Lessons for Writers from Business Giants

Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

What do Amazon, Apple, Walt Disney, Google, Harley Davidson, Hewlett Packard, and Yankee Candle Company have in common? Each entrepreneur launched his multibillion-dollar company from someone’s garage with nothing but knowledge and a willingness to work hard and persevere. What was it about each of these companies that set them apart from the crowd? What vital ingredients combined to grow each company’s success beyond anyone’s wildest dreams when others didn’t? Quick research into their beginnings reveals two factors that writers can apply to your own writing businesses.Author Business Cards

Yes, your writing career is your business. If you haven’t viewed it this way until now, this is your next step in career growth. Why? Because it grounds you in a balance between your writing, i.e. your product, and growing your reader following and marketability, i.e. your business.

Do you recall the day you first sat down to write? You probably began with only a dream and a little knowledge, just as these business giants did. Next, they intuited two tipping-point factors they had to master if their products were going to rise above the fray to corner the market. No one can argue with their success, so you would do well to apply what they knew to your own author business.

  1. The Quality of Your Product

These smart entrepreneurs began by getting an education in their chosen field through a college degree and/or on-the-job training plus job experience to give themselves the best chance of success in future ventures of their own. At some point they were confident they had the know-how and big-picture perspective they needed to launch their business with a cutting-edge product. This is true for authors too.

It’s why you who are committed to a career in publishing attend writers conferences to learn about the industry, attend in-person or online workshops, and/or invest in a professional critique of your manuscript to identify areas of craft you need to improve. You soak up knowledge of craft from every book on writing you can get your hands on and then practice those techniques draft after draft, manuscript after manuscript. You join a critique group in which authors, hopefully some more advanced than you are, challenge and support each other.

It’s hard work but you do it with passion because you can’t not write. Be encouraged. The time, maybe even years, you’re putting into the knowledge-gaining preparation is forward progress, just as it was for these entrepreneurs. Let their success be motivation for you whenever you begin to get impatient or feel discouraged. Keep improving your product and enjoy the journey.

The second intuition common to these business giants was, and continues to be, to produce products that customers desire and will soon need. They were forward thinking. Here is the application for writers.

  1. Your Target Readers’ Needs and Current Desires

People have evergreen needs: spiritual, material, love, health, sustenance, freedom and adventure, and security. Virtually all books written address one or more of these basic needs. But people’s desires change. If you’re dubious as to how this happens, look at the fashion industry. Our boredom with sameness is their bread and butter. World events and cultural changes affect our desires.

For example, churches are learning that millennials are slow to marry. But for years churches have structured their program offerings around families. Now, they are confronting the need to provide alternatives in order to make church attractive to this generation and the post-millennials to follow.

Something similar could be true for your readers. If you haven’t polled your audience in a few years, canvas your followers before you get too far into your next book. Times are changing fast. The assumptions you make might be out of touch with their current desires.

Here’s a suggestion. Create a survey to send to your followers. It’s very important to ask specific questions in order to get meaningful feedback. What you learn from their responses will be valuable for shaping your new book and then again when you state the hook and talking points in your proposal. To ensure a good number of responses, announce that you will enter the names of every respondent in a drawing for a nice prize.

How do you view your writing career from a business perspective? How do the lessons from these business giants encourage you in your own writing business? After reading about what they did, what do you think your next step should be?


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