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.
As a new author with a book, TRIBE EARTH, just about ready for publication. I had to smile when I noticed that even professionals need proof readers.
One ‘other’ too many.
What Do Self-Publishers Do?
2. Send it to beta readers and other other writers for critique
[…] Successful Self-Publishing Authors Are Entrepreneurs […]
[…] See on selfpublishingadvice.org […]
[…] Â Link to the full article: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/successful-self-publishing-authors-are-entrepreneurs/ […]
At one time it was considered very gauche for a writer to promote his/her own work. Now it is an absolute necessity. In so doing the writer is not doing anything more than the book publishing houses would do such as when they make a best seller out of mediocre book.
great article………yes it is a business, but as a former small biz owner, there were certain things that I had to contract out, isn’t that the same with an editor, cover designer, etc.?
any good recommendations for self-publishing entreprenuers?
I’ve got a “how to” book, which certainly fits into a niche market. I know I need an editor as well as a designer, formatter but some of these self pub services seem like vultures.
any advice/recommendations would be much appreciated.
many, many thanks!
Great article, Orna. It’s so important for authors to realize that they are running a business. Among other things that means having goals and a business and marketing plan.
Coming, as I do, from a long line of small business owners i’m comfortable with the concept too but I do understand when authors are put off by entrepreneurial language, especially around sales and marketing. For indie authors, the fine balance between the commercial and the creative has to keep the latter uppermost. This is unusual in business circles. If we get too businesslike, we may find our production line slows down or stops. For that reason a creative enterprise has to be even more finely tuned to succeed.
Thanks for the great article Orna! This is something I think authors are slowly coming to grips with, especially those ready to plan out their whole career for many years to come.
Totally agree. I went into it for that reason. I’ve owned an unrelated business with my husband for 20+ years, my dad and grandfather were self-employed. For me, being in control was an “of course,” not a fear. Sure, there are times when it’s frustrating and discouraging, but I’ve never been involved in a business where that wasn’t the case. It’s still better to work for yourself!
I think the idea of self-publishing author as entrepreneur is right on! You know the saying: If you want something done right, do it yourself. It applies in this realm if an author has that stick-to-it-iveness and the energy to complete the seven steps (and multiple substeps) listed here. I am an editor by trade, and even after all these years and all these books, I am still astounded when a completed manuscript arrives in my Inbox–someone took it from start to end, which is a Herculean task to begin with; then, chuck in steps 2 through 6. Wow. A writer really does need to be an enterprising entrepreneur to become a self-published author!
You covered all the bases here. Self-publishing is definitely more than writing and hitting publish.