Starting a Creative Writing Business

Any practical tips for starting a business like this?

Creative writing? No. What would people hire you to write?

I know of people who write copy for ads – they have a marketing background. I know of freelance tech writers, tech editors, writers of white papers, proposal writers, and instructional designers.

But I don’t know of anyone who has a creative writing business for, like, novels, stories, poetry, etc.

If you’re starting a business, you are going to need to be more specific than that. Creative writing isn’t a business. If you want to create a business that uses creative writing, what business is that?

What’s your product? Who’s your customer? Etc.

1 Like

Start a poetry corporation.

Lots of money in that.

2 Likes

One of the most common erroneous beliefs that young amateur writers tend to hold is that there might be some way to turn their writing into money quickly and easily without a great deal of effort. There isn’t.

Most young amateur writers love firing off new stories, but are much less enthusiastic about polishing a piece so that it reads well and flows well. But those are things that are just as important as the actual composition process itself. If you don’t know how to take a rough draft and turn it into a great final copy, then nobody is going to want to give you one red cent for your writing.

There are writers out there who are incredibly talented, who have a great handle on the mechanics of language, who have developed an impressive style, and who actually know how to craft a piece of writing that’s got substance and flair, style and finesse. They proofread their work so that it’s flawless, they edit their work so that it flows, they spend hours and hours, sometimes weeks and weeks making revisions, refining things, they do one re-write after the other after the other.

And IF they’re making anything off of their writing, they’re earning pennies on the dollar by flogging it on some website where people who actually appreciate quality writing are paying for their self-published work page by page, chapter by chapter, book by book. And they might spend 40 hours a week potting, planning, drafting, proofing, editing, revising, refining and rewriting on top of working an actual job and still only walk away with a few hundred dollars at the end of the year, if that.

So to ask if it might be possible to start a website where people pay amateurs to produce original content is just silly. Look at all of the sites already in existence where amateurs can post their work for free. Why would anybody be willing to pay people for that? Plus, hosting a website costs money, and the only way you’re going to get anybody to pay for content is to get them to pay for a membership. And unless your content is fantastic, nobody is going to see a membership fee as worth it. If you’re offering stuff for sale then you can get away without charging for it because the customer will pay for the item later, so viewing is free. Imagine if people had to pay to read stories here… Imagine if only the first few paragraphs were free and users had to pay to see the rest… This website would disappear very quickly.

If you want to make money, there are far easier ways of going about it. Fiction is not a very lucrative way to make money, and the real money making aspects are already locked down. I would advise you to go in another direction if money is your main priority.

4 Likes

Uh, I agree with you that it might not be a viable business proposal. But perhaps, you could phrase this a bit more positively? The TO was asking a genuine question and doesn’t deserve to be called silly.
thanks.

4 Likes

main tip: have another job that pays the bills.

6 Likes

It’s a broad question - almost too broad for practical tips. But not a silly one - there are many businesses around creative writing, some of them quite large (e.g. Big Five publishers). There are even some reasonably large businesses wrapped around a single individual’s creative output (e.g. J.K. Rowling), or branded collaboration output (e.g. James Patterson, whose ‘factory’ output earns $90+ million per year).

The larger successful creative writing businesses aggregate the writing of many writers - e.g. magazines and book publishers, literary agencies, editorial shops. But many, many authors - especially the rare successful ones - think of their own creative writing as a small business. The ones most likely to succeed financially are the ones who are most serious about the business side of it. They sometimes include writers who, to be frank, are not very good writers by traditional metrics, but who take trends, brand, publicity, marketing, promotion, and other business process aspects very seriously and are very energetic about those things.

Among those successful small business owners you’ll find some bloggers and high volume ‘formula’ writers who make good money on Amazon. There are some quirky creative writing businesses as well, e.g. there are successful ‘brand’ people who hire lots of ghost writers to write cheap self-help books

There are successful entrepreneurs in technology for creative writing, too. For example, the author of Scrivener was an unsuccessful novelist who found success building a nice tool for other novelists to use.

I think starting out with the idea ‘this is a business venture’ is not bad at all - but an early step is to figure out the general direction. What kind of business will it be?

