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Are You Doing What It Takes to Keep Make Sure Your Writing Business Stays Healthy and Growing?
By Amber Ramsey
As a literary entrepreneur, you constantly strive to make your business as productive and financially healthy as possible. You work hard to keep up with the ever-changing business world and stay ahead of new trends in marketing. You want to keep your support staff, vendors and contractors happy and your readers and publisher satisfied. This is a lot to oversee at once. If you’ve been wondering if you are doing everything you can to keep your business successful, here is a general checklist for you to evaluate the efficacy of your literary business practices.
Follow the sound business basics to get a great start on ensuring that you are doing what it takes to make sure your writing business stays healthy and growing
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Are you communicating effectively with support staff, vendors, contractors and clients?
Clear communication is an essential component of good business management. Your support assets need to have a clear understanding of your business goals and strategies and of their place in the overall structure. Your readers and publisher should trust you to give accurate information or to admit when you are uncertain. You should not have a pattern of over-promising on projects. Are you available to your support assets and publisher(s) when needed? Do you actively listen to them? Have you utilized the latest technologies to facilitate better communication?
Are you organized?
It’s difficult for a disorganized business to thrive, and sometimes, lack of organization can lead to business failure. You and your support team should have a clear conception of the structure of your business and how its systems function. Your workspace, even if it’s virtual, should be well organized with everything in its place and easy to access. Use planning apps to make sure your schedule is well organized and everyone stays on the same page. Your records should all be properly maintained and clearly labeled, whether in physical files or digital format.
Are you staying on top of your accounting and payroll?
Many writers begin their journey as a “one-person operation.” This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to follow good accounting practices. Whether you are writing articles for a e-zine, blog or content mill, or writing a novel without an advance, it’s a good idea to track business expenses and how much you are paying yourself.
As your literary business grows, you may need to track advances, payouts to support team members like publishing agents, and expenses related to researching that sci-fi novel. Trying to get your financial processes organized at this point can be overwhelming. It’s best to have your accounting structure set before you get to this level of success, here’s why…
Organization is especially important when it comes to your business’s accounting. Disorganization in the books can lead to costly errors. It helps to have an accounting professional manage your books to free up your bandwidth to run your business. Plus, having a professional accountant is likely to save you money in the long run.
Some business owners prefer to handle their own books, but if you are taking this route, you may need to learn some accounting basics first. Fortunately, with the proliferation of online learning programs, you can easily earn an accounting degree online while still running your business. Of course, there are free and paid software and apps that can help you manage the cashflows as well. A quick Google search for Excel accounting spreadsheets can get you downloadable and ready-to-fill-in forms to get you started.
It’s also crucial that you stay on top of payroll. This is easier if you have an automated payroll system to make it easier to track time and invoices, as well as calculate wages, deductions, and tax obligations — especially useful when calculations are not in your wheelhouse. It’s also easier to stay organized this way, as well as ensure that you’re maintaining accuracy in your recordkeeping.
It may seem like a bit much for a independent writer or author, but even if you are just managing payments to yourself, take the time to gain this skill. Eventually, you will need to pay consultants, cover artists, copy editors and many other support staff as your business grows.
Are you in compliance with regulations affecting your business?
If you are registered as an LLC, you should have a registered agent and an Employee Identification Number. Be sure you are aware of all tax laws governing your type of business. Maintaining organized records, as discussed above, will aid you in staying compliant. In addition to staying out of trouble, having an appropriate business registration may entitle you to tax benefits or grants. Do your research, it could really be worth the time.
Are you continuing to train and learn?
The literary market is constantly changing, and a professional writer needs to be flexible and creative to keep up with it. You and your support team will find yourselves having to learn new skills and techniques, especially as your business grows over time. Take advantage of coaching and training services to stay ahead of the game. After all, if you don’t continuously improve your intellectual ability, you will have a hard time making sure your business stays healthy and continues to grow.
Are you networking effectively?
Keep your business from stagnating by expanding your network in your community. Network among potential support staff, and with other entrepreneurs both in and outside of the literary industry. Social media is a valuable networking tool for connecting with others in the world of authorship. It’s a good idea to attend conferences and stay abreast of innovations in the market, and take advantage of training and educational resources. Joining your local chamber of commerce will allow you to network locally, and offer your company greater visibility, as well.
Don’t be afraid to get out and meet people. Search out all of the independently owned bookstores in your area and get to know the owners and managers. Visit the local libraries and introduce yourself to the head librarian. Visit the large corporate bookstores and build a relationship with the managers. These connections can be invaluable when understanding market trends and what themes are most in demand.
Having a clear sense of principles to follow in business management will help you make sure your literary business stays healthy. If you find you are lagging in any of these areas, set goals for improvement. By sticking to and following through with your goals, you can help grow your literary business and lay the groundwork for its future success.