Friday 11 December 2015

Indie Publishing Journey: Pt 3: Craftsperson or Artist?

I muddled through on my own for a few years and learned the hard way that in Indie publishing writing and business were twin pursuits. I had to learn my craft as well as learn how to do business. I had to learn the difference between what I perceived an artist was and become a craftsperson.

To succeed in the indie publishing trade you need to run a business and make money or at least break-even.  It may be semantics, but craftsperson is probably more the closest term I’ve come across to describe what I do.

Writing is an artistic enterprise, but it is also one that depends on solid craft to be successful. The Twin Towers of my indie publishing journey have been craft and business.

If you just want to create, but not run a business, then you may consider yourself to be a creative artist. (There’s nothing wrong with being either or both by the way)

When I had a ‘real’ job I had to turn up every day. I had to attend meetings, attend professional learning opportunities and attend to the everyday business of teaching — and I was paid for the privilege.

When I decided to take up writing full-time and become an author/publisher it was a little more difficult to identify what my real job was.

I’ve outlined the learning journey I was on in the previous blogs here:  Part of that journey was learning that writing and publishing were more of a ‘real job’ than I ever realised.

Sitting around in comfortable pants, drinking tea and writing all day was lovely, but I needed to go about learning a craft and building my business into something tangible.

It’s much more fun to play at writing and publishing than actually do the real work! To be honest, for a lot of time, that’s how I would function. I’d do stints of working really, really hard and then take a break.

It’s been a journey towards integration — integration of a career as a writer/publisher and as a creative artist.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:

‘Creative living can be an amazing vocation, if you have the courage and persistence to see it that way.’

Gilbert goes on to say that we sign up for uncertainty when we want to live creative lives. We don’t sign up for the money!

There’s a drive within each one of us to create that originates with the Creator. It doesn’t mean that each one us has to make a career out of our creative pursuits. It does mean that we should honour the creativity sown deep within. 

My creative journey has taken me around the world, caused me to try things I’d never contemplated and taken every creative piece of energy I possess at times, but I’ve never regretted it. I’m a creative artist and a craftsperson.

Elaine Fraser


  1. Elaine, how true you are that there are 2 different jobs: the writer and the business person. It can take a long time for many of us to appreciate and they require very different skills sets. Fortunately, there is much material now on the business-side and many giants whose shoulders we novices can ride on in learning the ropes.

    Is Big Magic worth reading? I've heard a lot of good reports on it.

  2. I think a lot of people who would like to go Indie get put off by the business side of things. Thankfully, we have wonderfully helpful people like you on ACW to help us. I might need you one day!

    1. Andrea we are in a village! I'm running a two-day retreat in February as I've had over 20 people in my circle ask for help in getting started in the writing/publishing journey. I'm only having 4 people this time though. I have a space, but it's a long way to come!

      I'm no expert, but I'm happy to share what I've learned.

      Anytime you have questions I'm happy to help!

    2. Elaine, I'd love to attend one of your retreats! A great idea and a lovely way to encourage and help writers. Indie publishing isn't easy because most writers aren't publishing experts and don't have the industry experience to know the best way to do things. A steep learning curve, imho.

  3. Hi Ian, My first response to Big Magic was a little lukewarm, however, as I studied it a bit more I found some nuggets of gold.

    I'd just studied Brene Brown's Rising Strong for an online book club and I thought there were similar ideas.

    I think reading about someone else's creative journey is always helpful.

    Ideas about following your curiosity and vocations were dealt with really well.


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