#Passion2Profession: Learn It to Earn It

Last week K. Bromberg blogged about a project she did to give a boost to new authors (click here to read it). When she started fielding questions from the authors she was promoting, she was shocked to find how many of them didn’t know the most basic things they needed to do. It struck home for a lot of us who are veterans and much of what she talked about I’ve been seeing as well, and it’s why I started this series.

Unlike several years ago when the Indie advice mantra was, “get a professional cover,” today’s new authors seem to have at least the cover portion down to a science. The level of polish in visual marketing materials is impressive, to the point that I’d guess a lot of people are wasting valuable money on the diminishing returns of custom photo shoots and the highest-priced boutique cover artists.

But there are a lot of authors who are still struggling with the rest of the job. I’ve seen them cropping up in forums with no knowledge of what KU is, confused about the difference between Facebook and AMS ads, and not a clue as to where to find a qualified editor. This is why I created #Passion2Profession because, at some point between learning about KU and understanding how to compare it to wide distribution, you move from being a hobbyist to being a professional Indie author. And the rest of us appreciate you more when you’re able to make that shift.

There isn’t a profession in the world at which you can be successful without understanding the broader industry around it. You can’t be the receptionist for a doctor’s office if you don’t know how doctor’s offices organize their staff and which medical insurance includes your boss as a provider. No job is isolated from the broader environment in which it operates, and new writers IT’S INCUMBENT ON YOU TO LEARN.

Yes, dears, you absolutely positively must learn about the world of publishing, and not just the fun parts where you pick hot cover models and get your name in big letters on the front of a book. You have to learn about drip campaigns, setting up ad audiences, keywords, BISAC categories, Vellum, Scrivener, newsletters, which categories the NYT recently cut on the weekly list, the new romance streaming service Passionflix, what NINC is, the requirements for becoming PAN in RWA, and what the Big Five publishers are excited about this year.

Yes, all of that, plus a ton more. And if you think some of those items will never apply to you as an Indie writer, well, you’re wrong. Because it’s all part of the industry–YOUR industry. It’s a complicated place, and changes rapidly. No one is saying it’s easy to learn, but it is essential. There are still things I don’t understand, and probably never will, but I keep working, researching, reading, asking questions, and all of us have to. Every day, month after month, year after year. No one expects you to know it all, but you need to know enough that we can tell you’re a professional.

Bottom line? If you want to move from #Passion2Profession, then learn not only your craft, learn your industry. I’d love to put together a list of great resources for authors ready to make the leap from hobby to profession–workshops, books, blog posts–email your suggestions to me at: author@selenalaurence.com and I’ll enter you to win this super cute Erin Condren writing journal!

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