Over the weekend at a publishing and writing expo here in Denver, there was a lot of talk about using LinkedIn to promote yourself as an author.
One of the people attending found himself in the same leaky boat I do. (I.E. Unemployed and nervous about using LinkedIn for author promotion and not as a job search tool). It struck me trying to figure out how to either be an IT professional or author on LinkedIn, I should be both!
For us to pull this off, we (as in everyone reading this plus myself) need to re-define the perceived role of author, and help hiring managers see the advantages of what professionals who also wish to be authors bring to the table.
First, let’s look at the Good.
1) Every applicant says “I’m creative”. The professional author has proved it. They have something you can touch, see, and [if badly written] smell. It doesn’t matter if you like their style or their genre! They have a creative mind, and have kindly put a sample of it where you can see & touch it.
2) Every Applicant says “I am determined”. Your authors have shown this to you. If they have traditionally published a book, they have waded the endless depths of slush piles and found a traditional publisher.
3) Every Applicant says “I am organized”. Your potential new hire has proved this if they are indie published. They have discovered the wonderfully complex world of Indie publishing and bring an organizational skill set one you will find is as impressive as it is deep. A skill every position in your company can benefit from.
4) Every Applicant says “I have experienced many things which have improved my critical thinking”. If the professional author has fallen prey to any of the myriad of publishing predators, these experience and lessons will translate wonderfully to the corporate world.
5) Every applicant says “I am an excellent planner”. Even if your potential hire hasn’t published yet, talk to them for 5 minutes and you will see they have a plan, or at least an outline of one, and lots of information about how to achieve it. This shows planning skills every position above fry cook can benefit from.
My last thought is finding an author who has only done one or two of the above steps is rare. Almost all the authors I have talked to or heard from have done most or all of the above. Talking to an author about his publishing experience will give you more insight to their tenacity than any interview question on your current sheet.
To be fair the negatives should be looked at.
1) There is a chance they will become rich and famous and leave. There is also a chance they will win the lotto and leave, or have a long-lost uncle leave them millions of dollars in an inheritance. Sadly with the status of modern publishing, the odds are better to find a winning lotto ticket on the ground then to be the next J.K. Rowling. If you are completely honest with yourself, the author is a better candidate then the guy who buys 20.00 dollars of lotto tickets every time it gets above 100 Million. It shows they want a better future, and will work for it! A friend of mine calculated if he took the amount of work needed to be a successful author and got a part-time (25 hours a week Minimum wage) Job, then used all the money to buy lotto tickets, his odds of becoming rich after 5 years were almost 5 times what they were he were to write 4 books a year and submit, and hoped one of them somehow became a huge ‘hit’.
2) There is a chance they will want more time off, maybe wanting an extra day or two off without pay. Again, look at the population. In general, these request come for a number of reasons, from new babies, to the struggles that come with aging parents. If you have an author who strikes it well enough to ask for a couple of extra 3 day weekends so they can go to a convention or signing odds are they are also one of the very few lucky ones who are making it. The author knows about these events, and if your company has vacation time, they will set up to use it. Leaving you no worse off than if they went off on vacation for a week. Where you are ahead of things, is it never happens where a book signing or Convention are not known months in advance.
3) Perhaps creativity is not what your company culture is about, maybe conformity and compliance are your cornerstones. If this is your company, don’t hire authors, or painters or musicians. Hell don’t even hire humans, because your soul crushing work environment will spawn far more creativity then it suppresses, most it aimed AT you, not directed for you.
So consider if you truly want a tenacious, focused, Creative Genius; hire an author. And if you happen to need one that writes paranormal fiction and is a MCSE (amongst other skills) , here’s my Linked in Contact information.