02/27/2014 10:15 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Writing Is My Business, But So Is Business

My father had a small business that I thought imprisoned him, and as a kid, I swore I would never "do retail" as I thought of it.

Boy, was I wrong. As an author, I wound up owning my own small business and it's as vulnerable to competition and the vagaries of the market place as any physical store. Sometimes it's just as exhausting.

From the beginning of my book publishing career in 1990, I was deeply involved in pushing my work, contacting venues for readings, investing in posters and postcards, writing my own press releases when I thought my publisher hadn't done a good job, and constantly faxing or mailing strangers around the country about my latest book.


Then came the Internet and everything shifted to email. Add a website that needs constant updating, Twitter and Facebook, keeping a presence on various listservs, blogging, blog tours, producing book trailers, updating ebooks in various ways, and the constant reaching out to strangers in the hope of enlarging my platform and increasing sales. It was constant. It is constant.


And so is the advice offered by consultants. I'm deluged by offers to help me increase my sales and drive more people to my web site. They come on a daily basis and when they tout success stories, I sometimes feels as if I'm trapped on a low-performing TV show while everyone else on the schedule is getting great Nielson ratings.

Going independent for a few books after I published with big and small houses for a while made me feel more in control, but that control also meant much more work on promotion and less time to write. My 25th was recently published by a superb university press and I was relieved to not be in charge, just consulted about production so that I could spend my time on promotion.

The burden of business does sometimes make writing itself harder to do, and sometimes it can even feel pointless because you're not sure of the results. But the reality will never change: if you're a writer, you're also a small business owner. You need to find your unique way to have fun doing business, to enjoy it as much as you enjoy writing, in whatever way you can, as often as you can. If you do, writing itself will be easier and more enjoyable.


Lev Raphael's 25th book is the novel of suspense Assault With a Deadly Lie. You can check out his other books on Amazon here.