Video: Making a Living From Your Creative Work (plus events in London, New York and Chicago)

  • Why do you create? For love? For money? or both?
  • Balancing creative inspiration and professional ambition
  • The surprisingly creative potential of business models
  • Selling books – getting the basics right
  • Beyond selling books – creative ways to grow your income

These are some of the topics covered in this 45-minute video I recorded with my colleague the writer Orna Ross, in the run-up to this week’s IndieReCon conference.

The conference is for authors, so some of the conversation deals with writer-specific issues, but much of it – especially the parts about motivation and business models – is applicable to creatives working in any field. I hope you find it helpful.

If you’re a writer, I recommend you check out IndieRecon 2015, a free conference running online later this week, 15 – 17 April. I’m taking part in a panel at Foyle’s Bookshop in London on Friday, which will be streamed online (details below).

Long-time readers of Lateral Action may have noticed this blog has been a little quiet in recent months, but fear not, there’s plenty more to come. I’ve been busy behind the scenes, helping my coaching clients and writing my new book, Motivation for Creative People. Once the book is done I’ll have more time for other projects, so watch this space.

These days I’m mostly focused on writing and coaching, so I don’t make as many public appearances as I used to, but in the next few weeks I’m taking part in some great events on both sides of the Atlantic – if you can make it to any of the following, it would be great to see you there:

London, 17 April – London Book Fair Indie Author Fringe Festival

Live at Foyle’s: Top Indie Author Advice Panel: Rachel Abbot, Mark Dawson, Steena Holmes, CJ Lyons, Mark McGuinness, Nick Stephenson, chaired by Joanna Penn, 3.30pm BST

This is a live panel for IndieRecon at the iconic Foyle’s Bookshop, where we will be answering questions about self-publishing.

My fellow panellists are highly successful writers and independent publishers, mostly in the fiction sphere; I will be fielding questions about self-publishing non-fiction books and how this can complement your other products and services.

New York, 30 April & 1 May – 99U Conference

1-2-1 coaching for delegates, all day

For the third year running I will be coaching delegates at the 99U Conference for creative professionals in New York City. As a long-time writer for and a co-author of two 99U books, I’m a huge fan of the work Scott Belsky and his colleagues do to empower creatives, and coaching delegates at the conference has become a highlight of my year.

The conference has sold out, although you might be lucky and get a ticket via the waitlist. If you do get to the conference you can book a 1-2-1 coaching session with me, included in your ticket. Just make sure you turn up early on the day to request a session as the slots always book up fast.

Chicago, 5 May – How Design Live Conference

Presentation: How to Handle Rejection and Criticism as a Creative 4.15pm Central Time

HOW Design Live is one of the biggest design conferences in the US, and I’m looking forward to speaking about handling rejection and criticism – familiar occupational hazards for creatives! – based on my book Resilience.

I’ll also be doing some 1-2-1 speed coaching sessions earlier on the same day.

This is the second time I’ve spoken at HOW. Last time, in Boston a couple of years ago, I had a blast and made several people who have become good friends and collaborators, so I can vouch for the positive energy and networking potential. And the speaker lineup is always great – this year it includes Tom Peters, Michael Bierut, Simon Sinek, Maria Popova, Adrian Shaughnessy and Tina Roth Eisenberg.

There are still a few tickets left for HOW – if you can make it, it would be great to see you there.

After HOW I will be heading to a secret location in the States, to recharge and work on another behind-the-scenes project… As always, the people on my Creative Pathfinder mailing list will be the first to know about this and the other things I have in the pipeline for you. (You also get a free 26-week creative career course.)

Mark McGuinness is a poet and a coach for creative professionals. He is the author of Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success, and Motivation for Creative People (forthcoming).

How to get creative work done in an "always on" world

Productivity for Creative People

Mark McGuinness' latest book Productivity for Creative People is a is a collection of insights, tips, and techniques to help you carve out time for your most important work – amid the demands and distractions of 21st century life.

“Of all the writers I know, I have learned the most about how to be a productive creative person from Mark. His tips are always realistic, accessible, and sticky. It’s not just talk, this is productivity advice that will change your life.”

Jocelyn Glei, author and Founding Editor, 99U

More about Productivity for Creative People. >>

Responses to this Post


  1. Thanks, guys! Lots of super useful info. Personally, I reckon money is one thing that grows so well when you put it to work. And don’t spend any of it, of course. But that’s the hard part. Oooh… a new Folio edition of Dune?
    I worked out recently that my anxiety troll – that voice in my head that stops me doing things – is only trying to stop me getting hurt. ‘Don’t do that! Don’t draw attention to yourself. People will leave nasty reviews’. So knowing that, I can negotiate with it. ‘Look! That tiny short story is #1753 on kobo. People liked it. You don’t have to be worried about me.’
    But it is still nerve-wracking to be brave. Especially when we creatives are so sensitive.