Firstly, apologies to those of you who are regulars to the blog for my absence … September was a pretty crazy month, culminating in the Budapest Marathon on Sunday, which I’m very proud to say, I finished, in a pretty respectable time of 4 hrs, 28 minutes. Thanks so much to everybody who sponsored me, all the money went to Cancer Research UK.
On my way back from work today I was listening to Radio 4 … not necessarily something I’d admit too often, but a debate about entrepreneurship caught my attention. As the guests – including the head of Google UK – discussed how to become a successful entrepreneur, I began to realise how similar life as an aspiring author must be to life as a fledgling entrepreneur.
Suddenly the advice the experts were offering wasn’t just entertaining background noise, but pertinent to my ideal career. Because as a writer you’re self-employed … a freelancer … a creative thinker … a gambler of sorts. And the same tips someone selling a new invention or service might benefit to, can also help someone promoting a story.
The first tip the experts agreed on was confidence. Self-belief. You need to be a gambler, and one who sees the gain over the risk. The more positive your approach, the more positive the feedback. You don’t get something for nothing, so whatever your area of expertise, you need to put in the effort, and not worry about the pitfalls along the way. Reach for the stars, and try not to worry about all the space in between!!!
Next of all, rather pertinently, the experts talked about using the internet as a cheap and relatively painless way of testing your product. The analogy they used was setting up a website as opposed to going the whole hog and renting a shop, only to find there wasn’t a market for your product. In a writing sense, testing the water could be posting excerpts of a story on a blog as opposed to going the whole hog and paying to publish your own book, only to discover the story wasn’t quite right. Blogs are an awesome way of finding out if something works, or if it doesn’t … And if it doesn’t, they’re a great forum for development and debate!
The entrepreneurs talked about investors … including business angels. Friends and family willing to invest in your idea before you have the financial weight to approach banks. Angels don’t just exist in business. When it comes to writing, friends and family are your first line of support. The litmus test. A biased bunch of readers who can ease you into a world of criticism until your writing has enough weight to gather criticism from strangers.
The final piece of advice which stood out in my mind was ‘knowing your product’. Understanding what works, and fine-tuning it so that it’s the best ‘form’ of your product. A woman who owned a company which specialised in hotel bathroom supplies talked about recognising her most profitable market, and tailoring her business plan to that market. How she had changed a company which supplied every kind of hotel into one which specialised in luxury hotels … Likewise, as a writer, it’s key to know your strengths, and understand what genre and readership your writing style best suits. Identify your writing strengths, and hone them.
Know your product … Know your writing … and SELL it 🙂
I know I’ll definitely be watching the Apprentice more keenly in future 😉