Why you must think like a business leader if you are a creator

The writers, musicians, and artists who survive and thrive understand the business

Why you must think like a business leader if you are a creator
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Every time Amazon rolls out a new program for selling books, you can set your watch to the howls of the writers

It's like watching a psychological meltdown happen before your eyes.

After jumping on the bandwagon with the enthusiasm of the Born Again, the emotions wear off and they're left holding the bag of Reality.

Then they're on to next month's fad.

Vella Substack Patreon Wattpad.

Chasing tactics like a dog going after a car.

It's depressing to watch.

And if you aren't careful, those mind-worms will gnaw their way into your own head and do terrible harm.

Yes, it's true, Amazon's not going to sell your books for you.

You might have to roll up your sleeves, do a little research, and get your hands dirty promoting yourself.

One reason that I refuse to be involved in online writer's communities is down to this single fact:

Most of these people are lazy whiners who are not just ignorant but actively resistant to learning and effort.

"I don't want to learn all this marketing stuff."

Think about what this attitude means. It's an attitude of complete and total entitlement.


You shouldn't have to do any work to sell your words

Part of the explanation is the TradPub model of getting paid.

Before ebooks and the NewPub revolution, you had two real options to get paid as a fiction writer.

  1. You sold stories to the magazines.
  2. You got an agent who sold your book to a publisher.

You didn't have to promote the magazines because the magazines had the audience built in.

Whenever you have media, you have the potential for traffic -- reach, the number of people who see the media -- you have distribution, and you have authority baked in to the product.

You mostly didn't have to do the marketing once your book went to the publisher. They allegedly handled that in-house, though in reality most of their authors got little or no promotion.

Either way, most of these fresh-faced writers come in with no understanding of the business, the logistics of selling, the realities of marketing and finances.

They just want to write, gosh darnit, and not think about all this stuff.

Bad move.


If you want to make a living, you'd best be very interested in the science of making a living

Nothing sells itself. Not even diamonds.

De Beers has been hammering the diamond propaganda into our collective consciousness since 1914. The fake science of diamonds, the cultural myth that you "owe her" a diamond... on a recurring plan with each new anniversary... didn't spring up out of nothing.

Many writers still operate under the mass hallucinations that you find kicked around in every community of writers.

They don't have to lower themselves to marketing or copywriting or heaven forbid selling their work.

"I am a serious artiste and my work should stand on its own."

Let me ask you this.

If you aren't interested in talking to your readers, having relationships with your readers, giving your readers what they will like and enjoy, what kind of writer are you?

If you aren't interested in the art and science of profitable business, how do you expect to earn a living from ANY work you do?

Total inflexibility of thought and action.

First thing, don't hang around inflexible people who, for whatever reason, can't or won't adapt to present realities.

Second thing, even if writing and publishing (may have) once worked on autopilot, when you sold your IP to a third-party in order to not "have the hassle" of promoting yourself, you have no guarantee that it will continue on that way.

Doesn't matter how good an author you are, how skilled, technically adept, and raw-talented you are.

Most books sell less than 5,000 copies. Most of those books are indistinguishable in technique to the lay reader.

You can't live on that.

Even if you think of yourself as an author/writer, you probably don't want to be in the business of exchanging words for money.

Most people aren't reading books. Even the people that buy books mostly aren't reading them. The average adult in the US never reads a book after high school.

That's your target audience if you are "a writer", if you insist on trading raw word counts for a fixed amount per transaction.

Do you want pats on the back from other critics with six digits worth of student loan debt for an MFA working for dying publishing houses... or do you want to earn a living from your writing?

Then you must realize that...


Your craft is not your business

The best plumber in your area, if you are going by knowledge and skill, may not be the best paid plumber in your area.

You can freely substitute any service professional for "plumber" in that sentence without changing its truth.

The best paid plumber is likely to be the guy who is skilled at promoting and selling his services to a clientele which is able, willing, even happy to pay for them.

Your product or service is not what you are selling.

The best-paid professional in ANY category is not trading their services for time.

They've found a way to attract better clients.

Better yet, they've found out how to change the context of the sale such that price is no longer the determining factor.

Ask yourself this. If you show up on Amazon, with the same kind of product, marketed in the same way as everyone else with the same ads, same boring social media "buy my book" posts, same email newsletter that nobody reads...

What makes you worth more than a unit sale of a $2.99-9.99 Kindle book?

Let me answer that for you: Nothing.

Meanwhile, you can go over to Kickstarter and find authors who are earning $15, $30, even $100+ contributions from their fanbase.

For "the same" product. They're getting a book, quite likely in a premium format with ample bonus content at the higher price points.

But a book it is.

The Kindle store and Kickstarter are two different contexts where price, value, and deliverable exist in very different relationships.

That's just one angle to think about.

How many more could you think up if you limbered up your imagination and broke out of the chains of TradPub that imprison you?

How many "serious writers" do you know who would read this and start complaining?

How many would read about an idea that they could take action on right now and even take the first step of clicking over to Kickstarter and looking around?

It takes a mouse click and 15 minutes. And most won't bother.

These are the people that would rather moan and complain that it's "too hard".

They'd rather throw their credentials in your face, puffing up their egos by reminding you that they are Very Well Thought Of among the mediocre midwits who will still be mediocrities in 10 years.

Stop hanging around those people.

They will still be chasing the next shiny thing. Talking big but never executing, never following through.

They pollute your mental space with ugly beliefs.

If they aren't going where you want to go, then you must exclude them from your world.

If you want success, you need to start with the attitudes, the mindsets, the frames of reference.

You don't get that by hanging around with people who refuse to learn, complain rather than take the slightest action to improve, who always react to tactics instead of acting with intention.

If you must be around others, be around others of a like mind, who can elevate and inspire.

Whatever you do, don't carry dead weight around in your own head. Fill your mind with great things, positive things, and high expectations.

Thinking like a leader running a business isn't optional for creatives and writers. Your creative work IS your business and you have to lead it.

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