Certain Business Lessons That Don’t Apply to Writing (IMHO)

©istock.com/Getty Images (US), Inc.

Thirty years in the business world taught me a lot. Not everything was useful for launching a writing gig, however.

Business lesson one: Be a chameleon and change your colors when your customers want you to. But if I change my voice, stories or genre too much, how long would my readers stick around? They’d be confused, right?  

Business lesson two: Keep the status quo at all costs. Change is costly. It takes time to retool manufacturing plants, get the right staff in place, and market products. With writing? Personally, I get tired of reading the same story with just different characters. Surprising readers, introducing them to new thinking or feeling, and designing whole new worlds is a writer’s goal.

Business Lesson three: The customer is always right. This is a tricky one in author land. For one, you’re not writing for anyone who reads. You are writing for (hopefully) first yourself and then secondly for a specific readership. Pleasing everyone seems the fastest way to a lukewarm story at best.

Business lesson four: Your personality shall fit in with what is acceptable. Oddballs need not apply. As an author? Bwaahahahahahaha. My favorite author bloggers and tweeters expose their quirks with abandon. It’s what keeps me coming back.

Business lesson five: If it doesn’t feed the bottom line, exit. Can you guess what you’re about to read next? Yep. Most authors don’t write to make money. They write because they can’t not write. (You like that double negative?) Money is great—downright awesome. But it’s not why I write.

2 thoughts on “Certain Business Lessons That Don’t Apply to Writing (IMHO)”

  1. Dear Elizabeth,
    Thanks for the comments on what does and doesn’t work. Very insightful. After owning and running my own business for 15 years, it was very hard for me to reconcile what I know of successful business practices with what works for me as an author of erotic romance.
    First and foremost among these hard lessons was “write for YOUR readers, those people who read YOUR books…not the general public.” Ignore the “I couldn’t finish this book. It was boring.” and pay attention to, “I loved this story because…but I wish she would have…”
    In retail trade, we are taught to homogenize our product to appeal to the broadest possible group of buyers. This simply doesn’t work in writing. The kinky, edgy, idiosyncratic is what attracts and keeps my readers–not boring, bland, homogenized.
    Write to please yourself and your readers and turn a deaf ear to others.
    Of all the things I’ve learned, that has profited me the most.

  2. Well said, PAK. Good advice on what to pay attention to, especially from readers. We can’t please everyone – nor should we. That is going to be the hardest lesson for me, given my career was all about people-pleasing. Thanks for commenting!


Leave a Comment