When I first started writing, I couldn’t think of anything else except actual writing. I only cared about getting through the first draft. As I was writing though, I realized there was so much I didn’t know about writing. I devoured books on the subject and I learned that in today’s world, writing requires more than the ability to write.
Lee Wind and Rita Crayon-Huang, moderators of the SCBWI Westside Schmooze have described writing as a career perfectly. In the most recent schmooze on Getting Published, they said:
“A Career in Children’s Literature means you have to find the balance between inspiration, craft, and business.”
We writers don’t lack inspiration and we know at least something about the craft of writing to get us through several drafts, but we usually forget about the business of writing.
Sure, we all have dreams of becoming as successful as J.K. Rowling; but dreams of wealth is only secondary to us. We write because we love to write, and because we want to share our wonderful stories with the world. Success for us means: having a lot of people read our stories and enjoy them as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them. We forget that in order to reach as many people as possible, we need to be not just savvy writers, but savvy business-persons as well.
“But we already have so much to do! Plotting, writing, re-writing, editing—these things take years, and they expect us to learn about business stuff as well?”
Well, it’s not expected of us, really. We can choose to be the shy, reclusive, hermit-writer type who does nothing but churn out story after story without caring if they get read or not.
But let’s be honest here. As writers, our ultimate dream is to be read by everyone. We didn’t spend all that time writing just to have our work locked up in a dusty filing cabinet. We didn’t pour all our sweat, blood, tears (and just about every kind of bodily fluid) into our masterpieces just so a person or two can pat us on the back and say “good job!”
No. The truth is, we write not just for the pleasure of writing, but also for the pleasure of being read.
And if we want to be read, we need to make an effort to learn not just the craft of writing, but the business of writing as well.
The business of writing has many aspects. But for me, the most important aspect of the writing business is making real connections. Real connections are important because they last a lifetime and because they help us in the different stages of our writing career.
As beginning writers, we connect with other writers to learn from them, to make friends and to have a support group when writing becomes such a lonely, unbearable task.
As writers who are in the process of finishing a manuscript, we connect with agents and editors to gain insight into the world of publishing. We make connections with them because we need them to guide us and help us get our stories out to many more people.
As published writers, we connect with our readers. We try to write stories which make them laugh, cry, think or re-think. When they connect with the experiences we write about, relate to our characters and agree or disagree with our opinions; they become the loyal readers who make our writing careers possible.
Without connections, our manuscripts remain manuscripts and the books we always dreamed of publishing vanish in the ether.
Making Connections Through Business Cards
Since making connections are so important for me, I always bring BUSINESS CARDS to any writing-related event or activity.
Business cards open a lot of doors and create many opportunities, especially for budding writers. Here are several uses I can think of for business cards (Feel free to add more in the comments section of this page)
- Promoting or marketing blogs / websites
- Creating social networks (especially if you’re just starting out)
- Expanding social networks (if you already have a hundred blog readers, but would like to add more)
- Following up with ever changing addresses and contact information (especially since we see some of our writing friends just once a year)
- Gaining friends (sometimes simple writing acquaintances become good friends when given a way to communicate with each other)
There are several ways to create a business card. You can go to Staples, Kinko’s or any other printing shop to have one designed and printed for you. Some printing businesses are available online so you can create your business cards without leaving your desk. Vistaprint.com lets you print 500 business cards for $10 and Moo.com http://us.moo.com/en/products/business_cards.php has a lot of ready-made as well as custom designs, which you might find fit for your business card.
I’ve chosen to go the cheaper route, however. I design and print my own business cards. I buy the Avery® Clean Edge Inkjet Business Card Paper, Ivory, 2″ x 3 ½ at Staples, use the Business Card size for the Label option under the Tools tab in Microsoft word, then type up the information I want on my business card such as:
- Contact Number/s
- Email Address
- Website/Blog Address
I also download a free writing-related clipart online (such as a typewriter or quill and pen) and add it to my business card, just to make it a bit more interesting.
I can also choose to add the following to my business cards if I feel like it:
- Company name
- Fax number
- Or any other way to contact you
Whenever I go to a schmooze session, a critique group, or a writing workshop I bring a whole bunch of business cards with me. I make sure I have more than enough to give away (It’s always better to have extra cards than to run out of them).
I not only give business cards away, I also ask for them. When people don’t have business cards with them, I ask for their email address instead. Emails are the least intrusive ways of re-connecting with people. I also ask for any blogs/website addresses if they have any. Sometimes, the shiest of writers will have the most brilliant blog, but I won’t know that unless I ask if they have one.
After exchanging business cards at writing functions, I do the following things:
I input the information (Name, Address, Phone No., Fax No, Email Address, Website/Blog Address and other Notes I have about the person) from the business cards into an excel file I’ve made up.
I also bought a separate business card book just to hold business cards I collect from writing events/ activities. So once I’m done typing up the information on these cards, I file them in this book.
Business cards are a great way of expanding our social networks. Exchanging business cards are a good step toward learning more about the business of writing.
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