The writing business

Anthony Haynes writes: In a previous post (‘Writing the city’, 12 July 2012), we carried an advertisement from the University of Westminster for opportunities for visiting lecturers. One opportunity was to teach a module called ‘The writing business’ on the Writing the City masters course.

After posting the advertisement, I thought, “I’d like to teach that module myself”. Modules on the business/professional/commercial aspects of writing are sometimes regarded, at least by teaching staff, as the poor relations of the course  (though an excellent workshop at the 2012 NAWE conference, led by Nicola Valentine and Pippa Hennessy of the University of Nottingham, makes me think things may be changing).

I feel very positive about such modules, for two reasons:

1. In my own experience, I find processes such as market research, finding an audience, marketing, and selling creative in their own right. I don’t recognise at all the ‘writing = creative; business aspects = non-creative’ idea that I sometimes hear.

2. The professional/commercial/business side of writing can improve one’s writing. Getting feedback (from, for example, reviewers, editors, and readers), finding out what people do and do not find interesting in one’s writing, and what they ‘get’ and what they don’t – all of this is gold-dust for writers wishing to develop their work.

So I have now just started teaching the module, which I’ve organised around four questions:

  1. How can I develop myself? (Networks and networking; building a platform; training and qualifications.)
  2. What markets are there and how can I exploit them? (Market research; selling work; getting commissioned; negotiating contracts.)
  3. What business options are there? (Freelancing; creative entrepreneurship; self-publishing.)
  4. What resources are available? (Organisations; online resources; print resources.)

The recommended reading list runs as follows:

*Alison Baverstock, Marketing your book: an author’s guide 2nd ed. (A&C Black, 2007)

*Alison Baverstock, The naked author: a guide to self-publishing (A&C Black, 2011)

*Alison Baverstock, Is there a book in you? (A&C Black, 2011)

*Andrew Crofts, Ghostwriting (A&C Black, 2004)

**Michael Hyatt, Platform: get noticed in a noisy world (Thomas Nelson, 2012)

**Mark McGuinness, Lateral Action website

*Emma Murray, How to succeed as a freelancer in publishing (How To Books, 2010)

*David Parrish, T-shirts and suits: a guide to the business of creativity (Merseyside ACME, 2005)

***Sally O’Reilly, How to be a writer: the definitive guide to getting published and making a living from writing (Piatkus, 2011)

*Michael Sedge, Marketing strategies for writers (Allworth, 1999)

What else should I have recommended?


About Anthony Haynes

Director, Frontinus Ltd Communications Associate, FJWilson Talent Services


  1. Very vital tips. Thanks much for sharing and for being willing to both teach and look at things differently. You are a unique asset to humanity!

  2. battypip

    Thank you for your kind mention. We too are feeling more hopeful about the future, not least because there is high demand for our course partly because of (rather than despite) the professional content. Keep up your tireless crusading!

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