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Three Aspects Of Author Business: Models For Indie Authors

Three Aspects of Author Business: Models for Indie Authors

An author these days must wear three hats, that of maker, manager and marketer. Or, expressed as verbs, the doing that will make your author business hum: producing, processing and promoting. We make our books and other products and services, we manage (money and other business processes) and we market, to maximize our income and influence. And ideally, we ensure we're engaging with these three aspects of author business on a daily or weekly basis.

Thanks to the global reach of digital publishing and the variety of platforms and formats available, today's indie author can run a great variety of business models. Once they've acquired the necessary writing, publishing and business skills, they can run a sustainable and scaleable business,

But the challenge is that these three aspects of author business each views time, work, money and success in quite different ways. With the result that indie authors often feel overwhelmed, distracted or confused.

The key to unlocking and dissolving this is to understand, and integrate, the three aspects of the indie author business.

Think of it as wearing three hats.

The Three Aspects of Author Business: Three Hats

  • You put on your Maker Hat for the work you need to do in your business: your creative projects, products and campaigns (produce)
  • You put on your Manager Hat for the work you need to do on your business: your creative assets, your team, your processes, your profits (process)
  • You put on your Maximizer Hat for the work you need to grow your business: your creative ideas, pitches and publications. (promote)

Your success as an indie author will reflect how well you do, and balance, these three.

Three aspects of author business: intentionsToday's indie authors have more in common with other creative entrepreneurs than with how authors of the past succeeded.

See below for their perspectives and vision, wants and bewares and how each of the three organizes time, work.

See for more on this.

Join our Facebook group to map your intentions, wearing your three hats, each Monday and to log to actual accomplishments each Saturday

The Three Aspects of Author Business: Maker (Produces)

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  • You put on your Maker Hat for the work (and play) you need to do in your author business i.e. writing.

While some authors think of writing only as the work done on the book, maker work also includes the writing you do around your book: blurbs, press releases, explainers, trailers, ads and so on. If you offer other products for sale like courses or merchandise, it's also creating the content part of these projects, products and services. 

If you also offer a service like mentoring or consultancy, it's the content of those services too.

So how do you think and act when in Manager mode?

  • Author Maker Job:  The author as maker considers the job is to write.
  • Author Maker Wants: More than anything, the Maker craves creativity itself. And the solitude and space to create.
  • Author Maker Perspective: is focussed inwards.
  • Author Maker abcdeFgs (attitudes, beliefs, concepts, denials, expectations, Fears, guilts
    • attitude: “I'd love to write about…”
    • belief:  If we build it, they will come.
    • concept: Finding and keeping happy customers is a matter of writing great books
    • denial: Maker tends to disparage money, management, and worldly concerns in general
    • expectation: It will be all right in the end
    • Fear: I'm not a good enough writer.I'm not a good enough writer. I'll never get to do what I want to do.
    • guilt: I'm neglecting important stuff
  • Author Maker View of Time: The future will be taken care of by what I write today.
  • Author Maker Definition of Success: I just want to do well enough to keep on writing
  • Author Maker Beliefs About Success: If the books are good enough, I'll succeed.
  • Author Maker Needs To Beware:
    • Getting caught in the “I'm creative, not commercial” duality and failing to work on the business
    • Blaming others, or wrong conditions, for lack of creativity or production.
    • Thinking books sell themselves
    • Forgetting about money until the need becomes critical.

The Three Aspects of Author Business: Manager (Processes)

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  • You put on your Manager Hat for the work and play you need to do on your business: overseeing and directing your efforts, finances and assets.

Managing your creative business well means managing your process and practice so that you create a profit.

So how do you think and act when in Manager mode?

