There are three distinct aspects of being a writer: the craft of writing, the mechanics of writing, and the business of writing. I tackle the last one in my upcoming book, Writing as a Business: Production, Distribution, and Marketing. It’s rare to get a workshop, let alone a conference, that focuses on at least some of the aspects of the business of writing.
Enter the Writer CEO one day workshop, right here in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Led by two astute authors who have also worked at freelancing in various capacities and still do, the workshop focused on some of the basic principles of marketing, money, and overcoming crippling self-doubt to finish projects and take risks.
First up, we have Colleen Story. She “is on a mission to inspire people from all walks of life to overcome modern-day challenges and find creative fulfillment. Her latest release, Writer Get Noticed!, is a strengths-based guide to help writers break the spell of invisibility and discover unique author platforms that will draw readers their way. Her prior nonfiction release, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, was named Solo Medalist in the New Apple Book Awards, Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book, and first place in the 2018 Reader Views Literary Awards.
She’s also the mastermind behind the Writing and Wellness website, a first of its kind website focuses on, you guess it, writer’s health. Turns out, sitting in front of a computer all day typing is not good for you. Who knew? Well, Colleen did, and she shares tips, tricks, and the stories of others to inspire writers to live healthier lives.
Donna Cook (you’ll find her fantasy work under Donna Cook and she also writes romance under a pen name) has worked as a freelance editor, something she does little of anymore, but now focuses on writing fiction. She figured out early on the value of knowing how to run your writing and your freelance career (if you have one) like a business. She’s a brilliant teacher, and her cash flow tool is, as far as I know, unique and brilliant. (more on that below)
Her take on marketing, author platform, and what is working today for authors shows an outstanding grasp of the industry and the writer lifestyle.
Other workshop organizers, take note. This, my friends, is how things should be done. Things started with an “everyone together” session that set the tone and the subject matter for the day. Both speakers were introduced, and each spoke briefly about different aspects of the day.
After that, it was immediately time to dig in with the first class, an overview of being overwhelmed as a writer and a creative. Clearly drawn from some of the principles outlined in her Overwhelmed Writer Rescue book (brilliant, by the way. You MUST read this), Colleen led us through some common causes of being overwhelmed, and how to combat them. The presentation was informative, entertaining, and relevant.
The Money Presentation
Alright, I know I was talking about format, but we’re going to pause from that for a second to talk about the second presentation, the one everyone was in, and nearly everyone needed. The money talk, or the talk about the silent killer of author businesses: cashflow. The greatest takeaways from the class are simple: an understanding of cashflow and how that knowledge can help you make decisions, and a unique tool to track and manage cashflow.
Many writers might want a class first on how to generate cashflow, but those came later. The truth is, many people fail to understand this principle even in their personal finances. You can quickly see how patience pays off, and how the right timing for a purchase can make all the difference to your business.
On top of the knowledge she presented, Donna Cook has built a tool, one that as far as I can tell is unique. In other words, there are some great tools to help you with tracking where your money goes, but there are few that offer you the ability to do projections, anticipate income and expenses before they are right in your face, and alter the way you spend accordingly.
You can get the tool here, along with a brief course that explains how to use it. I’d start with the LITE version, not because the Deluxe does not have value, but until you are more comfortable with cashflow and how it works, it will be harder for you to understand.
Here’s the thing: if you got nothing else out of this entire workshop, this one presentation would be worth the price of admission, which was more than reasonable in the first place. Understanding cashflow for a writer can mean the difference between success and failure.
Now that my rabbit trail is concluded, we’ll circle back around to format. The first two sessions took us to a lunch break. The information was not so overwhelming that it created overload at lunch time, but what we got was enough to stimulate conversation and many of us were already thinking ahead, anxious to get started applying what we learned.
In the afternoon, things changed up, and there were essentially two tracks, one with each speaker, each with a different focus. My wife and I, who were both in attendance, split up for a couple and did a couple together based on what we needed to focus on.
And that was the beauty. From building platform to book launch and more advanced marketing techniques to some simple advice on finishing projects, the afternoon was filled with good advice. Even with only two presenters, it was hard to decide between the sessions offered. The workshop was well organized, breaks were ample but not too long, and the closing session offered opportunities to win some valuable prizes.
An optional cocktail hour afterward offered mingling opportunities, and like other “bar con” activities at similar events, there were a lot of things to take away there too.
Look, I talk to a lot of writers, most of whom want to write for a living at some point. Some will say things like, “I just want to write, not be an entrepreneur.” Tough. If you are a writer, and you want to sell books, even if you never intend to do it for a living, you will have to treat your writing like a business. Your book is a product, and you need to be able to sell it.
You need to know if you are making money and how much. You also need to know how to finish projects so you can sell them, how to build an author platform, and how to get yourself and your work noticed. You need to do all of that without being paralyzed because you are overwhelmed by all these things you need to do.
It’s tough. Being a Writer CEO is not for the faint of heart. It’s rare to come across a workshop that talks about it so well and so thoroughly. If you did not get to go to this workshop this time, go when it is offered again. Follow Writer CEO for updates and check out Writing and Wellness if you want to be the healthiest writer you can.
Above all, treat your writing as the business it is. You’ll get more out of it that way, and you’ll reach more people with your books and the message you want to share.