Friday, June 7, 2019

A Business Like No Other

I've seen a lot online* recently about treating this writing/publishing thing as a business.  And I don't disagree.  It is a business.

Unfortunately, for most of us, it's a business that's not making enough money to keep a bird alive and would close it's doors in a day if it were any other type of business. So, treating it as a business... in say the same way one would look at a store or a restaurant or an accounting firm... isn't exactly feasible.

If the business my father started back in 1983 behaved the way this writing business does, it wouldn't have made it 36 years.  Sure, the first few years sucked.  That's to be expected in any new business.  But by five years in, if you're not making money, you should probably send all the employees home and close the doors.

Oh, I get how the whole 'it's a business' thing helps keep the mindset of 'show up every day, work your hours, etc.'  So you're treating this as a job and not a hobby.

But let's not fool ourselves overly much.  This is a business like no other business.  We work in our pajamas for petesakes.

We don't have employees, per se.  (Editors and cover artists are contractors, not employees.)  We are every employee wrapped up into one person.  And most of us should probably be fired from at least one of those positions.  Except we can't fire ourselves from anything because if we stop doing it, we're screwed.

We keep strange hours and they differ from writer to writer and sometimes from day to day - or to paraphrase Steven Wright "Open 24 hours... but not in a row."

We almost never know or see our customers.  "Hey, look at that, someone in the UK is reading Natural Causes. Don't know who or why or how they found it, but cool."

90% of our work is in our heads, for petesakes.

So, treat it like a business if it gets you motivated and your butt in the chair doing your job.  Personally, for me, it would be easier to treat it like a business if it was actually making money. Or maybe it would make more money if I treated it more like a business.  I'm not sure about that, though.  In the past, I've shown up and put in the hours and still no monies, which makes me less likely to want to show up and put in the hours now.  Especially when I can spend time doing spreadsheets and actually getting checks for my time.

Treat it like a business, but always remember that non-writing businesses don't work this way.

* Complete disclosure - I didn't read the online articles, so they could've said exactly what I'm saying.  These are just the thoughts I had after seeing people talking about the subject.


  1. Yeah. Preaching to the choir again, sister! It's sad that this is true and I think with sales being sluggish across the board--except for a few golden children/writers--there are far more who feel this way than we'll admit.

    Makes me wish I had a spread-sheet business to fall back on. Since I don't, I need to work on those words.

  2. I need to fire my marketing manager. Or hire a new one. Hard to fire myself.

    I do show up every day. Does that count? ;-)