Are you a writer or a business?

"I'm a full-time writer," is a statement that makes us very proud, but if you're going to succeed it can't be strictly true.

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Anyone who's made the decision to become an independent author knows it means running a business to publish and support your writing, so why is this a difficult question? Well it comes down to mindset, and it can be sneaky. A great many self-published authors, some of whom are fantastic writers, have never found any measure of success because they've written a book, published it on Amazon and moved on to their next book. "If you build it, they will come," has never been true, and it certainly isn't true for authors.

Most people won't understand what you really mean when you tell them you're going to be an independent author. When I started telling my family and friends my plans, I got a whole range of responses. Some asked repeatedly how I'd get 'properly published', some were curious as to how I'd actually build an ebook, and my mother just worried that I wouldn't be able to eat.

I think there's still an imagined view of novelists as wiry scruffs who sit in their attics, typing away at a 1940s typewriter all night as they smoke their way through three hundred cigarettes, publish one book every three years and somehow make enough to live on.

Live the reality

The reality is harder than that, but it's also better. If you've got the right mindset about your writing business, then the quality of life can be excellent. After all, you can spend your life writing for a living, and that's frankly amazing. Compared to freelancing you spend less time emailing clients, holding meetings and chasing payments. You still have to market and administer your business, but a lot of that busywork can be smartly automated, leaving you more time to make creative decisions (something that AI will always rather struggle with).

The bottom line is this: most of us don't have the creative energy to write all day. There's some limit, somewhere, for everyone who's not on mind-altering substances. So finding your limit and switching to less creative, but equally important business tasks can work really well.

If you take my normal day, for example:

At least four hours is spent on the marketing and running of the business every day. Often the admin chunk doesn't need to be as long, so I do more marketing, and yet I still find that it's the marketing that needs more time. But I've found that this set up works well for me. Four hours of fiction writing is about all my brain can take before needing to recharge. By the time I get to mid-afternoon, I tackle non-fiction writing, which is equally important but requires a slightly different set of brain-muscles.

The bottom line is this: as an independent author, you are the business. It doesn't end up mattering what other people think you do as long as you're comfortable with the reality of being both a writer and a publishing business. The people who tend to fail to get the results they dream of are the ones who aren't willing to fully engage with the business side. There are always things to learn, experiments to run and fans to tantalise. Luckily, if you're here reading this, you've already proved you're someone who takes the business seriously.

So let's get going! These books won't sell themselves.