On Writing,  publishing,  workshops

Business and Writing

Business and Writing…

We offer a business workshop online at WMG Publishing. It’s for writers who want to actually handle their writing business correctly and know where to find the right advice to make money with their writing.

And more importantly, the workshop helps writers know what is even possible in the business of writing.

It has always been stunning to me how writers flat don’t want to learn business.  And when I noticed that the December business online workshop had no one signed up, (zip, zero, zilch) I just laughed. I knew that workshop would soon be dead when we first did it.

Why did I know that? Because very few writers want to actually understand business.

The only worse class I can think of teaching would be a copyright class. Writers really, really, really don’t want to learn copyright. But both Kris and I thought a no-holds barred business class would be worth the try.

Like many of our classes, the business workshop is an awareness workshop. Most writers aren’t even aware of most things we talk about in this workshop.

Yet these same writers will spend days, months, weeks, learning how to promote a book, then when money starts coming in the writer handles the money so poorly that the writer ends up giving more than half of it away.

And the writer will never understand that they can do other things with that money to help their writing and their communities.

But why learn how to keep your money, spend your money in ways that will benefit your writing instead of hurt your writing? Nope, too much trouble.

However, when you get with long-term writers who know business, most of the conversations are about business. Not promotion, not writing, not craft, but business.

The reason? Because long-term writers are the ones who have come to understand that knowing business is the only way to actually make it in publishing.

For most of us long term writers, we have made business fun. We have turned it into a big game. We follow the rules. We know the rules of business, understand the rules and how to use them. The game is in the use of the rules.

Like the rule of material participation with accounts receivable in a corporation. Great fun.

So even if you don’t decide to take a workshop from WMG Publishing, go start learning business. It will make you far more money in the long run than any promotion will now.

Just understanding the concept of cash streams alone will make you a ton.

And careful on where you get advice. For example, if you have an accountant who is telling you to get an LLC for your writing business, run, do not walk from that idiocy. Both you and your accountant do not understand the structure and lack of value of an LLC for a writing business.

Just saying.

And if you have no idea what I even said about material participation, cash streams, and LLC, oh, oh…

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  • Marsha

    I took this business workshop and oh my, what an eye opener! There are many, many ways to screw up. Writing and publishing are two very separate businesses requiring totally different skill sets.If you want to succeed as an indie writer you need to learn both sides of the process. Just sayin’.

  • Bonnie

    I wonder how many of the people who are really serious about the writing business just go to the coast? There’s so much to learn that it really does the whole time and it still feels like we were running through some of the topics!

    And it was great to connect with other writers to learn what works for them and what they have discovered and how they have leveraged those discoveries. Great in person workshop! Having said that, if that wasn’t there… well I’d have been in the online class sooner or later-

  • David Anthony Brown

    The business workshop was an eye opener, and definitely an awareness workshop. Mostly I learned what I need to learn next. So many ways to make bad decisions without even being aware of it. For me, the workshop was worth the time and money.

  • Denise Gaskins

    So, is this post a warning that the workshop will disappear (“soon be dead”)? Or just a kick in the pants for those of us who have good intentions but keep putting things off?

    I was hoping to take the Business workshop next year, when I had saved up some money, but if it’s going to disappear, I’ll jump in now.

    • dwsmith

      Workshop is not going anywhere. But most of the time it will be dead from our side with no one signing up. (grin)

  • Cynthia Lee

    I’m trying to learn business but it’s slow-going and it’s very hard. It’s not impossible – just hard. I’m a mostly recovered English major so learning business for me is like learning how to walk again. It’s entirely possible that learning business requires the use of parts of my brain that have never been used before.

    So it may take awhile.

    I think the trick is to never give up.

    So I’m never gonna give up.

  • Kristi N.

    I am one who will be taking this in December. I\’ve already had the discussion with my CPA about business expenses, and he disqualified any workshops that weren\’t from an \’accredited\’ institution. (Rolls eyes.). There is so much that I don\’t know that I don\’t know–I\’ve made a start, but this workshop is definitely up next, if only to give me a road map of where to find out more.

