Treating Writing Like a Business: Vision vs Employed

Writing Like a Business


When the discussion of treating writing like a business comes up, many people think of time management. There is another crucial aspect of any business, sometimes more crucial then being busy. That aspect is establishing the vision of the company. It’s not enough to simply say you’re going to be a full time author, without also saying how you anticipate to get there.

To start with, if being a full time author is the goal, what is the amount of money required to become full time? How does that money come in? How can you make that money consistently come in?

Let’s look at this from another perspective: A professional fiction ghost writer will make about 7 cents per word. To have a livable wage of $60,000 when self employed, you really need to be making $75,000 (Expenses, taxes, health insurance, etc). If there are 240 work days per year [which is pretty average for a traditional employment position], that means you need to earn $312.5 per work day. At 7 cents per word, that’s 4500 words a day; about 5 hrs at my pace. That’s completely do-able for a professional author. However, owning a business is not just working in the business.

A traditional funnel would be gathering email leads and then selling those people a book. Let’s say email leads can be emailed at most once per week. We need to make $1442 from each email sent (x 52 = $75k). So 40% open the email, 10% click the link, and 10% of those then buy a book. A big novel might have an average royalty of $5. We need to sell 289 books, so we need 28,900 opening the email. To get that many people opening email, we need to have 72,250 people in our email list. At 50 cents per lead, that’s $36k in expense.

So how does one find $36k and 5 hours daily to become full-time? The answer is, you don’t! Instead, most writers pour what money and time they can into building things up (slowly progressing year after year). Most authors will never be able to reach this goal in their entire writing careers. So it pays to take a step back and determine what money and time can go into it, what results you can get from that, and where you want to go with your writing career.

That’s the vision of your writing company.