Skip to main content

What You Can Do Now to Master the Business of Writing

Even without knowing you (yes, you! hello there), I can say that we put together the “Master the Business of Writing” package for the February 2016 Writer’s Digest with you in mind. Because whether you’re an aspiring author, a midlist novelist or a freelancer looking for bigger paychecks, this issue will meet you where you are and help you get to the next level.

Master the Business of Writing

Writing Partners, Business Partners

I’ve come to believe that part of what makes the writing community so essential is not just our desire but our need to learn from one another. When you’re struggling through a manuscript, you never know what a fellow writer might say—whether at the podium of a conference room, in an article in Writer’s Digest, a casual conversation over coffee or even a tweet—that might help things click.

Ultimately, though, the words on the page are up to you. But when you come to a pivotal point on the business side of writing—whether choosing a self-publishing platform, launching a website, promoting a book or filing your taxes as a freelancer for the first time? That is when you need help most of all.

And yet, as with words on the page, at the end of the day, it’s still up to you. The problem is that when it comes to the business side, so many of us go cold. We don’t want to learn the nuances of a digital platform or the implications of contract language or the how-tos of bookkeeping software. We just want to write.

In the spirit of the community I mentioned earlier, when we’re lucky enough to talk with a writer who really knows his stuff, we’d better take notice. It’s been a few months since my conversation with genre-bender (and former lawyer) David Baldacci for our November/December WD Interview, but one of the most poignant things he said has stayed with me. And it’s not about writing. It’s what he said when I asked him to share his best advice about publishing.

“No one on earth is going to care more about your career than you. Not your agent, not your publisher, not friends in the industry. At the end of the day, you need to take responsibility for your career. And I know it’s hard when you’ve got your first book and you’re so excited that you’re like, ‘I’ll let other people take care of the royalties and all that—I’m just so excited, there’s my book on the shelf!’ But at the end of the day, everything matters.”

Taking Care of Business

We took those words to heart in compiling the February 2016 Writer’s Digest. The articles here are designed to help you take control. Knowledge, as they say, is power. Here’s a preview of what’s inside:

  • In Phil Sexton’s “Publishing, Decoded,” you’ll learn 9 essential questions every author should ask her publisher. This article in particular is generating a lot of buzz:

    (For more great food for thought from Phil, check out his blog post on “The Persistence of the Author Brand.”)
  • “Freelancing for Fun, Promo & Profit” by novelist, freelancer and all-around nice guy Jeff Somers shows you strategies to support your core writing (even if it’s fiction) with the kinds of bylines that can build your platform.
  • “Manage Your Money Flow” by The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money author Ilise Benun tackles the dreaded “M” word, and simplifies the tracking of freelance and book royalty earnings.
  • "Your Guide to a Worry-Free Writing Business” (featuring Bonnie Lee of Taxpertise, alongside other experts) answers your tax and legal questions (just in time to prep for April 15).

It doesn’t have to be a scary thing that “everything matters.” In fact, it can be a great thing. Trust yourself. You’ve got this. And we at WD are here to help.

You can preview the full contents of the February 2016 Writer’s Digest Master the Business of Writing issue here. Look for it on your favorite local newsstand, order a copy from the Writer’s Digest Shop today, or download it instantly right now.

Yours in writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest magazine (Subscribe today, so you never miss an issue!)
Follow me on Twitter @jessicastrawser

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, one character blackmails another.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts From 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Get all 30 poetry prompts from the 15th annual November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge here. Actually, 35 prompts if you're counting Two-for-Tuesday prompts!

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

Many people are self-professed "stalkers" on social media, whether they're following life events of friends or celebrities. But writers can learn quite a bit on social media by stalking publishing professionals too, and this post covers the appropriate way to do so.


Samantha Vérant: On Romance and Recipes

Author Samantha Vérant discusses how her writing process changed while writing her new contemporary romance novel, The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 633

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a warm up poem.

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Every so often writers ask if they should pitch different to agents vs. editors. This post answers that question and provides some extra help on how to successfully pitch both.

Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, feature an urban legend in your story.

Grose, 12:6

Jessica Grose: On the Unsustainability of Parenting

Opinion writer and author Jessica Grose discusses the complicated subject of modern motherhood in her new nonfiction book, Screaming on the Inside.

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Award-winning novelist Elizabeth Shick discusses the complete rewrite she devoted to her debut novel, The Golden Land.