1 Like

I believe that this doesn’t just apply to young, inexperienced writers. I know plenty of authors who follow a formula and push weak content out every month, and there’s even a publisher who published a few WP books with very little editing. It’s not a fault of the young, lol.

Again, don’t agree with you here. I know of several self-published authors who earn in the high six figures and even low seven figures. If you treat publishing as a business and know how to market yourself, you can make a living of it.

2 Likes

Hi.

Interestingly, what you are asking is a very pertinent question and the naysayer responses to it are a hangover of “established” ways of writing/publishing. But if writing is a creative industry, why can it not be creative about the ways it is practised?

In the free market system, any type of writing employment is a take off from more puritan opinions like “no quick bucks,” “if you write quality content sooner or later your readership will find you” etc.

I maybe wrong, but it would seem that you have not expressed your ideas/curiosity in more detail because of such prevalent opinions. It is very much possible to start such a business. There may not seem to be an existing clientele but if you look at the various writing related markets that even others have mentioned here like copywriting, content creation etc and the huge number of writers looking for both creative outlet and financial sustainance on wattpad, twitter, reddit and n number of job boards, a creative person would be able to bring together existing people and opportunities from such existing markets and create such a business.

So i would encourage you to post more on specific ideas you might have so that the discussion shifts from whether or not this will work to what might work and how. An example I might take from popular culture is if you know of creators like exurb1a, Contrapoints, and SurvivetheJive on Patreon, you will notice that a lot of their supporters are paying to get content that provides better understanding on the stuff of academic and popular writing. While Contrapoints only does videos, their content is directly related to all sorts of writing in circulation. And the other two creators I mentioned, like many others, are actually writing long form pieces in a medium dominated by video, audio and gaming creators and still making a lot of money. And to be clear these are not just people being charitably paid by people who like their content, they are also getting paid to create stuff that creates more clarity on the large amount of reading options available in this day and age, especially with the internet.

I am not very active on too many social platforms, but even on reddit people have tried to ask the kind of question you are asking because they are tired with all the baggage that comes along with ideas on how can one earn through writing and these people were also hesitant/shy in putting across their queries because it is taken as desire to strike upon a get-rich-quick scheme.

I hope this comment was helpful and sorry if I assumed too much about what you might be thinking. :slight_smile:

1 Like

What business?

You may call me a naysayer, but it has nothing to do with “hangover of ‘established’ ways of writing/publishing.” The OP said nothing about starting a publishing business. Nothing about being a business as an author. Nothing that defined a business. There is no such thing as a Creative Writing business.

1 Like

Welcome to the Poetry Corporation.

We are deeply appreciative at receiving your application for the position of Metaphor Consultant and will reply promptly. This is a highly-sought-after position at our firm and we have exacting standards to guide our choice.

Thank you for your patience—

4 Likes

Know what your getting in to. People have cunning ways to miss-use words and actions. I would say be confident and don’t trust anyone

I don’t know if this is real or your joking

I’ve noticed a lot of you mentioned that I wasn’t very specific in my post. Just to be clear, the type of business I had in mind would mix all sorts of different creative writers, from novelists to song writers, and everything else. Some, probably most, of you see this as a bad idea, but I see it as one full of potential, and I would just like some general tips on gathering people, managing my resources, and so on.

I guess I don’t understand what you’re trying to do. Who would be your customers? How would you raise the capital to pay the creatives who were part of your business? How would you market it? How would you identify people who could be your customers? How would you select the creatives who worked for you? How would you ensure a quality product? If they’re capable of producing a quality product, why would they work for you and not just produce their own work?

I don’t understand your VISION. How would it work?

2 Likes

keep it fresh and fun

Thanks for the advice.

1 Like

I was one of those who asked for more specifics. I’m still confused. You state who will make up the business. What types of people. But what is the business those people will be part of? What will they produce? Who will they sell it to? You’ve defined the who, but what’s the “it”?

I’m not sure about that. Maybe it will be an online thing broken up into certain divisions with some overlapping here and there. The customers could be who ever wants to buy the product the employees provide.