I’m so excited to share with you a guest post from Laurie for our writer-entrepreneur post today! She’s a wonderful and accomplished writer with some great insight for all of us writer-entrepreneurs. Thank you for sharing with us, Laurie!
Thank you so much, MaryLynn, for inviting me to your space!
In 2013, I got laid off from my job and soon made the important shift from hobby-writer to author-entrepreneur. It has made all the difference in my life, career, faith, and work to push past the fear and go after my dreams.
I worked in the book industry for seven years before I started writing for publication, so I’ve observed many different authors along the way. There are several key differences that separate author-entrepreneurs from those who write as a hobby. Let’s explore those, shall we?
Author-entrepreneurs treat their writing as work. Whether published or aiming for publication, the first step that separates a hobbyist from a career writer is considering it (super gratifying) work instead of play. This means there’s a level of dedication, consistency, and goal setting—even if the deadlines are self-imposed.
Author-entrepreneurs actually show up for work. No matter how busy the rest of life may be with day jobs, families, school, there are regular times the author-entrepreneur carves out for writing. A little bit every day really adds up.
Author-entrepreneurs finish their work. They have the discipline and focus to stick with a project (once they find the right one) instead of starting and abandoning a work-in-progress for something shinier once the honeymoon stage is over. Yes, that initial burst of creative energy and infatuation will wane, but an author-entrepreneur will show up to work, even when it means pushing through the sludge to reveal the beauty underneath.
Author-entrepreneurs study their craft. They’ve done their research and listen to podcasts, read blogs and craft books, and also study the work of a variety of authors who are doing their genre well. Authors cannot live by inspiration alone, so it’s important to be surrounded by quality resources that will strengthen their work.
Author-entrepreneurs have a cohesive vision for their work and platform. I just wrapped up teaching a month-long class on branding for authors that emphasized the importance of having a vision, knowing their audience, and allowing those two things to inform every decision as they work to build a platform. In addition to studying their craft, author-entrepreneurs know (or at least are dedicated to learning) what sets apart their voice from others and what their work uniquely offers their audience.
Author-entrepreneurs surround themselves with an incredible team. When it all boils down, the writing profession is essentially a one-man job. But author-entrepreneurs—even the introverts—know the importance of critique partners, writing groups, and mentors. Having trusted writers ahead in the game and at the same level on the journey adds valuable input, accountability, and encouragement to propel work that can be very isolating at times.
Author-entrepreneurs put their work out there—and take feedback gracefully. At first, this means showing their work to critique partners and mentors they can trust, whose strengths complement their weaknesses. Learning how to discern and implement constructive feedback is an important step. Then, when the work is sparkling and ready, it means submitting to contests, agents, and publishing professionals. It means taking the ultimate step of bravery while a hobby-writer may be content to move on to the next work and let the last one collect dust.
Author-entrepreneurs can’t be stopped by rejection. While rejections, negative reviews, and disheartening feedback can be painful, the author-entrepreneur is uniquely fueled by the necessity to get words on the page. So where a hobbyist may quit altogether after a project doesn’t meet her expectations, the author-entrepreneur adapts and moves on to the next one. She stays true to her vision and plan—after a pint of ice cream or so—with the knowledge that every project improves her work and no critic can take away what she loves to do.
There’s no shame in writing for a hobby, in being content (like I was for several years) to put down a project and pick it back up every so often when inspiration strikes. But I wish I could have coffee with every writer who dreams of more but believes he or she doesn’t have what it takes to be an author-entrepreneur. I would convince them that, with a lot of hard work and gumption, they could do it if they really wanted.
And I’d tell them that, when unleashed, the combination of business and dreams fueled by story is a powerful, powerful thing.
Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. Her novella That’s When I Knew was featured in the Love at First Laugh collection, and her debut novel, With No Reservations, releases in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming. You can connect with Laurie on her website, Facebook page, and Instagram.