Another excellent article about the business of being an author and what writers need to know to survive the changes in publishing by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Writers who will survive will need to look ahead. They need to be constantly evaluating new technology, new opportunities, and new challenges. This goes back to flexibility in that as things change, the writer has to be willing to try something new. But the writer can’t jump whole-hog into that new change without testing it first. The writer will need to be able to assess the risk of each new thing without jeopardizing the writer’s entire livelihood. Sometimes that will mean working in the old system while moving to the new. Sometimes it will mean trying a variety of different tech providers for the same product. And sometimes it will mean the writer has to wait until the market shakes out a bit more before making her move.
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The writer who will survive will need more than business savvy. She’ll need to recognize that she’s an entrepreneur. For those of you who aren’t entirely sure what I mean by this, an entrepreneur is a person who sets up and finances a commercial enterprise (or commercial enterprises) for profit. There are two keys in that definition. An entrepreneur establishes a commercial enterprise for profit.
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Those who will make a living at writing, maintain a career, and perhaps get wealthy will know business. Those “artists” who write one book every five years will need day jobs for the rest of their lives—if the book even gets published. And even if that book becomes a bestseller, the “artists” won’t understand how contracts and financing work. The “artists” won’t make money on their bestsellers but the agents, managers, and digital management companies like the start-up mentioned last week will get rich off of the work that the “artists” produce. Why will the agents, managers, and those management companies get rich? Because they know business and they’ll leverage hundreds of books into millions of dollars. These people won’t care about the “artists” except to exploit them. And if the “artists” refuse to learn business, they’re the ones at fault for the exploitation.
So the writer with entrepreneurial spirit will understand, even intuitively, that she’s the one in charge of her career. Everything she writes will promote her brand or her brands. If she writes under a pen name, that pen name is a brand. If she writes under a dozen pen names, each pen name is a brand. Those brands are all part of the writer’s personal company, which she will run.
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Too many writers looked at publishers as their patrons and not as partners in business. Writers who survive in this new world will understand that they’re working in a commercial system, designed to make a profit and will act accordingly.
Link to the rest at The Business Rusch