Be a Savvy Writer - Go Where the Business Is

by Marg McAlister


If you're a writer, you're in business. It doesn't matter whether you're writing picture books, or a self-help book for underachievers, or promotional material and flyers for anyone who wants it... YOU'RE IN BUSINESS.

Therefore, it makes sense to go where the business contacts are. I know, I know - it's tempting to just sit at home in front of the keyboard. No chance of getting rejected that way (at least not face to face!) But - don't do it. Get out there and meet people - you never know which contact might come in handy. Here are a few suggestions:


  • Librarians (what are people reading? Which books don't stay on the shelves? Visit regularly and stay abreast of the trends) Bookstore owners and managers (ditto). Bookstore employees and managers can also give you a good idea of what goes on behind the scenes - marketing, returns and so on.
  • Anyone in publishing - editors, art directors, marketing people, publicists, sales reps.
  • Secretaries and assistants who work with those people.
  • Other writers

  1. Seminars and workshops. This seems so obvious... but how many people do you know who look at an ad for a writer's workshop and say 'I must get along to one of those one day...' but NEVER DO?
  2. Book Fairs - filled with publishers and their latest books; editors galore. Go to some of the public addresses. Listen. Talk to people. Make contacts!
  3. Writers' Retreats. A weekend or a week (or sometimes longer) to spend on your writing and talking to others about writing. Often a writers' retreat will have visiting editors/agents.
  4. Book launches. Some are 'invitation only', but often you'll see them advertised in newspapers. Go along. See who's there. (At least the author will appreciate your being there!)
  5. Book signings. Buy a book. Have it signed. Then stick around to see who else turns up, and wait for a chance to talk to the author in less busy times or at the end. Ask who his/her editor is - and ask if he/she has an agent.
  6. Organisations such as Rotary, Lions, SWAP (Salespeople With a Purpose), the National Speakers' Association, Professional Business Women's Meetings. They're always looking for interesting speakers. And guess what? There's sure to be a business professional who wants to write a book - or have someone (like you) write it for them. Ghostwriting can bring in a very good income.
  7. Join your state writer's centre. You'll get their regular newsletter full of news about workshops, competitions, seminars, and a whole range of opportunities for writers.


What level have you reached in your writing? Beyond the basics? Do you think you could run a workshop for others to teach them writing skills? If you feel you could put together a well- planned, interesting presentation, and you have good people skills, consider putting on a workshop. Arrange an article in the local paper if you can - if not, advertise.

If your writing skills are well developed, include a flyer in the course handouts offering your services. You could:

  • write promotional material
  • write business flyers
  • write resumes and job application letters
  • run a critique service
  • ghostwrite books or leaflets 

For the proactive writer, the sky is the limit. Those who go out after what they want are the ones who are 'lucky' enough to get the rewards.

(c) copyright Marg McAlister


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