We’ve been talking about looking at what you’re doing as a writer as though you were a business.
The usual immediate reaction to that is to imagine yourself trapped in a boring office, perhaps with a briefcase, involved in filling in forms and things like that. That’s NOT what I mean at all.
A business is something that exists to provide something of value to the world in exchange for money. As a writer, all that’s happened is that you have left the last four words off the end of the last sentence. You are deeply passionate about creating something of value for readers; you are devoted to getting it out into the world.
You neglect, forget, don’t understand or simply blank out the ‘in exchange for money’ bit.
Instead, you fall prey to the default model: you write and write and write and chase submissions and try to cope with rejections and — nine times out of ten — you don’t get paid even when you do get a piece accepted.
It’s an understood basic that, when you walk into any kind of shop or deal with any sort of business online, at some point you will be required to part with money in exchange for whatever it is that that business is providing. It’s so obvious and so much a part of the way our society works that you don’t even think about it. You want something, you see it, you reach for it and then you head for the checkout to pay for it.
Businesses have processes which demonstrate a track record of delivering. You expect to receive from them what it says on their tins or on their website. If a business provides what it says it will provide, customers respect it, get something of value, and probably return for more, perhaps even bringing friends.
What if you, as a writer, could adopt this model?
It would be radically different, wouldn’t it?
Imagine setting up a shop with a ‘Stories for Sale’ sign outside. Inside are large numbers of short stories featuring your unique voice, well-crafted, able to be relied on for emotional effect, ranging across a number of selected genres.
Imagine customers wandering in, browsing your shelves and selecting the piece of fiction they desire. They walk to the checkout and buy that piece, take it home, read it, and then next week return for more.
How could that possibly work? It flies in the face of the conventional model of fiction writing.
Doing it this way is all about what you say you do and how you do it.
The key to success is to have a unique voice or quality or set of characteristics and make it your own.
I’m taking this one small step at a time because it’s so fundamentally radical and unlike anything you have probably ever considered that each part can trigger all kinds of confusion.
‘That wouldn’t work!’ says part of your mind. ‘No one would visit my shop! I already have a website and I’m not seeing the kind of thing you’re describing! No one is interested!’