Writing As Investment

Dean Wesley Smith offers an interesting new perspective for writers:

An Indie Publisher Investing Plan

Step One: Set a Goal to Publish Something New Every Two Weeks.

— It could be a short story or your latest book. It could be a collection, whatever. Just put into print one new item every two weeks. (I know of very few writers who haven’t been working for a time that don’t have backlist as well to help with this. If you hate the story and think it sucks, put it under a pen name.)

— Give yourself one week to miss, so you will have 25 books, stories, collections up in one year. (Even if you miss for three full months you will have 20 books, stories, and collections up. Not bad.)

— This investment plan will also keep you writing new work.

Step Two: Consider Each Publication a Deposit into Your “Future Investment Account.”

— So instead of turning into an “Author” with every new published item, consider each new published book or story an investment in your future. Just like putting $100.00 into a 401(k) every two weeks. Think of it in the exact same way.

— Just as you ignore your 401(k) statement most months, ignore how your sales are going. Focus on the writing of the next thing.

— And if you really want to use your writing as an investment, just let the money sit in an interest-bearing account as it comes in each month from your sales. You might be stunned at how fast that will grow as you keep writing and publishing. (I know some writers are already doing this with their indie publishing accounts.)

— Take the long-term approach. Think out five and ten years, not two weeks. (I know, impossible for beginning writers to do, but again, you are investing in your future. It’s all an attitude.)

I like the idea of thinking of my writing output as an investment account. It provides an incentive to write more and to spend more time polishing what I’ve written. This approach reminds me of advice I’ve heard given to salespeople: Rather than think of cold-calling as a chore, think of it as a source of earnings. If it takes on average 20 cold calls to produce one sale, and each sale produces an average of $500 commission, then each cold call is worth $25. The thinking goes that, if the salesperson approaches a cold call with the thought that it will earn $25, cold calling becomes less of a chore.

I’m not a salesman by trade and I think I would hate having to make cold calls each day, but I like the thinking behind this. I am a writer, however, and there’s nothing stopping me from adopting Smith’s attitude toward writing production today.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of this approach.

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