Is Fiction Writing a Business?

Is Fiction Writing a Business?

heads-up-ostrich-herd-1This discussion comes up quite often in my writing circles. I’m still astounded though when writers say they “just want to write.” I understand the need to write. I understand the feeling of bursting floodgates of words on the page. But if you want to make a living doing what you love and what you feel in the depths of your being is your purpose in life, you absolutely must treat it like a business.


Even if you have an agent and editor and publisher, you are still required to treat it like a business because you are the product. Yes, you, not the book. Your words are a part of you. The book is merely the tool to get to you. You have to do the marketing and the publicity and the Facebooking…as much as you hate it.


But here’s what I say to that: There are parts to every job that drive us crazy.


I love my job (I’m a speechwriter in my day job) but I hate having to take pictures at events. Hate it. I want to be taking notes and figuring out where the speaker went off message. Yet, I do it because I know those pics will go well with the written word. Pics garner more interaction online than any other medium. So if I want people to read the speech later, I must include pics with it.


The same can be said for fiction writing. We love the writing. We love our characters. Some of us even love the prep work (shout out to plotters). But the rest? Not so much. And that’s OK, as long as we do the rest anyway.


To help put this in perspective, I dug up some super cool stats that should motivate you to rethink the way you approach the side of the writing career you don’t like.


  • Romance was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012 (across the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists).
  • You know why? People read romance!  According to RWA Reader Survey, 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008.


I’m guilty. I’ve read one or two. That statistic is a few years old, but agents and editors around the country are anecdotally saying that statistic is still true if not rising, particularly with the explosion of e-books.


  • To put this in slightly freakish terms, Romance fiction was the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2012 at 16.7 percent. That’s consumer market! The whole thing, not just books.



Convinced yet? If not, consider this:


  • Romance fiction generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012. It also generated more twice as many sales as the next leading genre.




If you want to make a career out of fiction writing, understanding the business side of things is essential, vital even, to your success.  The market is making tons of money and a smart, savvy writer can snag a piece of the pie. You can make a career out of fiction writing. It’s there for the taking!





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