Our word “amateur” comes from the Latin for “love.” That’s why we use it for somebody who loves what they do, even though they may not get paid for it. My friend and client, Rod Santomassimo is an amateur lacrosse player. That’s a picture of him playing the sport he played passionately in high school, at Washington and Lee University, and in a variety of settings since.
Rod earned his MBA from Duke. In the picture, he’s wearing the jersey of the Gray Devils (alumni and supporters of Duke lacrosse) and the number 5 that he’s worn since college. Rod loves lacrosse, and while he plays intensely and works on his game, he doesn’t get any money for it. He’s an amateur.
Rod is an amateur lacrosse player and a semi-pro writer. Writing isn’t his job, his job is running the Massimo Group, a top commercial real estate brokerage consulting firm. Nobody pays him for his writing, but he still writes for a business purpose.
Rod is probably the most strategic thinker of all the clients I’ve worked with. We did our first project together when Rod was in the early stages of creating his firm and wanted to write a book to demonstrate his expertise and help build the business. That book, Brokers Who DOMINATE: Eight Traits of Top Producers, has been an Amazon best-seller in his field and a great way to demonstrate his expertise and make his reputation.
Rod is semi-pro because he writes for a business purpose, but he doesn’t get paid for his writing per se. He’s also strategic because every book and other publication that he’s done was created to meet a specific business need or opportunity.
The Big Problems for Semi-Pro Writers
If you’re thinking of doing something like Rod did, your biggest problem won’t be learning enough about your topic. You probably are already an expert. The big problem that you’ll have is carving out the time to give your book the attention it deserves. That’s going to be a challenge, even if you work with a ghost writer or book coach.
The time to work on your book needs to come from somewhere. It might be recreational time, or family time, or business time, but it should be a conscious choice.
Then you’ll have to deal with two other big challenges. You’ll need to do the work to make the book your own. You can do your own research and present material that no one else has presented. That’s what Rod did with his book, where he interviewed several successful commercial brokers at different career stages and analyzed their successes and the way they worked. He also added a bit of himself to the book. One way was to incorporate references to his lacrosse playing.
The other challenge that almost every semi-pro author faces is working through the inevitable stalls and problems that come with writing a book. That can be a problem even for highly-disciplined people.
If you’re going to write a book to enhance your business or reputation, then you’re about to embark on a career as a semi-pro writer. You won’t be paid directly for your writing, though it should boost your income down the road. You will be challenged to carve out the time to write, to make your book distinctive and truly your own, and to keep going even when it seems that you’re not making much progress.