Writing (Picture Books) As a Business • by Natascha Biebow

I have a
dream – to write more and earn enough to write more and so on. So, I’ve been
reflecting on how other writers manage to do this.


trick, it seems, is not just bum on seat time writing, but either enough publishing
contracts to create an income stream, alongside potential earnings from backlist
titles, or even a bestseller to earn big bucks. Maybe it’s something


The main
question remains: how to get the books (or content) you write and create to
actually sell to a publisher in the first place? Obstacles:


-       Frequently, you have to write
many books
– or creatively re-visualize the ones you’ve written so they
actually sell – before a publisher says ‘yes’ and you have come money coming

-       Some books, especially
non-fiction or longer novels, take a long time to write
. Meanwhile, you’re not
earning money.

-       Submissions take so much time to
get a response!
In the meantime, again, you’re not earning any money . . .


business people have a PLAN.
As entrepreneurs, we are writers, creators of
content, editors, marketeers, accountants, PR experts and more. Possibly, a
business plan might look something like this:













Part 1: MAKE

Show up
for work!


OK, so
once you decide to try to make a go of writing to earn a living, how do you
survive in the interim? Don’t give up the day job yet (in my case, editing),
because you need to pay bills. But maybe try to consistently dedicate a few
hours a week to writing. Gradually try to shift the balance between different
kinds of paid work?


Part 2: CREATE

products that could generate income.

I can do
this. I can definitely visualize lots of books I’d like to write, that I’m
excited to create. Great!


for the fact that just creating books doesn’t earn enough money to live off –
yet. So, while waiting for those to hook in an editor . . .


Here are
some things other authors are doing to try to generate a more steady income:


• Work
on LOTS books at once
(some authors work on up to 10 picture book or
non-fiction projects at once). This might help increase the probability of the right book finding
the right editor at the right time, but the chicken and egg conundrum around
this that I wrestle with is:


How to spend time on so many projects when
you need a day job to live?

There are not enough hours in the day . . .


• Write
for different types of publishing markets
– e.g. work for hire, magazines,
educational materials. Arguably, this doesn’t pay as well as if you sell your
book on an advance and royalty deal, and sometimes these jobs can be hard to
come by. Bt maybe if you are able to land some, enough of these jobs could be good ‘bread and butter’ money to start
to shift the balance?


No one
said it would be easy!


Part 3.

creative with your content and talent to generate additional income


• For many
working authors and illustrators, fees earned at events like festivals, school
and library event appearances
are a great way to supplement their income. Plus
it’s super-important to be visible, connect with readers and promote & market
your book and it can be a good earner if you’re willing to put in the time and


• I
can also offer workshops to schools and to other writers/creative for a fee.


The key to this is figuring out what unique skills you have and how you might be able to market them to schools, libraries, writers, etc. Then, if
you can get enough gigs, you could start to supplement your day job (and, if relevant, any
current book sales) income in other ways such as teaching, workshops, and appearances.


Part 4:

sell promote sell promote sell  . . .


Once you
do have a body of work, you need to sell more copies – and keep them selling
over a longer period of time! HOW?


-       Keep
meeting people who you can tell about your book


been doing this by making it my goal to reach out to people who might be
interested in my book every week or so and offering to connect with free
content. Who?


-       Bloggers and Podcasters (and other influencers)

-       Booksellers

-       Teachers and librarians

-       Reviewers

-       Fellow authors and illustrators

Recently, I’ve been doing some virtual
visits for free to promote THE CRAYON MAN with the aim of selling copies of the
book to attendees.

You can create free content such as videos, activities, educators' guides and similar to support this endeavor.

But this
again takes time – less time to write and create new content . . .

So, how
to advance beyond this circular conundrum?


I don’t
have the answer, but I am persevering.

To shift the pie-chart quarters, I am
trying to:

1. Be
goal-centred, productive and focused
in order to get more writing accomplished in
a small amount of time

2. Schedule what I will do when. When we don’t have to pfaff around figuring
out what to do and can ‘hit the desk running’ knowing what tasks need to be
done when, we can be more efficient and waste less time. This is part of the

** Block out creative time, day job time, family time and admin time (where I
answer emails, do social media and volunteer work in blocks of time which is
more efficient than being interrupted all the time).

And if I
don’t manage it?

the thing I’m trying out: Be kind to yourself! There are many days when I don’t
succeed in doing what I set out to achieve.

OK. I can adjust. And keep writing.


Natascha Biebow, MBE, Author, Editor and Mentor


Natascha is the author of the award-winning The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons,
illustrated by Steven Salerno, selected as a best STEM Book, editor of
numerous prize-winning children’s books, and Co-Regional
Advisor (Co-Chair) of SCBWI British Isles. She is currently writing more
non-fiction picture books and a series of young fiction. She runs

Blue Elephant Storyshaping,
an editing, coaching and mentoring service aimed at empowering
writers and illustrators to fine-tune their work pre-submission. She is also Editorial Director for Five Quills. Find her at www.nataschabiebow.com


Post a Comment

* Please Don't Spam Here. All the Comments are Reviewed by Admin.