Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Business Basics for Today’s Writer—Part One

For beginning writers, jumping into the publishing industry can be a daunting endeavor. It’s an ocean full of the unknown, from standard submission settings for your computer, to the protocol on the file type needed. Over the next few weeks I’m going to give you a primer on how to navigate these rough seas. One thing to remember is that NONE of us was born knowing how to do this stuff. We all had to learn, and a lot of us learned the hard way. So if you have a question, be sure you ask it so we can save you some of the heartache we experienced.

Email Basics
In today’s market, knowing how to navigate your email program is essential. So today I’m going to give you some of the basics.

Choosing an Email Address
If you’re planning to present yourself as a professional or even a serious hobbyist, please pay close attention to these tips:
Don’t share an address with someone else. Sharing an address with your spouse or family is big giveaway to potential editors and agents (freelance or book) that you’re not serious about your work.
Do not get clever with your address. HotGurl 52 or even SuperMom 27 doesn’t inspire confidence in those considering you for an assignment or book deal. Even going with a popular blog title isn't a good idea. You're going to write a lot of things over the course of your career, the one common thread will be your name.

Utilize Your Email Signature
You’ve all received emails with information after the signature. Well this is valuable real estate and you should take advantage of it. If you have a blog, add the link. Same with social media. For more information, here’s a blog post I wrote on How to Take Advantage of YourSignature Line

Check Your Email Regularly
Let me repeat. CHECK YOUR EMAIL REGULARLY! I’m always amazed by the number of people who send me an email asking a question, I answer and then it’s days before I hear back from them.

Here are some other questions I’ve gotten. They don’t really fit in a specific category so I’ll be answering a few every week.

Do I need to set up a bank account if I want to get paid for my writing?
No. At least not initially. I will tell you it’s easier to keep up with your income for taxes once you begin getting paid regularly.

Do I need to order business cards? If so, how many? And What should go on them?
You will need business cards if you’re working with clients in person for freelancing or if you’re attending a writers conference. But until that happens, there’s no need.

When you do decide to move forward with business cards, I recommend no more than 500. I’ve found I change the information on mine fairly often, so it helps not to have a huge amount of money invested. There’s not a lot you can do with left over business cards. Just a note, I actually print my own using Avery blanks I get at the office supply stores. I use Microsoft Word and print them on my inkjet printer. This helps me because I can print exactly what I need so there’s less waste.

As far as what should go on them:
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Website or Blog address
  • Current picture of yourself—at this step many people balk. But here’s why it’s important. First, it’s harder to throw away a business card with a picture on it. Second, there are a ton of writers out there and especially at a conference it’s easier for editors and agents to remember you when they can see your picture.

What not should go on them:
  • Physical address—trust me, very few in the publishing industry will need your home address. If they do mail something to you chances are you’ll first interact with them through email.  Other than that, it’s just not a good idea to give out your home address.

I hope today’s post has whetted your appetite. Please share your questions about these subjects, as well as others you’d like covered, in the comments section below.

And don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Good thoughts! We are listening...

  2. I'm really looking forward to this series of posts. Thanks for doing them. I've got a lot to learn.

  3. Jennifer & Larry, thanks for the encouragement. I wasn't totally certain people would benefit from a series like this. Blessings, E

  4. Thanks! I hadn't thought about the signature line on my email.
    Barb Winters

  5. Edie, thank you for your treasure trove for writers. I'll point writers in my group, Light of Carolina Christian Writers, to your great blog posts!

  6. Edie, you know the more I can learn from you, the better! Between you, Vonda and Nan I've learned so much over these last 3 years! Love you!

  7. Thanks Edie. I followed your advice about the email signature several months ago. You know what? I know that the email signature presents me as a professional, but it also helped me see MYSELF as a professional. I think that is part of the learning curve we're on. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Bless you!

  8. Good advice. Never thought about it, but I need to add a photo.