Invest & Prosper: #7 Your Professional Identity

Christina Katz, photo by Mark BenningtonI consistently notice writers succeeding or not succeeding to the degree they are willing to claim their professional identity, clarify their professional mission and promote themselves.

Before you establish a platform and start promoting yourself, first you should determine your professional identity. Otherwise, you’ll risk wasting an awful lot of time without getting any closer to the goals near and dear to your professional heart. Simple questions to help you get started are:

Who am I as a professional?
What kind of professional am I already known as?
What kind of professional would I like to be known as in one year?

And then you’ve got your work cut out for you to make your actions match how you’d like to be known.

In other words, the difference between a published novelist and an unpublished novelist is that the published novelist spent time seeking publication, not just writing the novel. If becoming a published novelist is your goal but the steps for seeking publication aren’t on your to-do list, then the two paths, what you hope to accomplish and what you’ll actually accomplish, won’t synch up.

In order for the fiction writer to become the published novelist, she’ll have to manage all the jobs connected with seeking publication, which includes selling.

Let’s say you are a freelance writer. Do you plan to work your way up from a freelancer to an author?

If yes, then it makes sense to start attracting a wider readership even before you get a book deal.

But if you never plan on writing a book, your time might be better spent developing your freelancing business and nurturing your relationships with editors without the public peering over your shoulder. Perhaps it would make more sense to spend time participating in peer forums to share leads rather than promoting yourself online.

After all, for busy moms, there are only so many hours in a day. That’s why you need to clarify and communicate your professional identity. First to yourself and then to the rest of the world.

Professional identity is a big topic in my forthcoming book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books, October 2008). I hope you will find it to be helpful. In the meantime, if you’d like to explore your specialty, consider signing up for my upcoming class, Platform 101: Discover Your Specialty, which begins on August 20th.


Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, is working on her second book for Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform. She has also written over two hundred articles for magazines, newspapers, and online publications and has appeared on “Good Morning America.” Christina is a popular writing instructor who has taught hundreds of writers over the past seven years. She blogs daily at The Writer Mama Riffs and is publisher and editor of two zines, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. More at


1 Response to “Invest & Prosper: #7 Your Professional Identity”

  1. 1 Eliza July 20, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Great post — it’s something I struggle with a pubbed writer trying to help unpubbed writers. I tend to run into the idea that, “I wrote 1500 words of a book — isn’t that enough?”

    It’s something I have to struggle with on a staying-pubbed level, too. It’s not enough to have a few good contacts — I never know when those editors are going to retire or change jobs. Promoting your work is a full-time job, really.

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