The Business of Writing: Product & Goal


Post I: Product and Goal

shutterstock_104551601When I started writing five years ago, I was enthralled with the romance of same. I knew nothing of the business. Mistakes? Many, such as publishing without a marketing plan. I did not know what marketing was and I did not really want to know. All writers really want to do is write, right?

But now, at the onset of a new year, with both accomplishment and rejection under my belt, I know that if success is to be, it is up to me. I have to learn the business of writing and that is what I am doing. One day, one step at a time.

The first step in this journey occurred in my living room. My husband, although not familiar with marketing for writers, has taught courses at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The topic? Small Business Development. We set up the laptop and he walked me through a two-hour Power Point presentation. First and foremost were the following:

  • Product. Define it clearly. You can’t market something if you don’t know what it is.  If your product is a manuscript, then you are marketing your writing. If your product lies in your ability to teach/support other writers, you are marketing yourself. Today, many authors (myself included) do both.

  • Goal.  Decide what you want.  If you wish to write just for the love of it, to share it with a few friends or family members or to join a writing group, then do it. If you wish to have recognition outside of that, determine what that looks like and set a timeline. What do you want to achieve in five years? That is your long-term goal. Break it down. What do you want to achieve in one year?

 All you need to know get started: Your Product and Your Goal.

As I learn more about the business of writing, I will share the info here,  in this blog. The posts will be short: business savvy mandates that you not spend five hours on something that you can do in one. Nor should you, the reader, spend five minutes learning something that you can glean in one.

If any of these posts are helpful to you, please use them and share them. Have any better ideas? Please let me know. Comments welcome…

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue




5 thoughts on “The Business of Writing: Product & Goal
  1. Nice post. I agree with a lot of what you said here, and look forward to more of your marketing posts. The one thing you say that disagrees with a lot of what I’ve read, though, is “If your product is a manuscript, then you are marketing your writing.” From what I’ve been told and read about the business of marketing (and this is probably peculiar to the business of marketing writing only, you should always be marketing yourself, not the work.

    Because you don’t plan to be a “one hit wonder” (at least we all hope not to be), the value is in YOU, not in the actual merchandise. This is why it’s bad to set up web pages with URLs with names like, although I think more and more authors are doing both: setting up a page for their author site and also a sister page for their novel. I know I see it a lot on Facebook with Like pages.

    What is your opinion on this matter?

    All my best,

    • Good point. Ultimately, one must have a good product… be it manuscript or teaching skills; at the core of both is the (hopefully charismatic) self. There are writers who neither have official websites nor give skills workshops; their writing alone is the promo. A rarity today. Most authors promote both their writing and themselves. Re: sister page for a novel…I think that can be a good idea… more visibility. Thanks for sharing!
      Congrats on “Dream with Little Angels”… looking forward to its release from Kensington in July.

      • “Grosse Männer soll man bewundern, aber man sollte sie niemals kennenlernen.” — Kurt Tucholsky in “Kolumbus oder die Entdeckung Amerikas”
        translation – one should admire great men, but one should never meet them. I feel the same about authors, artists, musicians–creative people, in general. I’m interested in their work, the creative product. I think focussing on marketing oneself could make one lose focus of the real product – which is the writing! My love of one author (public forum — I won’t say who) was damaged irreparably after I heard her in an interview and in my opinion she was over-marketing herself. Anyway, interesting discussion! HB

        • The point in the articles I’ve read is that you’re marketing yourself not just for general public consumption, but also for editors, publishing houses, agents, et al. I think your point is well made, and the truth it drives home for me is that, as public figures, we must always be careful of the face we are ultimately presenting to our public.

          I’m sure this has something to do with why J, D. Salinger went into reclusion 🙂

          It’s hard for me, because I’m a natural introvert, so I am out of my element, forcing myself to learn how to at least “appear” like an extrovert because, in the end, it’s the hands-on PR that’s going to sell your books (at least at first). You can have them sitting on every bookshelf across America, but they’ll end up in remainder bins pretty quickly if you don’t manage to promote them somehow and usually, these days (with publishing budgets what they are) that somehow is word of mouth.

          I think people have to like you and, in a way, feel they know you. This is why social media has become so important.

          Just my tale on it.

          All the best,

        • I love that quote and I relate to your point. Last year, among my favourite reads, was “The Crimson Petal and the White.” I knew nothing of the author and nothing of the novel other than the fact that a friend in my TaiChi group loved it. I started it, fell into it, looked forward to every minute I spent reading it… and was sad when it ended. Subsequently, I read everything that the author, Michel Faber, wrote. Wonderful praise… to be known by one’s craft.
          Great discussion. Insightful commentary. Thanks for contributing.

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