Writers’ Business plan: Write more books

If a company made one product, and after years of refinement, market research, paying consultants and pushing it at every niche and trade show there was, they still couldn’t get it to sell, what would you advise them?

Keep in mind that their product might be great. But the market doesn’t want it, right now.

Would you tell them to keep pushing? Would you tell them to give up? Close up shop, stop being a company now because your one product isn’t selling.

What if you knew that because they created this one product, they could create other products? That it was, in fact, their specialty to create these products, similar but not the same. With all the experience they had making and fixing and marketing their product, they had an expertise in the field that they couldn’t pay for.

Yes, I’m nudging you toward the answer I’m looking for, because all of the time I see writers clinging to their first novels with their cold dead fingers, insisting “I will not write another book until this one is perfect! Until this one is sold! I will keep pushing it until the bitter end! It deserves my unrelenting attention!”

Year after year after year, they are pushing just one product, and it is not selling.

Now, I will admit that being an artistic type is different that being a corporate type, to an extent. There are plenty of writers out there that do not care to make a living writing books. They write books because they love it, and that is a good thing.

But if you want to make money doing what you love (which is completely valid and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You do not need to starve to be an artist) you need to consider the market and the best way to meet the demands of the market are to have more than one product to sell.

Put down your baby. Try something new. Make friends with new characters.

Then do it again.

Each book will be better. Each rejection will hurt less. Each accomplishment will be more rewarding.

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference: Tips for your first writers event

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference in the oldest writing conference in the country, celebrating its 70th year this past weekend.

While I’ve been aware of it for years, this year I pushed myself to step outside of my comfort zone and take the trip. I’ve never been to any writing conference before, because, well, it’s kinda scary. Which is exactly why I determined it was past time I found out what it’s all about.

So here is what I learned and some things to consider if you are thinking about taking the jump and going to your first writing conference.

1. Pace yourself

The PWC is three days long. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That is a lot, even for a seasoned pro. I wanted to do it all so Friday I was booked from 9:30 am – 8:00 pm.

That was too much. Too much information. Too much nerves. Too much sitting in chairs without back support. Too much time around too many people.

By the time I went to the agent and editors buffet, nearly every writer I spoke to was saying the same thing. “I am burnt out.”

And so was I. In the future I will be a little more discerning about the classes I sign up for and the length of my day.

 

2. Talk to new people

There’s a stereotype about writers being introverts. I would never say it’s true across the board, but it definitely is there for a reason. A lot of writers wandered around, looking a little lost Friday morning, including myself. As soon as someone at a table spoke up, everyone gratefully introduced themselves.

At lunch, I realized I had no idea where to get food and wasn’t sure about which direction to walk to find the nearest restaurants. I grit my teeth and walked up to a group of people and asked them and ended up getting invited to lunch with a lovely writing group.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, was so friendly and willing to make friends. Any time i started to feel shy or awkward, I’d see someone else sitting alone, and end up making a friend. Frequently we bonded over how shy and awkward we felt.

 

3. Get Business Cards!

This didn’t even occur to me and I really regret it now. All these awesome people I met and none of us thought to share our contact info. Even if you don’t have a book or blog or website, print up some cheap cards with your social media accounts and give them out to the people you meet.

 

4. Look into everything the conference offers

I arrived late and frazzled after getting stuck in traffic coming into the city. Everyone was in for the opening speaker so I mulled around, trying to get my bearings and happened to see the sign up table for agent and editor pitch sessions.

I had assumed they cost extra and they would be filled up before I got there. But I asked. Apparently very few people had signed up and they were free. So I got an unexpected five minute pitch session with a really awesome agent. (and also rambled like a nervous idiot a bit). It was uncomfortable, but really really helpful, and I might have missed it completely if I hadn’t checked.

 

5. Remember that Writers are awesome

The writers and editors leading the conferences, the agents, the attendees, were all super cool. By the end of first day, I was burnt out, but I also realized that I had no reason to be nervous about the people. We all just love to create. We all love the written word. We all want more of it.

 

6. Bonus Tip for Introverts.

Find somewhere you can go be alone for a few minutes, through out the day, especially if you are not used to being around people all day long. I took a few breaks in my car, in the parking garage. scrolled through my phone, adjusted my uncomfortable conference-ey clothes, and took from deep breaths any time I started to feel overwhelmed. It saved the day.

 

Any conference tips of your own? Please share in comments!

Occupation: Writer?

I remember staring at the blank space on the preschool enrollment form. Mother’s Occupation: ____________.  In the past I’d used my old job. Graphic Designer. Then I resigned myself to “Home maker” but it made me feel a little uncomfortable. Not because being a home maker isn’t a real job. Let me tell you, it is a full time job and a half, but because it’s not a “job” I do exclusively, or alone. My husband and I make our home together. For a little while I aggressively wrote in “Mother” because psh, that IS a job that I do 24/7. That’s true for every mother, by the way, not just ones who don’t work full time jobs for money.

But it is not my professional occupation, any more than home making is. Any more that graphic design has been since I left my full time job after my first child was born.

So I wrote it, on that line.

Mother’s Occupation: Writer.

After a moment of intense self doubt I also added /Homemaker.

It took me a while to be comfortable writing this in. Because I do not make anything close to a living writing, yet. Yet I don’t get paid to cook, clean, or parent and I have no trouble listing those things as my occupation.

I spend a significant portion of my time writing or doing writing related things. I edit while my daughter watches morning cartoons. I research while I wait for spaghetti to boil. I do social media work all day in stolen moments. I write at night between baths and bedtime and the five times my kids need something.

Writing is my occupation. How much money I make for it doesn’t make it any more or less valid. I am building my career and every moment dedicated to it is precious.

So if you are struggling with the same thing, cut yourself a break. Money does not define the value of your job. It does not define you. If you are lucky or motivated enough to be able to dedicate your time to writing, you are a writer and you rock.