So, What Do You Write?

Answering the inevitable question.

As soon as someone hears I’m a writer, the first question is always, “Oh, cool. What do you write?”

Usually followed by, “Would I have read your work? What books have you written?”

And while I have, in fact, had a couple of books published, they are my single lowest part of my income.

So, let’s dive into my answer to “what do you write?” and see how it stacks up against how you answer that question and maybe find a better answer together!

What do I write?

Well, I write books. I’ve had 2 published under my own name and a few others I’ve ghostwritten.

I write my own blog posts. I have a blog with over 4k followers, a LinkedIn blog with over 2k followers, and other smaller platforms.

I write articles. I have ghostwritten a ton of articles and blog posts for clients, written articles under my own name for various publications, and help clients write and maintain their company blogs.

I edit books, which includes writing suggestions and content changes in developmental editing. I love editing books, it’s probably my favorite part of what I do. I edit nonfiction, fiction, and even children’s books.

I help others write their books. I do one-on-one and group book coaching to help first-time nonfiction authors refine their book concepts and break down the writing process to write their books.

I write marketing materials and emails for clients.

I write press releases and Kickstarter campaign copy.

I write website copy for client’s sites.

So…kind of everything?

Answering the Question

I rarely to never go into that much detail when answering. Usually, I’ll give my business card and a short explanation, such as:

“I have a couple of books published and do a lot of writing for clients, such as blogging for their company. I also edit book manuscripts and do some ghostwriting.”

It’s the easiest answer but also not the most informative.

So, how can we answer this question better?

Maybe something like, “I am a published author and do blogging and ghostwriting for clients in addition to book editing.”

Short and sweet, I like this one.

I could go longer, maybe “I am a published nonfiction author with 2 books, I ghostwrite books and articles for multiple clients, do general copywriting for marketing materials and websites, and also edit book manuscripts for various publishers and individual authors.”

How much is too much information?

In the era of oversharing online, how much information is too much? Usually, I cannot tell if the asker is genuinely interested or just being polite, so I always default to a general answer. I don’t want to overwhelm with details and I also don’t want to brush off the question.

It’s odd. Working in recruiting and corporate business development, the only people who asked me what I did were potential employers who interviewed me.

No one asks an accountant or a lawyer what they do.

But writing is such a broad and huge area, it makes sense to ask — even if it doesn't always seem to make sense when I answer!

I personally love when people ask — I love talking about writing and my work.

I love what I do, though running a business can be stressful and unstable at times!

Though sometimes I worry because I think they are asking if I’m some famous author they’ve read or heard about — but no! There’s so much more to being a writer than just being an author! The bulk of my income is definitely not from being an author!

How do you answer the “what do you write” question? Share your tips!

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.” jyssicaschwartz.com

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