Heya, TWNers! I’m back today with another guest post from the one and only Grace A. Johnson! She truly needs no introduction as she’s practically become something of a TWN legend around here. 😉 Grace is one of my dearest friends AND the publisher who’s giving Don’t Let Me Go and the rest of the Lost Empire series a chance to sit on the shelves! It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be the person or writer that I am today without her support, guidance, love, and encouragement. She’s a wonderful young lady, both inside and out, and I’m SO excited to see where God’s going to take her in the years to come! In addition, as you might remember from my interview with Deigan Marie, Grace’s guest post is part of a series where in celebration of Don’t Let Me Go‘s upcoming release, I am featuring other authors with guests posts and interviews. And it seems only fitting to give the One Publisher to Rule Them All a chance! Grace’s has so much wisdom and the business side of writing to share with us today so without further ado, let’s jump into the post!
Hello there, TWN folks! It’s me again, Issabelle’s twin sister and the girl who shows up once a year with another post to bore you all to death. If you thought for a second I’d have something fun and interesting for ya this time, take a look at that title and think again.
Okay, okay, I’m being too dramatic—although you’ve gotta admit that words like “entrepreneurial” and “mindset” just don’t have the same ring to them as something like “Epic Adventures in Middle Earth” does. But despite the all-too-formal air, I do believe this post will be of some value to at least one of you.
~ want to turn your hobby into a career;
~ are interested in publishing your book (whether through self-publishing or traditional publishing);
~ want to make money as a writer;
~ are struggling to succeed as an indie author;
~ or are just plain nerdy about business (*raises hand*);
then this post is for you!
Issabelle asked me on for a guest post specifically in honor of her soon-to-be published novel, Don’t Let Me Go although I’m sure she’d let me guest post for no reason at all if I asked, which my small press will be publishing next year! We’re kicking off the marketing process, and I personally am working on the official launch of Sky’s the Limit Press, and with that comes a lot of ✨business stuff✨. Some of which is changing how I operate as an author myself.
Sounds kinda boring and overwhelming, right? If you’re like I was as a young writer, you probably think all the business stuff is just for big-name publishing companies and actual business people to deal with. We write, right? That’s what we do, and surely that’s enough. After all, attorneys and PR representatives and marketers and accountants exist for a reason.
But whether you self-publish or traditionally publish, you end up discovering that even writers have to handle a lot of legal and financial issues. We have to market and plan and understand how businesses operate so we can succeed as authors.
So if you want to make a profitable career out of writing—whether through publishing or freelancing or any such avenue—you’ve gotta start by changing your mindset and thinking like an entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur, per the dictionary’s definition, is someone who organizes and operates their own business, taking on financial risks and impossible tasks. They start from the ground up and bring their ideas to life, finding success despite industry standards and insurmountable odds. They overcome obstacles, challenge themselves, and learn about every facet of their business until they master it. They’re basically the unlikely hero of business, and what makes them stand out is that their success is not dependent on their qualifications (experience, education, etc.) but on their determination and perseverance.
And guess what? As an author, you can be an entrepreneur. You can do impossible things and grow despite the obstacles you may face. Especially as young Christian writers, thinking like an entrepreneur is invaluable to helping us overcome the stigma against Christian writers and books, the harsh conditions of the literary landscape, and the challenges that come with marketing and sales.
#1 | Make Goals
A key component of entrepreneurship and marketing (actually, business in general) is being goal-oriented. Always having something to look forward to and strive for is a huge motivator, and it keeps you on the right track.
Grab a notepad and pen and list some goals—both long-term and short-term, big and small. Then include a list of the steps you can take to achieve those goals. Maybe yours is to be published (that’s probably a no duh, isn’t it?), in which case the steps you can take would be to finish your book, query literary agents, and start building your author platform.
Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, & Time-bound.
#2 | Value Growth
Consistency and progress are so important, and we hear that a lot as writers…but if you focus on consistency and progress themselves, you miss out on what they were meant for: growth. We can write every day and finish ten dozen novels and never, ever grow as a writer; so it is for any other situation. So value growing and maturing in your craft, learning from your mistakes, and doing your best in whatever you do.
Look back over your writing from the last two or three years. Has your writing style changed? Have you learned anything? If not, try picking out the mistakes you’ve made, pick up a book or two on writing craft, and read books that are better than yours and take note of what the authors do.
There is always room for improvement, even in art.
#3 | Accept Feedback with Grace
When someone critiques something as personal and subjective as writing, we often get discouraged, stiffen our necks, or flat out have an identity crisis (I have witnessed this happen, y’all). But when we accept feedback—positive, negative, constructive, and even destructive—with grace, we can learn so much! Positive feedback can encourage us; constructive negative feedback can help us overcome our weaknesses; and even destructive negative feedback can show us who not to market our books to or how to handle people who disagree with us or are plain rude.
The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Proverbs 15:31-33 ESV
#4 | Foster Community
Being an author is like the ultimate hermit hobby, right? But just because it’s easy to hole yourself away in your bedroom and write for all hours without any human interaction doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In fact, even as an entrepreneur, one of the most independent peeps in the business world, community is extremely important. Having people to encourage and challenge you, help and share with you, and keep you accountable is everything!
Connect with fellow writers here on TWN, on forums like Kingdom Pen, or on social media!
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV
#5 | Seek Knowledge
There is so much to know and learn out there, and gaining knowledge and experience in a variety of things will ultimately make you a better writer! Try new creative outlets, explore different skills and hobbies, read widely, and learn all you can. Learning about accounting, marketing, and even business law can even contribute to your career as an author, whether you hire someone to handle those things, have a publisher, or end up handling all the particulars yourself.
Research is invaluable! Studying and learning about your craft will prepare you for whatever comes next in your author journey!
#6 | Challenge Yourself
It can be so easy to stay stagnant and comfortable, but it’s when we get out of our comfort zone and push ourselves that we realize we can flourish so much more outside of the limits. Challenge yourself to do something more, better, or new that you didn’t think you could—and put your trust in God rather than your own ability.
Try writing more words than usual in one sitting, or testing out that genre you didn’t think you could write. Set up a posting schedule one month that requires more effort than you typically put into it (just don’t overwork yourself). Tackle something like budgeting or starting a new project.
#7 | Serve God & Bless Others
Being an author is about so much more than bringing stories to life, just like being an entrepreneur is about so much more than achieving your dreams. It’s about serving others. Solving problems. Being a blessing.
If you can focus on being used by God in whatever He’s called you to do, you’ll find that success comes even easier. Not that you’ll be able to make millions within minutes or become famous from your first book (although that could totally happen), but that even the small things that happen, even the little ways you impact others, will be like big-time success in your mind—because glorifying God and edifying His people is far greater than anything else you could ever accomplish.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
Never forget, my fellow authors and entrepreneurs, that God has a plan for your lives (Jer. 29:11) that He prepared you for long before the foundation of the world (Eph. 2:10). Don’t let anyone, not even yourself, discourage you from living out your calling because of your age (1 Tim. 4:12) or any reason, for that matter. If He called you to it, He’ll see you through it (Is. 58:11)!
Yours in spirit & script,