I finished Leah Cutter‘s The Beginning Professional Writer in one sitting, even though she explicitly wrote not to.
OK, it’s a short book. It’s got a bowl of letter cereal on the cover. It looks like it’s been designed as a junior student essay.
It’s also the most eminently quotable, fact packed book I’ve read in a long time. And I do mean that as a compliment because it is easy to read, too. And it will tell you everything you need to know as a beginning professional writer.
Leah Cutter’s “Business for Breakfast, volume 1: The Beginning Professional Writer – Becoming a Professional Writer and Business Person” (I’m not kidding, that’s the actual title) is a business book. For writers. Wanting to become pros.
Please disregard the title. This book is a fast, smooth, easy-to-understand introduction to the business side of writing. Everything from setting up a separate judicial entity for your writing business, to the trickle/flow/flood effect of selling multiple works to multiple markets to very commons sense things like how to keep a budget without having to make one (I live that one, it’s so easy, and so common sense, and yet so many people just don’t do it). Oh, yeah, and there’s a discussion of taxes, too (hint: don’t pay more than you must).
I loved the way the book was structured, with clear headings and rapid paragraphs, allowing me to skip parts that I already knew and was comfortable with, or didn’t have any interest in (like the discussion of the legalities of incorporation and tax deduction in the USA). And by the middle I had it figured like a book that was mildly amusing but ultimately for people who knew quite a lot less than I did.
Then Leah Cutter turned the tables on me.
The second half of the book is no longer about the business of writing and all about the writing business. Meaning that Cutter takes a sharp poke at everything from handling your non-supportive spouse, to finding the confidence to submit your work, to increasing your productivity.
It’s amazing. Glorious even.
And it’s so easy to read that I blasted through the book in one evening flat. Which I probably shouldn’t have because I’m finding myself going back and taking more notes afterwards. And that’s very high marks for a how-to book.
- Budgets are easy: automate what you can and analyze after the fact, rather than trying to predict everything beforehand.
- Know thy taxes.
- Separate your own economy from your writing business economy and don’t be afraid of getting a DBA.
- WIBBOW – Would I Be Better Of Writing?
- Scheduling your time: finding out whether you’re time-driven or event-driven.
- Handling friends and spouses is part of the deal – figure out what works for you and them.
There’s a lot more – BfB, vol.1:TBPW really is crammed with bite sized information. Sometimes you wish for more, but Cutter provides ample resources and links if you want to dig deeper. Look at this book as a crash course, or the Cliff’s Notes for creating a writing business.
Who’s it for
- Writers who want to go pro.
- Writers who are pro but have just realized that the IRS exists.
- Writers who want to become more professional (not quite the same as going pro).
- Writers who need to deal with life around their writing.
One thing TBPW is isn’t is a book about writing. It’s a book about finding the time (through money) and support to put words on paper, not about which words you should use. It’s also a very short, snappy, rapid-to-read book, which I like.