This past Christmas, in the haze of gift-wrap, bitter cold, and general exhaustion of the holidays, my dear boyfriend, a fellow writer, gifted me a book. In general, giving me a book is extremely thoughtful and loving. In his case, he went above and beyond because he gave me Jane Friedman’s “The Business of Being a Writer”.
I love Jane Friedman’s work and I hate the business aspect of writing though not for the reasons you might think. I don’t know shit about making a business in general and the idea of turning my writing into a business is intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t.
Publishing is a business and agents pay attention to what sells and what doesn’t. You writing, whether we want to admit it or not, is part of that business. New trends will dictate what sells, which turns agents’ attention for which books to look at, which determines the chances of your superb book making it big. Myself, like every other writer, knows this to be a fact. What I personally struggle with is developing a business plan or a brand that defines myself as an author and makes my writing stand out in the crowd.
Naturally, I suspect that many balk when the words “branding” and “business” come up with writing, but the more I thought about it, the more I found myself agreeing with Friedman’s views. Your writing is your brand. True, that your writing and therefore your brand will change over time as you develop as a writer, you will still retain your instinct and style and that is what people will recognize when they read your work.
As I laid in my bed, highlighting every sentence that was pure gold, I started to wonder what my brand was exactly and what people responded with. I looked back at old praise and reviews, both from my big projects and smaller ones, and what I discovered that a lot of people liked my work when I was torturing my characters and giving unexpected twists and turns. That’s great, but it’s not a lot to go on. Anyone can torture and give twists.
To grow as a writer, and to reach the level of writing that I want to be at, I need to write more. I need to read more. I need to experiment and explore elements that I love, hate, and am wholly indifferent to. By the end of January, I will have a business plan set up and ready to go. I may not have my brand yet, but I will have a plan.