In the digital age, a new kind of author is emerging.
The entrepreneurial author (EA).
I think this is where the term indie publishing comes into play and maybe what kind of distinguishes a self published author from what some call an independently published author or indie.
Entrepreneurial authors run their own publishing business – all aspects. The only difference between an entrepreneurial author and an actual independent press is that EAs only publish own works and contract out the work needed. Independent presses publish more than one author while handling all business aspects.
To be an entrepreneurial author – you will have to wear many hats: (these are not in any order of importance)
· Writer – Write the best book you can. But in this industry, the writer side has to understand that self-publishing is not a shortcut to writing; it’s a shortcut to publishing.
· Editor – Edit and re-edit your own work. Traditional authors have a stricter vetting process where many people look over the work from content to copyediting. EAs need to be even better at editing. That way, the EA can use an editorial budget wisely – for content editing and copyediting.
· Cover designer – Figure out your cover design as well as overall book design. Even if you can’t do it yourself, try to learn about covers, find out what looks good and what doesn't – placement, fonts, colors, jacket copy – and know your book enough to figure out what concept you want. Whether you pay someone or not – you need to know how to define quality work.
· Formatter – Unless you want to pay someone to format, you will be expected to format across several different channels that may have different requirements, depending on what ebook format you need (epub, mobi, pdf, paperback etc). This requires an understanding of Word, Html, and more.
· Project manager – When you have experts doing things for you (covers, swag, web sites etc.), you have to manage a budget and a timeline to be sure it all comes together.
· Distribution – You will have to manage distributing your book through multiple channels – domestically and internationally – across different formats (digital vs paper). For ebook – which channels are best? Are they all priced right? Do they show consistent and correct information on all sites? For print, where are your books on consignment, what libraries have them, how any copies do you need for upcoming book fairs?
· Researcher – As you embark on this process, you will come across many questions as you go. So you will need to be able to get online and find answers to your own questions as well as find questions you should be asking yourself. There is not a detailed guide. You also need to be keeping up with the ebook/digital market.
· Sales – Keeping track of your sales is time consuming. Not to mention, you will want to know what you are selling over multiple channels. This includes tracking your pricing changes, sales, special promotions. These figures can help you track your success.
· Accountant – Finding out who owes you what is important. You need to be able to figure out what you should be getting paid from each channel. This requires spreadsheets and daily/weekly/monthly counts. You will also want to find the best way to manage your taxes- sales, state and federal- correctly.
· Marketer – Creating a marketing plan is key. You will want to put aside the time to do it, find the right sites to approach, and then be sure to follow up. This includes finding blogs, ezines, and magazines to approach as well as creating your own swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc) for contests, signings, fairs etc. Figure out how to get the word out about your book without being completely annoying.
· Social Networker – This is about building relationships not necessarily a sales channel. You will want to decide which social networks are best for you and then be sure to manage them effectively maintaining blogs, Twitter, Facebook. etc. Don’t do what you can’t handle or what you don’t enjoy.
· PR rep – PR is a part of your marketing and publicity plan. You will need to call and set up signings or other PR-related activities. You may want to write and drop press releases in certain media outlets. You will want to track your media contacts for articles/features/interviews. Press kits will be key as well, including bio, praises, book summaries, reviews, and how they can find your book. This can be both online and hard copy.
· Lawyer – You may find your book popping up on various sites for free. It’s inevitable with digital copies. You will want to follow up with book pirates who are posting your book as a free download and send legal letters asking for removal. Then you’ll need to track and see if they take it down.
· Problem Solver – Problems come up daily whether it is your numbers disappearing on Amazon, or a blogger who forgot to post an interview, or a price discrepancy. They come up every day. You have to be able to juggle tasks to get things taken care of or it can impact your business.
· Multi-tasker – Learn how to shift all day long between all these roles. It's exhausting. Time management will be essential to success. If you can use your time wisely (and not waste it) you will be much more successful. Schedule things out in chunks – writing time, marketing, legal checks etc. Put time aside for each hat instead of handling it as it comes in.
A few other hats I think help keep you sane during this process (not necessarily on the business side):
- Thoughtful – Support others in their journeys too. Thank those who support you. It is not all about you, though it feels like it sometimes.
- Tough skin – Indies get rejection too. And it hurts. You have to move on and find those who support you instead of chasing the ones who don't.
- Psychologist – I have to talk myself down off a ledge every now and then. Of course I do live in a one story so not too bad. 🙂
- Night Owl. If you can find a way (without drugs! ) to only sleep 4 hours a night and not be a total bear the next morning when your kids want pancakes instead of cereal – (still working on this one) – you are golden.
Self publishing is not the easy way out. It is just the fast way to publication. It should not replace writing a good book, creating a quality book, or everything that comes with self publishing.
All of these hats can be hard to manage and very overwhelming along with your other life roles – mother, father, friend, wife, provider, cleaner, laundry doer, cooker, dog walker, appointment maker, chauffeur, and much more.
Basically, self-publishing is like running your own business – all by yourself – with no help.
So all the things a business would do – you will do.
It's Entrepreneurial Authoring. It’s exhausting but rewarding. And just like in life, you get what you give.
But I'm too brain dead to remember.
S.R. Johannes is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller series) and new tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. She has also published short novelettes as well as a teen romance anthology with 16 other authors titled, In His Eyes. Uncontrollable is the sequel to Untraceable, and Unstoppable (book 3) is scheduled for Summer 2013.
S.R. Johannes is the YA advisor of ALLi and a winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult category). She was also nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult category), a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review's Best Young Adult of 2012, and a YA Finalist in the US Book News best Book of 2012.
After earning an MBA and working in corporate America doing marketing for over 15 years, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, English-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.
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