  • Author Manager Job: Wearing this hat, the features of the business itself, not just its projects and products, become important. For Manager You, the work of your creative business is to integrate your money and mission, passion and profits into a long-term, scalable, sustainable business with good income and significant influence.
  • Author Manager Wants: Manager You craves order, safety and security.
  • Author Manager Perspective is holistic. Wearing this hat, we see our business as a system that delivers profit and pleasure to ourselves, and to our team, customers and every one our business touches.
  • Author Manager abcdeFgs (attitudes, beliefs, concepts, denials, expectations, Fears, guilts
      • attitude: How can we make sure things don't go wrong and get smoother processes in place?
      • belief: Business is a never-ending series of problems to solve.
      • concept: Finding and keeping happy readers is about getting pricing, features, availability and support right, as well as content, and having good problem-solving processes in place for when things go wrong.
      • denial: Manager tends to overlook the power of spontaneity and serendipity and disparage belief in the power of the creative spirit
      • expectation: If things can go wrong, they will go wrong
      • Fear: Maker and Maximizer will run the business into trouble.
      • guilt: I shouldn't be so hard on others
  • Author Manager Time: Manager You looks at three timeframes. How we got here, what we're doing today and the direction we're taking.  The aim is to continuously improve processes and tools to protect the Maker (so craft can continue), and the Maximizer (so growth can continue), and all three together can take the business where it needs to go.
  • Author Manager Pace: Slow: attention to detail.
  • Author Manager Money: In Manager mode, you think of money as a foundation and a protector. Money provides the protection your Maker and Maximizer need to complete projects. How money is spent, invested or withheld is the truest statement of your values.
  • Author Manager Definition of Sucess: Integration of self and business so that income, impact, influence and a secure and happy lifestyle are assured.
  • Author Manager Needs to Beware: anxiety, joylessness, rigidity.

The Three Aspects of Author Business: Maximizer (Promotes)

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You put on your Maximizer Hat for the work and play you need to do grow your author business: your creative pitches, publications, and partnerships.

So how do you think and act when in Maximizer mode?

  • Author Maximizer Job: Wearing this hat, the job is to win customers’ attention and money. To turn ideas into products and products into impact and influence. And as fast as possible.
  • Author Maximizer Wants: To grow and scale the business as much as possible. The Maximizer craves influence and impact, wants to be seen and to make a difference.
  • Author Maximizer Perspective is focussed outwards. Wearing the Maximizer hat, we see the business as a system for turning ideas into ever expanding value, creative and commercial. Our sights are on partnerships and projects that enable us to grow. Perhaps even looking at how we might disrupt our field.
  • Author Maximizer abcdeFs: 
    • attitude: How can we expand: get more customers and be more productive?
    • belief: We must take risks to grow.
    • concept: Finding and keeping happy customers is how we make money and meaning, for us and for others.
    • denial: Maximizer tends to overlook limitations and make brash claims
    • expectation: Growth is good. More money means more opportunities.
    • Fear: Won't be successful.
    • guilt: Shouldn't be greedy
  • Author Maximizer Time: The Maximizer starts with a picture of a desirable future, and then comes back to the present to make changes that will measure up to the vision.
  • Author Maximizer Pace: As fast as possible, please
  • Author Maximizer Defintion of Success: An author business with high performing assets, good profits and extensive influence.
  • Author Maximizer Needs to Beware: 
    • Trying to do too much.
    • Forgetting that business services life, not vice versa
    • Prioritizing other people's opinions.

So these are the three aspects of author business.

Three aspects of author business: accomplishments

If you'd like to map your intentions, wearing your three hats, each Monday and to log to actual accomplishments each Saturday, join our Facebook group.

Please comment below about your experience of these three.


What are the three aspects of an indie author business? Top #selfpub advice from @OrnaRoss Click To Tweet

Author: Orna Ross

Orna Ross is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and inspirational poetry, and a creativity facilitator. As founder-director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, she has been named one of The Bookseller’s Top 100 people in publishing. 


This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. I so appreciate this article. My first children’s book came out this year, I believe I am at category #2. My indie author entrepreneur goal is to have many streams of income. Now that I have the 1st book published I am getting readers through website, library and school appearances, plus podcast.

    It all feels overwhelming but doable especially when reading your article and hearing you on Creative Penn with Joanna. I am blessed to have wonderful smart female models to follow. Thank-you

    1. You are so welcome, Lesley. Sounds like you have a good plan in place. Yes, it’s totally doable. A steep learning curve but what a prize at the end, that ability to earn our living doing what we love to do. Good luck!

  2. Orna, this is one of the most powerful summaries I’ve ever read. I’m still at the beginning of this writing journey and have been trying my hand at various things like freelance writing and writing competitions while slogging away on my novel. I’d like to be single-minded but find that I can’t. I’m just not wired that way. So fantastic to see all the options laid out so clearly. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. This is an excellent way to look at author entrepreneurship. I’ve also somehow fallen into category 7, but after two days at 20booksto50K conference I’m seriously considering number 1!

    1. Will be keen to know which way it goes, Helena. Model 1 is probably the riskiest model, as all eggs are in one publishing basket. Diversifying income streams is, generally speaking, the safest option. But there are no rules and each indie author is the expert in their own business.

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