send the article out to the first market. When the rejection letter comes back, read the article once and send it to the next market on the list within 24 hours. Identifying markets when we're feeling good makes it easier to have a next step when that rejection comes back. And resending with 24 hours keeps that work from dying in a forgotten file. To be published, we have to risk getting the work out into the world.

--Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of The Daughter's Walk from WaterBrook Press/Random House

Write your work hours in ink on your calendar at the beginning of each week or month, and treat them as you would an appointment. If you choose to take a day off, be sure and reschedule those hours of writing time back onto your calendar just as you would reschedule an important appointment.

--Deborah Raney, author of the Hanover Falls Novels from Howard/Simon & Schuster

Remember that you can't do everything. You will often have to say "no" to one thing to say "yes" to something else. Guard your writing time, but remember that you are unique. Assimilate all the tips you pick up and determine what works best for you.

--Judy Christie, author of Wreath, a young adult novel

This hint was given to me by Jane Jordan Browne after I first signed with her agency: "Remember, editors are not your friends, and you must never hold that against. them." I've gone back to that many times over the years.

--Charlene Ann Baumbich, author of Finding Our Way Home from WaterBrook Press

Be professional in all your dealings. Don't backstab other writers or badmouth editors or publishers, because this is a small world and your words will come back to haunt you in painful ways.

--Hannah Alexander, author of the Christmas novella Silent Night, Deadly Night

Maintain a sense of humor and a sense of distance. Focus on your projects, the things you like to write, and don't make it less or more important than the work of fellow writers. God called you with your own abilities and weaknesses and you know best what you should be writing. Find your strengths and be faithful with what you've been given.

--Carolyne Aarsen, author of The Rancher's Return, first in the Home to Hartley Creek series from Love Inspired

When you get a writing-related receipt, like from a restaurant or for gas on a research trip, be sure to circle the date and amount of purchase and write a brief note explaining what it is for. By the end of the year ink often fades on receipts making them hard to read and memory also fails if it's been a long while since you took the trip.

--Vickie McDonough, author of the Texas Trails and Texas Boardinghouse Brides series

One of the 'secrets to my success' took me some time to learn--that's to delegate chores and tasks to others (without going on a guilt trip). When I realized the actual value of my writing time, it became much easier to let someone else do the grocery shopping or mail books or clean house.

--Melody Carlson, author of The Christmas Shoppe from Baker/Revell

Take the money-making/business aspects of writing as seriously as you would any other business, but learn to discern divine interruptions. After all, the freedom to rearrange your schedule is one of the best perks of being a writer, and no one ever wishes on their deathbed that they'd spent more time at work; however, many wish they'd spent more time with family and friends.

--Deborah Raney, award-winning author of A Vow to Cherish

My top two tips are:

1. Write.

2. See #1.

--Stephanie Grace Whitson, author of A Most Unsuitable Match

No comments: