East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Doing business the punk way

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While I like the metaphor of the writer as liar and cheat, as stage magician and cat burglar, there is no denying that, as a writer, I am a business. I am a one-man company that builds stories, and then sells them. Sometimes I sell to publishers, that (hopefully) will take care of the marketing and distribution of my work, sometimes I am a self-publisher, meaning that “my company” has to handle most of the aspects of distribution and marketing of the specific products. In both cases I need to be able to keep my company going. Build more stories, develop my brand and expand my reach, find new clients.
Not necessarily the part that I like of being a writer.

For this reason I am reading Caroline Moore’s Punk Rock Entrepreneur, a small but meaty book I got via one of the latest Humble Bundles. Moore is a photographer and a graphic artist with a long experience in the indie music scene, and her observations about running a business without losing your values, as the subtitle says, are based on real life experiences.

Granted, I am not a photographer or a graphic artist, I am not a musician or a band, I do not run events or organize concerts, but this is what makes this book interesting: there’s a lot of books about the business and marketing side of things that are especially designed for writers, and everybody in the field got them. This means we are all dancing to the same music.
I want it different.
Here, in this non-specific but fun booklet, I am finding ideas that come from different fields, and that require work to be adapted, but they are new, different and rarely tried before in this field. Moreover, by revising and adapting these ideas, I am setting my brain in motion. That’s always a good thing.
I’ve already mentioned, I think, my belief in the value of cross-training, and this is just that.

And one can stumble on ideas that are quite relevant to a writer just as they are, out of the box…

One of the benefits to producing a lot of work is practice. If you’re playing guitar for four different bands, you’re getting a lot of practice time on that instrument. And when you work on personal projects that aren’t necessarily for any particular client, you have a lot of room for experimentation. When I just draw whatever I like, I get to try different styles and techniques that I might not otherwise have time to mess around with. Some of my attempts turn out terribly (occasionally experiments fail), and sometimes they end up being another trick that I add to my repertoire. Because I produce a lot of work and spend so much time with it, I get to try a lot of things. Doing the work is the only real way to find your own style.
Of course, there is something to be said for focusing on one project, although being focused and being prolific aren’t mutually exclusive.

Spot on – excellent writing advice.

Exactly because I do not like the entrepreneurship side of my job, and because I value my values, reading a book like Moore’s just what I need: it’s a good book, it’s a pleasant read, intelligent and fun, and it makes learning about these things I don’t necessarily like, quite pleasant.

And then, I can always learn something useful.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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