Happy Saturday and howdy!
Today, I want to talk briefly about the writer’s team.
Writing, when we all start out, can be a pretty isolated activity. But just like raising children, we hopefully learn quickly that it does indeed take a village. So in thinking about my writing as a Story Factory, what kind of team do I need?
Quality Assurance: When we’re starting out, our QA team is largely going to be writer’s groups, workshops or first readers depending on what suits you best. These are the folks who assure the quality of your story, lending their insight as readers and writers to help you do your best work. As we progress, our editors, copyeditors and agents become a part of that QA process as well.
Finance: At first, this wasn’t as important because there were no finances to speak of. But eventually, tracking revenue and expenses, preparing tax returns and budgeting became necessary. If you know you’re terrible at these things (and a lot of writers I know really are) then you’ll want a team to help you. In my case, my wife handles tracking revenues and expenses (which sometimes means a box where all of the check stubs and receipts go until tax season is upon us) and I have a tax accountant who specializes in tax preparation for writers (if you need such a thing, email me and I will refer you to him.) Because I am terrible at this sort of thing, it’s crucial to have these team members — doing it myself would pull me away from the parts I’m best at — writing and promoting myself and my writing.
Research: Initially, research for me was about being out in the world finding new story ideas. But once I started the Psalms of Isaak and once there were multiple volumes it became apparent that there were vast details buried in the earlier versions that I needed access to while drafting future volumes. But the good news is that as those books went out into the world and my readership began to grow, people rose up within that crowd who loved the books and wanted to help. So I have my Gypsy Research Scout, Tracy, a fan who has become a great friend and who happily digs back into the previous volumes to find the bits of detail I can’t remember. Sure, I could take the time to go digging — and sometimes I do — but I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have someone with a keen eye and a big heart.
Marketing: Again, in the beginning it’s just the writer doing this. Identifying markets, meeting editors, submitting work for publication. For me, eventually, this involved a publicist (Tor has them on staff) identifying and arranging opportunities to promote me and my writing.
Event Support: I didn’t need this as much in the beginning, but the busier I get and the more in-demand I am, I’ve found it exceedingly useful to have a “handler” of sorts who is with me at events making sure I get where I need to go when I need to go there, stay hydrated, stay fed, etc. Not all writers need this, but for me, once I’m exhausted and frantically racing around a convention, having someone along who is more focused and centered has been really helpful and between Jen and my myriad of friends, I’m usually able to find someone who’s happy to come along and help me stay on task and on time.
And since many of the members of a writer’s team are volunteers — usually folks who love that writer — it’s important to take good care of them. I try to be generous about that, covering their costs if they’re attending an event with me, giving them ARCs or other copies of my books ahead of the rest of the world as a way of saying “Thank you,” and (if they are also writers) trying to help them with their own careers at whatever point they happen to be in.
So what about you? What team to you have now? How are you letting others help you build your Writerly Empire?