Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Being an authorpreneur

"Diligence is the mother of good fortune." - Benjamin Disraeli

Once again I find myself inspired by an OPB--and once again, it's Rachelle Gardner's handiwork.  I'm tellin' ya, if you're not following her blog and you have any desire to do any sort of writing, then you're doin' it wrong. 

So this morning I was treated to a very interesting article on six reasons authors self-publish.  RG got fairly close, too, which is kinda surprising considering she admittedly spends her time on the other side of the fence and has never actually self-published. At the very least, I was pleased to note that she didn't take the typical traditionalist slant of "people who self-publish do so because they're losers who can't make it in the real publishing world." 

Not gonna steal her thunder--if you're curious what the six reasons are, then clicky the linky and read 'em yourself.  I would, however, propose a seventh reason authors self-publish.

7.  It's fun.

No, really.  I can hear my fellow authorpreneurs now, cackling madly to themselves because I actually came out and said that.  But it is.  Fun, that is.  What other field can you stay up till 1 or 2 in the morning crafting a story only to be told it's complete crap, after all? 

But seriously, for people who know what it is to build a business, this is great stuff.  My product is my books.  Yes, they take a lot of blood, sweat, tears, time I'd otherwise be spending with family or fishing, and other stuff to craft, but there aren't many businesses you can start with a laptop, a printer, and some paper.  I was talking to another businessman last weekend on the topic of startups, and he said words to the effect of "if it costs less than a hundred grand, I don't even think about it any more."  Yes, starting up a business writing books is quite inexpensive comparatively.

Which is, of course, why everybody's doing it, and training/preparation be damned.

That said, it's probably important to mention that if all you're looking at investing is the implements of writing, you're doing it wrong.  I'm convinced, now, having done it and read multiple accounts of others doing it, that there's no way a human being can craft a story in the quiet of his own mind/living room that's good enough for people to want to shell out cash to read it.  Can't be done.  Lookit, if you're going to self-publish, then you need to be prepared to shell out the cash for an editor.  There's cheap editor services and expensive editor services, but this isn't the time or the place to expound upon which one the new author needs.  One or the other, though, is a must. 

Oh, and a cover designer, too.  That's another couple of hundred bucks.  But again, this is a business startup we're talking about, not a hobby, right?  Just do it.

All that said, once you've put a couple of reams of paper and several hundred to a few thousand bucks into crafting your literary masterpiece, the fun is just getting started.  When are you going to release it?  How much fanfare are you going to give the release, and how?  What price are you going to affix to your work?  What platforms will you use to publish it?  These are all choices you're going to make.  Again, if you enjoy tinkering with business, this is going to be an absolutely breathtakingly fun time. 

Oh, by the way, you're not gonna sell anything at first.  Oh, you'll get Mom and your close Facebook buddies to run down to and buy a copy, no matter what price you affix to the cover.  But they don't count, because as much as you love them and appreciate their purchases, they're not real customers.  They probably aren't interested in your genre.  If they read the book at all, they won't leave reviews.  They won't go tell their reading circles about your book, because odds are the people in your close circle either a) don't have reading circles, or b) belong to the same reading circles you do.  There will be a few exceptions (like Becca, in my own group), and you really should raise an thanks offering to whatever deity you worship in appreciation for those.  But most?  Eh, it's a sale, but that's it. 

That's where the businessman gets to come out, though.  Research.  Read what people are doing, and look what people are doing on and other sites.  What's the difference between the top sellers on and your book?  Plagiarism may be bad, but copying what works is a standard and valued business practice.  Keep in mind, though, that exact copying is bad, too; you have to differentiate yourself somehow. 

Tinker.  Have fun.  It's your book.  It's your business. 

While you're tinkering, remember that there's no such thing as an overnight success.  JK Rowling reportedly worked on Harry Potter for five years before she became an overnight success.  Dan Brown didn't become successful till his fourth book caught on, and then he went on to sell somewhere around eighty million copies of it (as well as copies of his newly-discovered back list books).  It's not just books that are like that, either.  Remember working on Windows version 1?  No, I don't either.  And the Apple I computer, the ugly piece of wood-backed hardware that ended up spawning one of the largest computer companies in the world--did you buy one of those things?  I didn't either.  It cost $666.66 and only sold a couple hundred units, near as I can recall.  A miserable, miserable failure, that was.  Until....

While I'm on the topic of overnight success--Henry Ford didn't just run out and start Ford Motor Company and make millions in 1903.  You knew that, right?  He started, actually, in 1899 with a company called Detroit Automobile Company.  It failed, sort of, and was reorganized into the company that eventually became Cadillac, but only after Ford had left in 1902 with $900 to his name.  But he learned from the experience, and--well, you get the gist. 

No such thing as overnight success.  Let that be your mantra, authorpreneurs. 


1 comment:

  1. I hope this is the blog on being successful, and not the one on struggles. THAT'S the one I want to subscribe to! I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but after publishing e-stories with an indy publisher, I really enjoy marketing them. I've got skills I never knew! WTF, I want to share my cover images with you...I'm just so durn proud of them!

    thanks, other Stephen!