Answers To Your Burning Questions About the Business Side of Writing’ by Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan

Answers To Your Burning Questions About the Business Side of Writing

Welcome to my first column for Literary Arts Review. When I wrote a book in 2009, I knew almost nothing about the business side of writing. It was sheer luck that I had a reasonable idea and then found an agent willing to take me on. The first thing my fabulous agent, Joelle Delbourgo, did was guide me through the proposal writing process. I learned almost everything I know about the business side of writing while creating that proposal. The elements — first and foremost, having something people want to read about, but then knowing the target market, understanding the competition, building a platform, having a marketing and promotion plan — remain essential to how we market our writing in the digital age. Gone are the days when being a really good writer was all that was necessary to succeed.

Every other week I hope to bring you words of wisdom that will make the business side of publishing a little less daunting and a little less obnoxious. Like the words of wisdom from Orna Ross in her post Ross suggests that we connect to readers by tapping into our “deepest motives for writing the book in the first place.” What great advice. Whatever your motivation — Ross lays out three primary categories: inform or educate; inspire or motivate change; and display or entertain — you won’t be a hack if you let your motivation set the tone of your social media participation. Ross puts it nicely when she says:

“You must set out with the intention of enjoying the social dimension of social media.”

Our avoidance of social media is directly correlated to how much we enjoy the social dimension. Just as some real estate agents are salesmen, others (the most successful) are advisors who help people while they make a huge financial and life-altering decision. In other words, you can choose to be an advisor and not a salesperson. Put another way, you won’t feel like a charlatan if you don’t act like one.

I think It’s fair to say that no one wants to sell their writing to readers. So, why not go out there are make some virtual friends instead. If you can reframe your social media activity so that it is in service to a community of people with shared interests, then the experience will be rewarding. Sharing bits of knowledge with members of a community is what good community members do. The way to avoid being a crass self-promoter is to be a member of the community first and a writer second (or third or fourth).

Getting back to this column, we will cover a bunch of business side of writing topics including but not limited to:

* The Writing Taboos You Should Break

* Why ‘Platform’ Is Not A Dirty Word which leads to … 6 Ways To Promote Your Platform Without Ticking People Off

* 6 Unbelievable Writing Success Stories

* The 15 Best Blog Posts About Writing

* How Book Marketing is Like a School Bully

* What Twitter Can Teach You About Writing

* 9 Podcasts About Writing

* Why Building a Platform is Just Like Dating

* The Top 20 Writers on Twitter (Are They Even Worth Following?)

It goes without saying that writing and publishing has changed a lot since 2009, and since I only recently decided to turn my hand to writing creative nonfiction, I am as interested as you in finding answers to all those burning questions about the business side of writing.

So, please, send me your questions and I will do my best to find answers using my network of writers, marketers, and other friendly know-it-alls. And, if they can’t opine and shed light, I’ll put on my journalism hat and find other people who can.

So, lay all your questions on me via email: [email protected] or Twitter: @jenikaplan. I’m ready.

Jennifer Kaplan is a former marketing consultant who recently decided to turn her hand to creative nonfiction. Jennifer continues to write about the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (Penguin Group USA). She was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. Jennifer has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA – follow her on Twitter @jenikaplan and Google +

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