“Do you consider writing to be a Hobby alone? Or do you intend to build a business around it”
This is a question I often ask people who approach me with the idea of writing and self-publishing a book. Mostly young people who are new to the industry and do not have a lot of information about how to go about the Self-Publishing process. So I thought I’d write about it here since I was recently approached by a young woman who’s writing her first novel (yayy her!). The core of the question is this: What goals do you have for this book? Is it the first of many or something you just want to try and see where it takes you? Do you plan to become an author with websites and blogs and networks or is this just something you want to put out to see your name in print? Do you plan to publish Traditionally or Self-Publish?
It benefits to weigh the pros and cons of self-publishing and traditional publishing. Even though I’m a Self-Publisher, by looking into TP (the unofficial abbreviation for Traditional Publishing), I’ve learned a lot in my career. I’ve learned how to be better organized for example. I have always said myself: “if you don’t think you can put in the work necessary for self-publishing, it may be a good idea not to.” But I have learned too that everyone does not have this option, though they have this option. For most people, the option to publish traditionally flies out the window at the thought that it will never happen because it’s based on the approval of someone outside of themselves and it is therefore no guarantee. But as a result, they blindly plunge into this ever growing sea of books and fall into the category of a Hobbyist Writer.
What is a Hobbyist Writer? Something I made up. But, more specifically, a Hobbyist Writer is someone who’s infatuated with the idea of publishing. There is no specific goal or reasoning behind publishing the book except to see what it’s like to hold its preciousness between your fingers and bask in the awe of what you’ve done. The internet has made it easy to publish almost anything. Thus, there are waves of new authors out there who write specifically to publish their work and to see it in print. I think this is great. On the other hand, if you plan to get more serious and organized, to simply write books and publish them without vision, or direction does nothing for your writing career. So know what you want and the requirements to obtain it. Writing a book doesn’t have to mean you want to publish it and publishing a book doesn’t mean you want to sell it. Thanks to today’s technology, we have these options. You can sell a book or you can just give it away for free. So I would definitely say to clearly define your goals before stepping out. A goal is a desired result that a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve and in my opinion does tend to change over time.
Personally, I publish often, at least once a year (with the exception of this year, where I plan to publish three books as part of a short story series) because I like writing and I think the best way to polish any skill is to do it often. And I do hope that the more I engage in the process, the better at it I’ll become and the more people I’ll reach. What I enjoy most is that with each book I learn something new, and I am able to add that to my stored chamber of experience. Though I write a lot, I do not consider myself a Hobbyist Writer because the desired result, the end game if you will, is to build something greater than a sea of published books. There’s a lot I want to do eventually that go beyond writing my own books. At the same time, I like to keep everything organized and this is when the business me kicks in. I believe that everything you do, whether you get paid or not, should be done with some level of professionalism. So if you’re going to write a book, it should have some level of significance even if it’s just a hobby. If nothing else, I have learned that if you don’t place value on your work, no one will. And that’s why established and clearly set goals are important; it adds value to the work. Whether that work comprises something you just want to try or something you want to build on.