Sunday, December 6, 2009

Running a Successful Writing Career like a Successful Business

My next guest post comes from Steve Forman, author of Boca Knights. Steve shares with us his experience as a successful businessman and how he was able to translate that expertise into a successful writing career.

On an early spring day in Tokyo, 1980, in a skyscraper overlooking Emperor Hirohito’s palace, I signed an agreement with the world’s largest fishery that changed the course of the international seafood industry forever. I was thirty seven years old.

On February 2nd, 2009, my first novel, Boca Knights, was published. I was sixty seven years old and after four decades of being a highly successful, international entrepreneur, I was a beginner again. Fortunately, many of the lessons I learned about running a successful business were applicable to my new writing career.

All business starts with a product that fills a need. The business of writing is no exception. Every written presentation is a product and every reader is a potential customer. A good product makes all things possible but guarantees nothing. A viable product can fail economically without a strong business plan and the ability to implement that plan. In the business world, which includes the marketing of books, writing talent is not enough. It takes talent to write well but it takes solid business practices to get good writing into the hands of readers. In my forty five year business career I surrounded myself with talented people with complimentary abilities and I gave them the freedom to do their job. I am following the same guidelines in my writing career. My agent recognized my first novel as a marketable product and because of him I am a published author. I seek his advice on a regular basis. I respect my editor’s ability to improve my product and I consider his input an invaluable asset. My publisher implements the marketing strategy that makes the most sense and gives my product the best chance to succeed. Last, but by no means least, my aggressive Public Relations firm informs readers I exist.

The business and literary worlds are filled with talented failures and unfulfilled potential. Writing is a solitary activity but writers cannot exist in a vacuum believing that their literary gems are priceless and the world will beat a path to their door. As a businessman I know I must create a quality product, make people aware it exists, convince them to buy it and satisfy them enough to want more. All these elements require a team effort in order to achieve a successful business result.

One thing I learned from my limited experience in the literary world is that the words “famous” and “author” do not necessarily go together. But perception and reality are two different matters. In my business career I sold billions of pounds of seafood and in my writing career I published one book with a second on the way. Ironically, no one ever asked me to sign a fish. The public’s perception is that being a published author leads automatically to fame and fortune. Experienced writers know better. Being published is like being a start-up venture. There is still a long way to go before commercial success. Research and development starts when the writer pens the first word. Business starts when your product is for sale.

Writing may be an art, an acquired talent or a gift. But business is business.

Steven M. Forman grew up in the Boston area. He was an innovator in the international food industry for more than forty years before writing Boca Knights, his first novel. He and his wife divide their time between Massachusetts and Boca Raton, Florida. For more information on Steve and the Eddie Perlmutter series, visit his website

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