Get seriously inspiring writing tips delivered to your inbox Join my author mailing listJoin my author mailing list

Do writers need to be business savvy?

Advanced tips for writers

Dodgy secondhand car salesman anyone?

Do writers need to be business savvy? Let’s start with a thought experiment. What do you think of when you hear the terms ‘business’ and ‘sales’? What image do you conjure up? Think about it for a moment. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Men in dodgy suits trying to sell you a secondhand car and pushy sales reps pressurizing you into signing up for something you don’t want?
  2. Or maybe you think of deadly dull Excel spreadsheets and profit and loss columns or school Business Studies classes that made you yawn?
  3. Or did you conjure up an image of happy customers or clients – or readers / audiences – gladly handing over their cash for something they really value or need?
  4. Perhaps you think of ‘business’ and ‘sales’ as neutral in and of themselves – but if done right, both can be an amazing way of serving people and earning money, beneficial to all parties?
  5. There’s another stance that I’ve seen writers take: ‘business’ and ‘sales’ don’t apply to me, I don’t want to think about them, I just want to write my books in peace.

Which of these best fits the images or ideas that filled your mind when I first mentioned ‘business’ and ‘sales’? Be honest! You don’t have to tell anyone. In short, does ‘business’ equal: icky, dodgy, pushy or boring to you? Or is it neutral? Or is it amazing, a way of helping people and earning a living? By the way, my dad sold secondhand cars when I was a kid, so I feel well qualified to comment on that particular stereotype.

Do writers need to be business savvy?

Do writers need business acumen? Do we need it more now than we used to, say 10 years ago? These are questions I’ve had to debate for myself and over the last few years more and more of my writing students have been asking themselves the same. As is often the case in the writing community, there is more than one answer to these questions, depending on your circumstances.

The freelance business skills quiz for writers

So do writers need at least some business skills? You can discover the right answer – as far as you’re concerned – by answering the following questions. If I find a way to turn this into a flowchart, I’m on it. Otherwise, you’ll have to do the text version! Read the question, pick the answer that’s closest to how you feel today, then go to the next question as instructed until you find your answer.

1. Do you want to make money from your writing?

  • Answer: No. I want something else from my writing. Go to question 2.
  • Answer: Yes. It’s one of my primary motivations. Go to question 3.
  • Answer: Yes. I want a career as a writer. Go to question 4.
  • Answer: Some money would be nice occasionally. Go to question 2.
  • Answer: Maybe or I don’t know yet. Go to question 2.

2. Are you interested in people reading what you write?

  • Answer: No. I only write for me. You don’t need any business acumen.
  • Answer: Yes. It’s one of my primary motivations. Go to question 3.
  • Answer: Yes. I want a career as a writer. Go to question 4. 
  • Answer: I hate the idea. You don’t need any business acumen.
  • Answer: Maybe or I don’t know yet. Go to question 3.

3. Do you want to make a profit from your writing?

  • Answer: No. I want something else from my writing. Go to question 4.
  • Answer: Yes. It’s one of my primary motivations. You definitely need business acumen.
  • Answer: Yes. I want it to be my main source of income. Go to question 4.
  • Answer: I don’t know how that would work. Go to question 4.
  • Answer: Maybe or I don’t know yet. Go to question 4.

4. Are you going to self-publish your work?

  • Answer: No. I only write for me. You don’t need any business acumen.
  • Answer: No. I only want to be traditionally published. You need some business acumen.
  • Answer: Yes absolutely – and I plan to make a profit! You definitely need business acumen.
  • Answer: Yes absolutely so I can share my work with my friends and family. You need some business acumen.
  • Answer: I don’t know how that would work. Go to question 5.
  • Answer: Maybe or I don’t know yet. Go to question 5.

5. Are you interested in learning about freelance business skills for writers?

  • Answer: No not really. You don’t need any business acumen at the moment.
  • Answer: Maybe or I don’t know yet. You don’t need any business acumen at the moment.
  • Answer: Yes, that sounds really interesting! Do some research, then take the test again.

What do your results look like?

What did you find out? If you need at least some business acumen and you already have skills in sales and marketing, you’re sorted. What if you’ve figured out that you do need to develop at least some freelance business skills, but when you did the thought experiment at the start of the post, you conjured up images that equal icky, dodgy, pushy or boring? The answer to that is surprising, and curiously engaging. But I’ll save that for the next installment.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Louise

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.