Available at bookstores everywhere and online at Amazon.ca and Penguin Random House.


The Business of Writing

by Silver Donald Cameron

a seminar for writers’ groups


We became writers to make magic, not to make money. But you can’t make magic if you don’t have time, and time is money. This seminar is about money, otherwise known as “choice.”

Our long-term goal is financial independence, which allows us to make magic full-time

Shenson on fee-setting: time is money, and that’s the foundation of everything
– Shenson’s process allows you to create a rational equivalency between time and money
– Shenson tells you what you NEED, thus allows you to evaluate projects
– consulting practice is in general a good model of what we do, better than writing models
– knowledge is intellectual capital: time already spent that you can draw on

Time management: Harold Taylor, Making Time Work for You, is the best book I know
– don’t do things that don’t need doing
– hire help: gardening, cleaning, bookkeeping, even research
– be systematic and professional: use templates and systems, even return address labels
– recycle, which maximizes income for minimal expenditure of time
(Pierre Berton’s 12-way Klondike play; Living Beach=radio, TV,mag, book, etc.)
– notebook system: carry a pocket notebook, transfer to work binder (or use Blackberry)

Marketing: develop niches, which creates capital, saves time, generates recycling opportunities
– create materials (for professional image) and leave-behinds (biog, client list, brochure)
– today, a good Web site is vital
– proposals and queries: sell solutions and sizzle
– follow-on marketing: as you deliver one project, propose the next ones

New media = new markets: unbundle rights and package them in new forms; take new roles
– strategic alliances graphic designers, filmmakers, software
– may be paid with a piece of the action
– be attentive to the huge, lucrative non-literary markets: speeches, manuals, reports, etc.

Negotiating: know what you need (based on Shenson pricing) and be prepared to walk away
– sweeten the deal with creative alternatives: what can they give extra instead of cash?
(InfoGlobe, NovaKnowledge, Lorimer = promo materials)
– don’t sell rights needlessly: I sell the Globe ephemera and parts
– Perrin’s first line: “Is that all?”
– Ian Stott bargaining in NY

Managing: track the project: costs, billing, collections
– present detailed invoice
– monitor cash flow
– nurture relationships with bankers
– invest in yourself: training, equipment
– long term: RRSP, home ownership, benefits package
– pay yourself first
– further reading (add Betty Jane Wylie, Kenneth Atchity)

Wylie: “It takes faith, hope and chutzpah, these three , but the greatest of these is chutzpah.”