Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Need a New Business Partner

The problem with running a freelance writing "business" is that you are pretty much a one-man band. Not only do you need to manufacture the product, you have to be the salesman, the marketing division, the legal staff and the guy responsible for the coffee and donuts.

Production I don't have a problem with. Since proposing to start treating my writing as a business some six years ago, I am writing better and more consistently than ever. It's the joker in charge of marketing and sales that I have a problem with. In truth, that comes as no surprise; my lack of business acumen is long documented—I still have a copy of a memo I sent to my boss many years ago assuring him there was no future in Microsoft Windows, and I bought a Beta Max; 'nuff said—but as I enter the seventh year of my "business" I would have thought that, even by accident, I might have made more progress.

It so happens that I track my hours and finances meticulously (yeah, I'm a bit OCD) so I can reveal that last year, my writing salary was £0.21 an hour. Not exactly enough to make you consider giving up the day job, especially when you take into consideration that, during the same periods, I spent £1.48 an hour.

To exacerbate my dilemma, I am currently in a position where I need to make a choice about which direction to steer my business in. Though I am chuffed to bits about having a book out, this presents a new problem: do I continue to write humorous books on being an expat, or return to mainstream novels? I can't do both—there simply are not enough hours in the day—and the only thing I can be certain of is, if there is a business decision to make, I will make the wrong one (refer to earlier mention of memo and Beta purchase).

Another irritating fact is, any chance I have of publishing a second book hinges on the first one. "Postcards From Across the Pond" doesn't have to be a best seller, but I can't really see myself writing to a publisher with my one and only credential being a book that sold 12 copies.

So the guy in charge of marketing and sales had better start pulling his weight or he's going to find himself out of a job.

3 comments:

  1. Totally understand your situation. My production was great, accounting was fine, but the sales and marketing guy was a total idiot. So I never quit my day job. Best move I made!

    Now, I have a steady income without having a day job, and I can write for fun (and for free, if need be) through there are still some people who are willing to pay me. Fancy that?

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  2. When you find out how let the rest of us know.

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  3. Outside of my wildest fantasies, I can't see me quitting my day job. I'm okay with that, I just want to get a handle on this marketing thing. And if I find out how to do it, you'll hear it here first.

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