Monday, December 2, 2013

How to Be an Entrepreneurial Writer

Though writing is an art, it’s vital to combine it with business savvy in order to give yourself a competitive edge. A keen understanding of the business of books and media will enhance your professionalism: you’ll approach clients, agents, and publishers more tactfully; pitch yourself for projects more frequently and sincerely; and learn to protect yourself and your financial interests.

Moreover, by becoming an entrepreneurial writer, you'll learn how to build confidence, be resourceful, take risks, earn more, and convince publishers and agents to invest in YOU.

Here are some ways to adapt an entrepreneurial mindset into your writer’s psyche:

1. Be Opportunity Focused 

Entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for potential business ideas. As a writer,  condition yourself to become curious about the world around you—ask questions, observe people and their environs, pay attention to trends—so you’ll be more likely to find inspiration that’s unique to you and relevant to your audience.

What can you write that could make someone’s life better or easier? How can you create value through your writing? Focus on these questions as you decide what stories to pitch.

2. Prepare Your Resources 

Entrepreneurs have vision. They plan a clear path that will get them from where they are to where they want to be. An entrepreneur is always prepared and knows how to make a spontaneous good first impression.

As a writer, you also have to look ahead. Figure out your skill set, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Determine your USP (unique-selling point). Does your writing fit a niche, or is your strength your versatility? Do you have institutional knowledge about a subject that could be shared to benefit others? Be proactive about the results—if you’re interested in writing in a specific genre or style but don’t have much prior experience, reach out to people who do, or sign up for a class that will teach you the basics.

3. Network, Network, Network 

Entrepreneurs are, by and large, master networkers. The old adage is true: it’s not only what you know that matters, but who you know.

Always look for ways to expand your network. Attend panels, workshops, and cocktail parties. Frequent bookstores, readings, and book launches. Figure out where the people you're writing about—or the audience you're writing for—gather, and make it a habit to spend time in those places. You never know whom you’ll meet.

And always carry business cards with your contact information and website, so you can continue the conversation later. Feel like you hit it off with someone at an event? Send an email expressing how delighted you are to meet them, show an interest in what they do, and ask follow-up questions. If you want to get involved with their organization, set up a meeting.

4. Take Risks 

Entrepreneurs tend to be confident, inspired, and dynamic. They attempt things that are slightly out of reach—and are often rewarded.

Every so often, pitch yourself for a project that seem a little out of your league. With the right combination of talent, timing, and luck, you might be rewarded by landing the gig. And even if you don't, the exercise will refine your pitching skills and could lead to a new connection. You might even receive feedback that will improve your profile as a candidate in the future. 

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