There’s a new(ish) term being tossed around in the indie-publishing scene these days: authorpreneur. Obviously, the simple answer is a combination of the words author and entrepreneur. But what is an authorpreneur exactly, and how does thinking like one help you achieve your publishing dreams?
What is an Authorpreneur?
An authorpreneur is a hybrid, a combination of an author and an entrepreneur. But what does that mean in plain English? In laymen’s terms, it’s a business-minded author.
Authors are concerned primarily with writing and publishing books. Entrepreneurs are concerned with monetizing their efforts in various areas, often taking on greater financial risk in order to find success. Thus, it stands to reason that an authorpreneur is concerned with writing and publishing books that make them money.
But isn’t that selling out?
Sure, you could look at it that way, but that would mean severely limiting yourself and your story. I’m all for producing artful writing and taking pride in your craft. But, let’s be real, we all have bills to pay. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that by doing something you love?
Also, what is the point of publishing your book if you’re not going to put any effort into getting people to read (a.k.a., buy) it?
What does it mean to think like an authorpreneur?
Thinking like an authorpreneur means thinking about your books as small businesses. This means thinking through things like online presence (also referred to as an author platform), branding, marketing, and sales, etc. None of this is stuff that comes naturally to the creative types, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you figure it out! Here are three steps to get you started.
Step One: What are your goals?
Every business starts with a plan. You don’t need to get super formal about it and draft up a multi-page document. But knowing what you want to get out of this publishing endeavor will help you determine how much you’ll need to put in. You should also outline things like your audience/ideal reader (who you’re writing for) and your brand (how you want people to think of you and your writing).
Step Two: Grow an audience
You’re not going to get anywhere close to your goals without drawing attention to yourself and your writing. Like I said before, this is also called building a platform and it’s something even traditional publishers look for in unknown authors. To get started, you’ll need:
- A website. This is your home on the Internet. The one place readers can go to learn everything you want them to know about you, your writing, and how to support (buy from) you.
- Social Media Profiles. You don’t need to be on every social media platform out there. There are about a million, with new ones popping up daily! The big tip when it comes to social is to figure out where your audience is and hang out there as well.
- Email Newsletter list. This is the best way to stay in touch with the folks who are most likely to buy your book. Since they’ve invited you into their inboxes (usually in exchange for a freebie of some kind), you can be sure that they want to hear from you!
Step Three: Finances
Thinking like an authorpreneur means being ready to invest in your future success. Once you know your goals and what you’re going to need to invest, you’ll need to figure out where that investment is going to come from.
I don’t want to encourage anyone to take on unsustainable debt to pursue their dreams, so I’m not going to tell you to open new credits cards to finance things. Instead, here are some more sustainable ideas:
- Save up! Good, old-fashioned saving is one way to come up with the investment you’ll need. There are even apps out there that make saving quick and painless, like Digit or Acorns.
- Crowdsource it! People have absolutely used sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe to finance their publishing goals. Extend your reach beyond friends and family by tapping into that platform you’re building!
Although the idea of investing can be scary, the old axiom is really true here: you get what you pay for. If you don’t put enough in, it’ll show and you’ll lose readers.
How does this help you find success?
Although this sounds like an overwhelming amount of work, thinking actively and strategically about promoting your work is the only way to actually sell books. Like I said before, what is the point of publishing at all if you’re not going to encourage people to read your work?
You could always put everything you have into creating your masterpiece, toss it on Amazon without any fanfare, and hope your genius is enough to draw readers. That would require a lot less investment of time, money, and emotion.
The same goes for anyone going the traditional route. New authors aren’t typically given a ton of marketing support, and no one is going to force you to fight for your work. But these options virtually guarantees your work goes unnoticed in the sea of new work out there.
None of this work takes away from your true purpose—storytelling. It might feel like “going corporate” at first, but really thinking like an authorpreneur is really just coming up with a plan to make sure your story is actually found and appreciated by readers.
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