Indie authors come in all shapes and sizes and the only unifying characteristic is that they see themselves as creative directors of their books, from conception to completion. That means into design, printing, formatting and beyond.
Contrary to uninformed opinion, publishing is not printing, or the moment when when you press the “Publish” button on an e-book sales platform.
Publishing is a multi-faceted process that gives of equal attention to seven very different functions: Editorial (writing, editing, proofing); Design (book jacket and interior); Production (turning the text into ebook, audio, print); Distribution (making it available in various platforms and outlets) Marketing (letting readers know you and your books exist); Promotion (specific projects and campaigns to drive sales) and business.
If you are the kind of author who wants to hand over these functions to somebody else once you've written “The End”, if the entrepreneurial streak is missing, then self-publishing is likely not for you.
At ALLi, we are seeing many authors change their mind about this. Trained to believe that they needed a publisher, because then they almost always did, they are now seeing a new route, one where they can have more influence, impact and income. They were not born entrepreneurial, but the fun and challenges of self-publishing is making them so.
What Do Entrepreneurs Do?
To understand whether you are, or can become, an entrepreneurial author, it helps to consider what entrepreneurs do. They:
- Create a product or significant service
- Test it
- Modify accordingly
- Raise funding
- Recruit a team
- Find interested buyers
- Sell to them
And often they find themselves doing all of these equally important tasks, all at the same time
What Do Self-Publishers Do?
Self-publishing writers can find entrepreneurial language off-putting or even scary. It's too commercial; not creative enough. If we put the same seven stages into writerly terms, we see that the process is very similar.
- Write a Book
- Send it to beta readers and other other writers for critique
- Beg borrow or steal enough to pay for editorial, design and production
- Find editors, designers, formatters and printers to partner with
- Reach out to readers.
- Make the book available on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Bookbaby or other retailers/stores.
Publishing companies, both paid and trade, have different people to provide for each of these functions, to varying degrees of success. The successful indie author, the Creative Director of the book, and must oversee it all, within a context of needing to always put our writing first. The director cannot be allowed to overwhelm the creator.
Or vice versa.
What do you think about the concept of author as entrepreneur? Encouraging or off-putting? Which aspects are you good at and which would you need to develop? Comments are welcome and appreciated below.