Monday, July 31, 2017


Writing is a profession, a business as much as an art. If I'd known that back in 1985 when I wrote and sold my first essay about the Ozarks I might not be a writer today. I didn't know I was starting a business.

Through what I call practice and process, a successful author creates, not just an artistic product, but a saleable one, made to fit a market. During our "set-up" phase we practice writing, over and over. We look at our product and process it, not just with a creative mind, but with analytical intelligence and reason. We answer the question, "What does this product offer the reading public? Is it of value?"

If our answer is "Yes," than it's time to sell ourselves as well as our product. And that's the hard part--not back-breaking work, but sometimes heart-breaking, because it can take a long time to get noticed as a writer. There are thousands of people out there who write well and want to sell their writing, or at least share it publicly. Many are choosing to publish their own work. No matter how written work is shared, it's still a business, and a business requires detailed record-keeping.

Work schedule, financial arrangements, a record of business-related travel or study, product stocking, and, of course, income, including payment for talks or teaching as well as personal book sales. The IRS will ask for these records if you are ever audited. Know how to print invoices and know the cost of  postage and packing materials if you mail or ship books. Your publisher may help you with  record-keeping, but it's a good idea to have some knowledge of all that's happening in your business.

And don't forget the Internet. A web site to maintain, time spent writing blogs and keeping up with social networks. (How much do you make an hour?  :-)  )    

I'm sure seasoned authors already know all this, and that beginners are getting the picture. Reading words you have put in an order that pleases you, and seeing the wonderful ideas they express is a glorious thing and a wonder. Just remember, though being a creative artist is primary, you are also running a small business.  Today these two facets of a writer's life go hand-in-hand.

Radine, at


Linda Thorne said...

I only have one novel at this stage, but I do treat writing like a business. It's not a profitable one yet, but I play at things like "branding" my product. I keep tax records and receipts, etc. Especially when we can deduct expenses on Schedule C. Since I've been working a day job, that is a great offset for my wages at from my employer.

Morgan Mandel said...

Yes, writing is a business which requires discipline. I need to exert more discipline to get my latest WIP done!