How can you make a living as a writer? Here's your starting point...

Want to make a living as a writer some day? Kristen Kieffer explains the first step to success over on the She's Novel blog!

Oh, look! A new post in our author platform blog series has finally arrived. Hurray!

Today I am thrilled to be back with a brand new blog post for you. Our topic? Treating your writing as a business–or more specifically, why treating your writing as a business is your first step to full-time writing success. Sound like fun?

Before we dive in, it's important to note that you absolutely do not have to write with the intent to make a full-time income–or even a part-time one. If you simply want to write for the fun of it, that's fantastic! 

And that should be the basis of any writing habit anyway, no matter your intentions. So good job!

But if you plan to publish for profit–no matter how much profit you intend to make–the secret to selling books starts in recognizing that you aren't just a writer anymore. You're a small business owner.

Not convinced?

Here are five reasons why you're now in the business game:

1) You have a product. Some businesses make millions of dollars a year, while others struggle to make a dime, but what does every business have in common? They sell something. For some, this is a service or a consultation. But most businesses sell products, right?

If you plan to publish with the intent to make a profit, you're selling a product. 

Both fundamentally and legally, that makes you a business. So congrats, friend. If you’ve published a book, you’re now a small business owner. Cheers!


Note: This also means you need to register as a business in your country or state. While I can’t personally help you with this, I can say from personal experience that it’s likely a lot easier than you'd expect, so don’t freak out.

Check with your local business bureau or use your government’s online info center to get set up ASAP so you aren’t evading taxes and putting yourself at criminal risk. Cool?)



2) You have customers. If your books are your products, that makes your readers your customers. Hurray! Getting to know your customers well is a HUGE part of marketing your book successfully.

Take the time to discover their demographics, their interests, their online hangouts...anything and everything you can. The more you know about your ideal readers–the people who are most excited to buy your books–the more you can tailor your business to appeal to them.


3) You have a mission and a vision. Chances are, you aren’t just writing for writing’s sake. You probably have a reason for writing and a dream for where your novels will take you, right? Want to hear something cool?

Businesses also have these reasons and dreams, only they’re better known in the business world as mission and vision statements. 

A mission statement explains why a business exists (e.g. Livestrong’s “To inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”), while a vision statement describes the business’s long-term dream (e.g. Habitat for Humanity's “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.”). 

Not sure you have a mission and a vision for your writing business? I'll share my own below to give you some ideas:

Mission statement: I write to explore the grey areas in life. 

Vision statement: Encouraging readers' to explore the complexities of the world in which they live. 


4) You have a plan. If you’re anything like me, you’re not only a big dreamer; you have a plan in place to achieve the success you crave. And this plan? It’s not altogether unlike the business plan that companies create to map out their own paths to success.

And because your writing plan likely sees you profiting from the sale of your published books somewhere down the line, what better time is there than now to begin building a business plan that reflects your hopes and dreams?


5) You have sales. Or you will, right? If you plan to publish your novels someday, you will almost certainly put them up for sale in physical, digital, and/or audio book format. Someone (yes, someone!) will buy your book, and then BOOM.

You’ve just made your very first bit of income from your writing. And that income? It officially makes you and your books a business. Tada!

Now, I know all of this may seem scary, especially if you’ve never thought about the business side of publishing before. After all, most of us don’t want to run businesses. We just want to write books and maybe make a little side cash, right?

Unfortunately, the world's a bit trickier than that. But c'est la vie!

The good news? Treating your books as a business can actually help you grow your readership, sell more books, and make a bigger profit margin, perhaps even helping you become a full-time writer with a legit full-time income.

Sounds pretty sweet, right?

But how do you start treating your books as a business in the first place?

The very first step is to begin building an author brand–the rules, standards, and style guides by which you'll run every element of your book business. Branding your business can be a long process, but I promise it doesn't have to be complicated. 

Later this week–on Friday, to be exact–I'll walk you through each step of building your author brand in a new blog post, so keep an eye out for that. I'll link back here when the post goes live!

In the meantime, think about the five elements we talked about above, and consider what you want from your writing. Here are a few important questions to ask:

  • How important is it to me that I make a profit from my writing?
  • Would I still write if I knew I'd never make a cent?
  • Am I willing to put in the hard work it takes to publish and market a book?
  • Have I created a smart publishing plan?
  • Which author's career path would I most like to emulate?

Keep in mind that even traditionally-published authors must build author brands and market their novels on a daily or weekly basis. Your publishing house won't take care of everything. Okay? Cool.

Let's Chat!

Do you plan to publish your writing for profit some day? Don't let the idea of being a small business scare you! If you have any questions or fears, share them in the comments below and I'll be sure to help quell them however I can.

It's time to rock our writing lives, friends. Let's go!

Did you enjoy this post?

Sign up below to receive weekly exclusive writing tips + tricks and
a personal invite to the She's Novel Facebook community.

Spam is so not our jam. We respect your privacy, friend!

Kristen Kieffer is a writer of fantasy fiction and the creative writing coach behind She's Novel. She's made it her mission to help aspiring authors write sensational novels because obliterating expectations is her jam. Her other passions? Coffee and Tolkien, of course!

Kristen is the author of the upcoming The Books of Maveryn series and The Astral Series, as well as several non-fiction books for writers.