      • Kristi N.

        That\’s what I was afraid of, Dean. I know I don\’t have a lot of deductible expenses personally because of my current living arrangement, but when he started discarding legitimate business expenses, I got that sinking feeling. (Adds another item to the business to-do list…)

  • Julie

    Just wondering to what extent this is a US-focused course. I just looked up “material participation” and it seems to be a US tax thing, an LLC is a category of US business… but cash streams are cash streams anywhere…

    How applicable would this course be for UK writers, would you say, Dean?

    • dwsmith

      It has value overseas and I do try to take into account outside the US writers. And yes, the LLC is an American stupidity, correct for some things, horrid for writing. Material participation is just called other things in other countries. So yes, worth it for general business.

  • Peggy

    Hi, Dean.

    I have a question about self-publishing older work. Would you have any concerns about publishing stories that don’t include cellphones, etc? Do you think they should be updated, or is there a market for stories like this “as-is”? (In an earlier post you mentioned a golf thriller you included in Smith’s Monthly. Was that published in its original form [minus the love scenes]?)


    • dwsmith

      Yup, original form, as was my first novel published in 1989 (written in 1987) now published in original form in Issue #36 of Smith’s Monthly. My suggestion, just leave stories alone. If you feel odd about something, put in the copyright page “First published in 1997” or some such thing to tell the readers it is an older story. Not worth your time going back.

  • Sean Monaghan

    This has been a ‘slowly-dawning’ thing for me. As in watching my indie sales numbers remain stagnant over the years, while my writing improves and my sales to magazines become more frequent: I’m gradually realizing that I need to improve my business skills. I took the Essentials workshop a couple of years back, which improved a whole lot of things for me. I’m also looking at a local course for small business owners which might be useful (though a lot of it seems to be around working toward a qualification so might be less practical – 36 weeks, including 12 full days, and 3hrs/week online tutoring… WIBBOW?).

    Anyway, blah, blah, blah, poor me. I’ve signed up for December and sent payment. It means I’ll be crossing over the end of a November workshop with the start of this in December. Worth it for the kick in the pants. (Assuming it hasn’t filled already – after this post that wouldn’t surprise me).

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • dwsmith

      Sean, got you on the list just fine. Crossover won’t be bad at all. And yup, this will get you headed forward.

      As for a local course, the key is who is teaching it. But wow, 36 weeks? Yikes.

    • Teri Babcock

      Hi Sean-
      FWIW, I wouldn’t bother with that 36-week course. I wager there will be a ton of stuff that applies to your situation not at all, including a lot of book-keeping/accounting info that will probably be more complex than you need now… or ever.
      But i *would* ask the course instructor if i can hire them for a 2-hr session to pick their brain about my specific situation, and any questions I have after finishing Dean’s business course.

  • Isabo Kelly

    Just finishing up this workshop and it’s been brilliant! Extremely valuable awareness workshop. And added a lot of fun things to learn to my To Do list *grin* I’d highly recommend it to anyone thinking of taking it.

    Thanks for doing it, Dean! Really invaluable.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks! Actually have fun doing that workshop each time because of the great questions people have that keep me learning as well.

  • J. D. Brink

    I’d love to take this class someday, but I feel like in my current life situation, I’ve been pushed back about two steps on my road to professional writing independence. I’m barely making time to write right now, which I think has to come first. (Plus, I’m selling less than last year, though somehow looking like I might make a net profit instead of a loss for the first time — maybe because I haven’t had time to spend money?)
    Someday I’ll be back to where I think I’ll have my own business again. For now, my slavery to the Man is overwhelming.

    • dwsmith

      In a way, yes, and you also get the lecture. And if you have already gotten it, you get your pick of another in its place.

      • Denise

        That’s an interesting proposition. So I could start with the Organization lecture now and begin putting those tips into practice while I keep saving for the full Business course. And then I’d get to pick a different lecture later when I buy the course?