Publishing Career Like a Business!

- November 24, 2021 - 5 min. read

Publishing Career Like a Business!

Thinking about your publishing career? Right brain vs. Left Brain? Creative artist vs. savvy businessperson? Often these “personality types” are seen as opposites, aren’t they?

If you’re a writer, you likely lean toward the creative side of things. You know you should be paying attention to the business side, the marketing of your work, making sure the world knows what you’re publishing.

But perhaps, even secretly, you find yourself saying, “I’m a free spirit, an artist. I don’t want to get bogged down in all that business and marketing stuff.” Publishing career can be confusing.

And that’s true. We all need to be careful that we don’t get bogged down with the business side of our publishing careers. After all, the creative work we do is the most important part of our career. Without it, we have nothing left to market.

But there’s a big difference between avoiding being swamped with the challenge of a publishing business, and ignoring it altogether.

Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to running your publishing career.

Don’t Hide From The Truth: It’s a Business

I love the creative side of writing. Most of my fiction is set in ancient cultures like Greece and Rome, and I can let myself get lost in research, and then in the storytelling process itself, trying to create a story that is exciting, intriguing, and ultimately touches people’s hearts.

I wish the creation process could end when I type “The End.”

But it can’t. For one simple reason: Storytelling requires an audience.

Whether you’re in it for the money or for the pure joy of it, you need to sell books. Because being a communicator means there is someone on the other side of your words, taking them in.

Get comfortable with this fact. The writing of books might be purely creative, but the selling of books is a business, and it’s a necessary one.

Don’t Try To Do Everything

Perhaps you’re not running the other direction at the idea of marketing your books. Instead, you’re reading every blog, listening to every guru, researching the next great marketing idea.

And you’re going to do them all, because that’s what it takes, right?


Plenty of studies show that the most frequent outcome of trying to do everything is actually getting less done.

Pick and choose marketing ideas like you choose foods from a restaurant buffet. You can’t do it all, so what looks the yummiest to you?

Yes, I just used “yummy” to describe marketing ideas. There are some marketing efforts that don’t even feel like effort because they fit us so well. Choose those!

Don’t Get Paralyzed

This one’s my default, I have to admit. Faced with a huge buffet of choices, I spin out with more planning, more research, more stalling. In my desire to pursue all the “right” ideas, I end up doing too little. Or nothing!

Just like overworking to get everything done results in less productivity, overplanning to make all the right choices leads us to paralysis, where we can’t move forward because we’re afraid of making mistakes.

Push past this inclination. Choose a few simple things that seem most important, like getting a great cover made or deciding on a single social media platform to use. Once you’ve chosen your yummy marketing efforts, just start!

Do Get Organized

A little organization goes a long way toward helping you run your business more profitably.

Perhaps you’re using some paid promotion sites for your books.

Track when you’ve applied, which promos you’ve run, and what the results looked like, to help you better plan future promotion. You don’t need to go overboard—a simple spreadsheet or even a document is probably enough, along with some reminders set up for your next promotions.

Do some basic tracking on your income and expenses. Again, if this business-stuff isn’t your thing, don’t overthink it! Something as simple as a list in a document can work. Of course, taking one little step into a spreadsheet can make the math much easier!

Just don’t let yourself get overwhelmed and end up not tracking anything at all.

Do Treat Your Book Covers As Assets!

Keep your “assets” organized, too. Make sure your most-recent versions of manuscripts are clearly marked, and you have all the formats of your books and their covers organized.

But remember, your book covers are important assets, too. You’ve worked hard to create an amazing book. Don’t let the cover imply anything less!

Last year I acquired the rights for my backlist from my traditional publisher, and I’ve been using book cover designer Alexander von Ness to do a cover refresh on them. While the covers have breathed new life into these older books, keeping all the eBook and paper versions organized can be a challenge.

Alexander’s Book Cover Download Dashboard, created for his author clients, is something I’ve never seen another designer put together for clients!

Alexander provides you with a login and password, and there you’ll see all the covers he’s designed for you! All ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audio cover versions if you’ve got them, all ready for you to download whenever you need them.


His Book Cover Download Dashboard is my go-to place, to grab whatever cover I need for uploading, promotion, etc.

If I need him to make a little tweak to a cover for some reason, I always know the latest version is there on my Dashboard.

And since I tend to accumulate smaller thumbnails and lower-resolution versions on my hard drive, I love knowing exactly where to go, to get the hi-res version.

Using the same designer across your catalog is a great idea, because he or she begins to “get” you and your needs, but having Alexander’s Book Cover Download Dashboard takes it to a whole new level! It’s an amazing help in my publishing career.

Do Make Sure You Carve Out Time to Run Your Business

You don’t have to make marketing or bookkeeping or tracking your efforts your primary focus. But make sure you’re carving out at least a little time for it—maybe daily, maybe weekly—and treating it like the business it is. Think of it like the way you manage your home. Remember, your publishing career is a business.

Paying the bills and vacuuming the carpet aren’t the main focus of your family life, but they are necessary. Avoiding them is dangerous! If you’re able to hire an assistant (or even get a spouse or kid) to do some of the stuff you don’t enjoy, great. But sometimes, we just need to push through and do the hard stuff.

For all the creative free spirits out there, embrace who you are! Don’t get overwhelmed, distracted, or paralyzed by the business side. A little effort will go a long way!

If you liked this article you might also like:
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• Self-Publishing Success Stories. Secrets of Million Dollar Self-Publishers!
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• Business Plan for Authors. Do Authors Need a Business Plan?
• Creative Book Marketing Ideas for Selling Your Books!

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Tracy Higley is a bestselling author of twenty-one novels and successful entrepreneur and business owner. She started writing her first story at the age of eight, including the acclaimed Seven Wonders Series. She earned a Master’s Degree in Ancient History, and has traveled to Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Italy, and Turkey, researching her books and falling into adventures.