"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings but a cat does not." -Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Being an Unpublished Author: Hobby or Business?

(Disclaimer:  The subject matter and opinions expressed in the following post are strictly those of the author. There is no intent on behalf of the author to provide any tax or business advice.  Please seek professional services for such matters)

When turn of events finally led me to fulfill my life-long urge to write (read my post about it here) I never foresaw it becoming my life’s work. I would write when I felt the passion to and do something else when I didn’t. In a sense, I thought of it as just another hobby of mine like gardening. But, when I was fortunate enough to turn my love of writing into a full time hobby and the first of my middle-grade mystery series was completed I realized I had more than just a passion to write; I had a passion to one day be an author whose stories would be talked about over lunch in school cafeterias all across America and perhaps beyond! That’s when I knew my writing was no longer a hobby.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between a hobby and a business. A hobby is an activity you engage in for the pure pleasure of it; a business is an activity you engage in with the intent to make a profit. In other words, the difference comes down to motive and not just one of, “WOW! It will be fun to make money at something I love doing,” but one of, “if I don’t make a profit doing this then I’ll move on to something else in which I will.” 

You spend many hours and days, if not years, pouring your heart and soul into the stories you write. If you truly have the desire and persistence to become an author, which includes self-published, why wouldn’t you apply the same passion toward building your author platform and turn "you" into a business? 
When I started out on the next adventure in my life of becoming an author I sought the advice of people who had traveled the same road and were willing to share their experience and knowledge (read my post about it here), and I joined reputable organizations such as (SCBWI, MWA and The CBI Clubhouse), which could help me grow as an author. So, naturally, when I decided to turn my “authorship” into a business I applied the same mentality and sought the advice of a professional tax advisor and business start up professional to help make T.K. Millin and their parent company, Efi Loo Publishing, LLC, become a reality. (It’s important for you not to go it alone for depending upon the state, or country, you live in tax laws can vary and it’s also important to ensure you are getting the proper benefits of owning a business.)
Now I’m not saying I only write with the intent to make a profit, because I still write stories for the pure pleasure of it. What I am saying is I approach my writing with the entrepreneurial spirit of running a business (read my post about it here) and that I’m proud to be part of the community of self-employed authors.  

How about you, what’s your motive for writing? Have you ever considered turning your writing life into a business? 

Next week, we’ll explore things you can do to “brand” you as an author, and stay tuned for an upcoming announcement to an exciting addition to The Unknown Author!

Until then,

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author


  1. Great post! I am at the stage of my life where I can allow my passion for writing to become a profession: aka making some bucks. I'm going to have fun, but I expect to make some money doing it. Marketing, of course, is the key. I'm having fun with that even. Zoe Winters is a dynamo lady who views writing as a business and Indie Publishing as the way to go about it. If you read a recent blog post of mine, you saw that I'm going small house. It doesn't mean that all my babies will go that route. Some I will have to self-publish because they are not going to fit in with my brand. But I have no plans of simply tossing them out for free. We spend time with our writing and should get paid for it. That doesn't mean we won't put some copies out free to generate interest and bring readers to us. So, young lady, you have many options and you are thinking ahead and, yes, you will get your babies out there or me and my writing friends will come to your house and force you to hurry the heck up! I love mystery writing. So, I can only be patient for so long. Good luck, happy writing, pet your cat for me, and remember that writers are a family. You need our advice? Just ask us.


  2. Blaze, I love your comments! You have definitely inspired me!
    I've petted my cat for you (she say' meow!) and I am glad to be part of your writing family!

  3. Meow back to the kitty. Inspiration is a wonderful thing. Every time I read a great book, I am inspired; when I see someone working hard to live their dream, I am inspired; and by having friends to share with, I am inspired. My family has a place-setting for you at our table.


  4. Mmmm, what's for dinner?! Efi Loo hopes it's tuna!

  5. I was a chef for awhile. How about Blackened Salmon with a side of Black Bean and Wild Rice ala Creole? If Efi Loo doesn't like the spice, for her I could prepare broiled Tuna Steak.

  6. T.K. Thanks for the great and inspiring post. You sound practical in that you regard the writing career as a business as much as a passion. It really is both!
    thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your message :) It took me a bit to work out how to get to your blog (still learning a lot!) but I am now following it and look forward to your other posts.

  7. Thank you Jodie and welcome! I too enjoyed your post and hope people will discover it too. (Hint to my followers!)