How serious you are about writing depends on how willing you are to share your work and promote it. Many people love to write but not to market their books. Authors who treat writing as just a hobby are unlikely to be successful.
Many authors write because they enjoy it, but promoting their books, seriously trying to sell their books, or even writing books that an audience will read requires being willing to make a few sacrifices for the sake of being professional. Here are ten top signs that you may view writing as just a hobby rather than a profession.
Writing is likely just a hobby for you if you say or think any of the following:
- I just write it as it comes out. It’s inspired. I don’t believe revision is necessary. Yeah, and I can tell you didn’t revise. Sadly, I’ve seen too many books where it was obvious the author did no revision. Typos, misspelled and wrong words, repetitive phrases, illogical plots, dialogue that isn’t clear. These books are a mess. No one is going to be impressed by them. Not only are you obviously a hobby writer, but I’m sad to say that you’ve wasted your money publishing a book that no one will buy, or if they do, will only hurt your reputation.
- I can’t afford an editor and my daughter just graduated from college as an English major so I’m sure she will catch any typos. Please! I recently had an author send me a manuscript that his daughter, the English major, proofread for him. Something is seriously wrong with public education if she was given an English degree. She didn’t catch half the typos if any at all—worse, there were more grammatical errors than there are words in this article. And even if the English major is good at catching errors, it doesn’t make her a book editor. How many books has she written? How many books has she edited? You need to hire a professional. Better to spend the money and have a quality product than to have a book that people will put down in disgust because of the typos. If you’re serious about being an author, you will invest the money to have the book edited.
- My friend’s son is really good at art so he suggested his son could do my illustrations. As with the book edited by the daughter, how many books has the son illustrated? Someone who is good at drawing is not necessarily a professional artist. Put some thought into how you want your illustrations to look. Audition some different artists. Perhaps the young man’s drawings will be good enough for your book—if so, great, but don’t let personal feelings interfere with the success of your book. Remember, producing a quality book is a business decision.
- I’ll be happy if I just break even. Do you think Donald Trump thinks that way about his investments? If you are serious about being an author, don’t think about breaking even. Think about making a profit. Even if you break even on your printing and production costs, have you really broken even on the hundreds or thousands of hours you spent writing, not to mention marketing your book? Make sure you know how much your book will cost to produce, what your profit margin is, what percentage bookstores and other retailers will want, and develop a plan to make a return on your investment.
- I don’t have the Internet so I can’t market my book online. My computer is so old it won’t allow me to access Facebook or Twitter. Get a new computer. Quit making excuses. If you’re serious about writing and you don’t have Internet access where you live, move to where you can get it. If you don’t want to move, hire someone who can check your email, monitor your Internet presence, post your blogs, promote your book online, and keep you regularly updated. If you want to succeed, you need to keep up with technology. Plain and simple. No excuses.
- I’ve decided I’ll only have my books here at the Country Bookstore. The staff is really nice, and I’m not really into running around to all those other bookstores. Okay, and I’m sure your readers aren’t into running across state to find your book at the one place you have it for sale. They will go where it is convenient for them to make their purchases, and they won’t ever see your book in those stores so they’ll never buy it. No one is going to know about your book if you don’t make it visible in many locations, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online. Visibility is a requirement for book sales. The more effort you put into marketing your book, the bigger the rewards are likely to be.
- I’m not going to get up to give a speech. No problem. Plenty of other authors will. The library or conference will invite a different author. If you don’t talk about your book, then you can’t provide a hook to make readers interested. People want to be entertained, and even if you’ve written the best book ever on your subject, remember, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So get up and give that speech. If you’re shy, go to public speaking groups or get a coach so you get better at speaking in public. You need to present yourself so people will get to know and like you, and then they will want to read your book.
- I’m not going to sit at that art fair for eight hours a day all weekend. Yes, doing book shows and art fairs can be long days. They can also be exhilarating experiences where your readers have a chance to meet you personally. They get the opportunity to speak to you individually, to have you personally sign their books. What an opportunity for them! And a chance for you to meet people who might never go to a bookstore or look for your book, but now find you unexpectedly, to your benefit and theirs.
- I don’t see any point in going to those publishing conferences. They’re just for socializing. That’s true. You can get a lot of information at publishing conferences and writer’s group meetings, but mostly they are about socializing. They are an opportunity for writers and publishers to get together and share information, to brainstorm, to connect, to give each other ideas and make each other aware of opportunities. Networking is really about making friends. The more friends you have, the more people who will be talking about your book, and the more books you will sell, so get to that publishing conference and socialize, socialize, socialize!
- I don’t want to write full-time because then it would be like work. Hmm, well, I imagine you’re working now. Are you working in a call center, dealing with customer complaints, making someone else rich, putting up with a nagging boss, doing a job that leaves you exhausted at the end of the day, sacrificing your family time for a job you hate? Let’s get real here. You love writing. It’s what you’re passionate about. What’s wrong with working at it—with having a job you will love, if not fully, then a lot more than the day-job you have now? Writing full-time—that’s not work, that’s living the dream and never having to work again. Don’t you deserve to spend your life doing what you love? Of course you do.
After reading this list, you probably realize you have some of the “writing as a hobby” mindset. Now that you’re aware of it, get rid of it. No more excuses. Make today the first day of the rest of your professional writing career!
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.