Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 18, 2014

The Learning Curve

I spent a very enjoyable few hours talking with a new writer a couple of weeks ago. A recently retired teacher, she wanted to focus her new-found free time on her writing. However, she had very little knowledge about the business side of things, and wanted a primer about the landscape of publishing today.

I always like to chat with other writers, and her questions made it clear to me that I had learned quite a bit about the business side of publishing over the years. It surprises me, how much I have learned, really, because it happened as a slow accretion over time. I didn’t take a course, I just listened to people farther up the mountain than me and read a whole lot of blogs written by people respected in the publishing sphere.

People have said that I am a “resource” and sometimes treat me like I have some special talent or something because I know all of this. I suppose I am a resource, and I enjoy sharing what I know with other writers. But there isn’t anything special about my knowledge. Any writer can accumulate the same knowledge. It’s a matter of paying attention and immersing yourself in the information available.

When I first started learning all of this, I’ll admit to feeling completely overwhelmed. There was so much to learn about the publishing business! And it changes so fast! It’s hard to keep up. But after about 3 years of reading 40 blogs or more a week (I often collate the weekly Top Picks Thursday blog post for Author Chronicles), I found I knew stuff. Certain information had taken root, and I had built upon it over the years.

Learning the business side of authorship is not negotiable in our era. Whether using self-publishing, traditional publishing, or a hybrid model, authors have more responsibility for their careers than at any other time in history. If you want to find success, get smart. Knowledge is power, and it gives you options.

It is a lot of work, especially at first, to gain the knowledge you need. There are many blogs that have weekly compilations of links to business and craft articles—our Top Picks Thursday is just one. Find and follow round-ups you like, and then individual blogs that have solid business information. Read. Read. Read. At first most will fall right out of your head again. But slowly it will stick, and accrete, and grow.

And one day, you, too, will be a “resource.”

More importantly, it will put you in the best possible position to make your career a success.

What blogs do you follow for great business advice?

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