Treat Your Writing Career as a Small Business

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

Long gone are the days when beautiful sentences and compelling plot lines alone were enough to make you a professional writer. Now, whether you pen fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or other types of writing, you likely need to treat your writing career as a business to get ahead. That involves paying attention to a long list of issues, besides just getting words on the page.

Be Productive and Accountable

Whether you’ve published a few books or are still an aspiring writer, you need to be accountable to your craft and ensure you are producing work on a regular basis. Ideally, you should treat writing like a job and set aside a certain amount of time every day for writing. As your business grows, you may also need to earmark blocks of time for marketing, networking, accounting, and other business tasks.

To help keep yourself on track, consider using a productivity app such as Pomodroido or Focus Keeper, timers based on the Pomodoro technique, which breaks tasks down into 25-minute manageable segments. Alternatively, check out Trello, which includes tools to create lists, prioritize tasks, and track research notes.

Brand, Brand, Brand

If you’re as lucky and talented as J.K Rowling, your manuscript may get lifted out of the slush pile, and fame and riches may follow. However, in most cases, publishers tend to prefer writers who already have a following. In addition to writing, build your brand and find fans. Be sure to use Twitter and other social media channels to draw followers who like your style and start a blog to share longer pieces. Write and share in a way that reflects your personal brand so you stand out within your niche. Also, you can use these sites to network with other writers and publishers.

Build Up Inventory

As a writer, your inventory is your writing. If you’ve finished a book and are pitching it to publishers, don’t stop writing. Build up your inventory by starting the next book right away. That way, if publishers like your stuff, you are ready to sell them more as soon as possible.

Organize Your Finances

As a writer, you are considered a self-employed individual or small business owner by the Canada Revenue Agency. As a result, you have to report all of the money you earn from your books as income, but you can reduce your taxable income by writing off business expenses including office supplies, electronics, books purchased for research, advertising, and a range of other costs you may incur. In addition, you can also deduct startup costs, as long as you incur them in the same year you earn money. For example, if you buy a new laptop that’s just for writing in April and receive your first payment as a professional writer in October, you can deduct the cost of your laptop from your earnings as a business expense. So, even before you start making money as a writer, it’s important to track your writing-related expenses.

References & Resources

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