Many times we get involved in a writing and publishing – just by accident; with first no intention of doing it and often as a side effect of our other activities. First book I ever published was a textbook for University needs. It was developed with purpose to help students who were following my courses, and really, except writing it – I didn’t have much else to do: printing, publishing, distribution..everything was taken care of. And I didn’t have to go too deep into the details of the publishing process.
My second book, was more a commercial one, with specific focus on small and micro-enterprises. I got a deal with one very small publisher in Belgrade, but the hardest part of the work was on me: networking, marketing, speaking engagements, ext. In a way as a published non-fiction writer I became an entrepreneur, since my book became a product that needed to be marketed and eventually sold. It was for first time I was doing something like that on my own – of course I made a lot mistakes, but I also learned a few things (mostly about myself and how it is hard to be an entrepreneur in the writing business).
To be a successful published author (both traditionally and self-published) you need some skills that are characteristics of a successful entrepreneurs. Your book is your product, and you want to take advantage of every little thing that can help you spread the word about your latest written gem.
What can an author learn form a successful entrepreneur?
Do your research.
Like with any other product, you need to do your homework and research how much of the similar is out there: being your fiction story or a ‘practical guide’ your are developing. How is it relevant for your market? Do you even know your market? Probably you won’t figure out everything at once, but even before starting to write a book, you need to be well informed.
Be prepared first to test the waters before taking a deep dive.
As much knowledge you might already have, what I mean by this is that there are going to be many trials and errors taking turns in your publishing attempts, since rarely first book becomes a huge success (or a bestseller) -just as entrepreneurs at the beginning have many ideas, but often one or two become feasible and economically viable. It takes time, and the first book, like a first idea, can often be just a step towards something much bigger, with higher impact.
Be persistent and focused.
Like in any business, an author needs to be focused and resilient in his attempts to make his book a high selling product. These abilities enable both the entrepreneur and author to keep going when the outlook is not favorable. The first book from Jack Canfield, a well known self-help guru, was originally rejected by 144 publishers. When he finally did get a publishing contract, a publisher wasn’t very optimistic: he said he’d be lucky to sell 20 000 books. Yet, a book sold in over 400 000 copies and became a bestseller. That’s the power of persistence at work!
As an entrepreneur, if you are in search for an investment funds, no matter how the great idea is, investors are far more interested in an already running company with developed business model and well defined products. They need to know they are investing in something worth while. The same comes with your publishing efforts: If you want to publish a traditional way, why would a publisher offer you a contract? You have to give publishers a reason to sign you, and just having a good book idea is not always enough. You need to be persuasive and convincing, develop a persuasive author bio and book presentation. In self-publishing is even harder: you need to convince the whole world in your idea. And just as any entrepreneur you bite the bullet, go out and do it.
Conquer ‘the marketing’ mountain.
Most people, being artists, writers or engineers are simply horrified by the term marketing (I’m the first in the line!) and I do believe that developing a high quality product (book), that is focused on contribution and purpose, that offers people a way to experience something new and different is the best promotional aspect – product speaks for itself. Yet, for people to try (read) your product first have to know it even exists! That’s the toughest job of the entrepreneur and author: to spread the word. Marketing creates demand for the product. Even before the product (book) launch. Later, the quality of the product will do the rest.
Develop your support system.
You can’t do everything on your own. It’s simple as that. You need someone who is already knowledgeable of the business in question, that can guide you and offer assistance. Someone who is trustworthy. Mostly that falls into marketing arena, because as I said it’s the hardest part of any business venture.
Think in terms of revenue streams.
Every business has a business model. So does a writer. Not only does writer can sell book, but there are other forms to translate a book into a different type of product: an online course, webinars, some type of coaching ext. Or delivering the existing product in a different format (audio book) or dividing it into a series of smaller products. This topic will be in detail addressed in one of the future posts. Here you can learn about alternative ways to earn money as a poet.
Building meaningful relationships.
In this post I go in length on the importance of community and how to develop one.
Here community are not only your readers, but any contact in the value chain of getting your book out there: from booksellers who will recommend your book, editors and illustrators that will dress your book and your readers who will impatiently absorb in every word you’ve written and come back asking for more. Once you build your community, it is an ongoing process maintaining it and growing it further, because in the long run the more you invest in your relationships, the more it will pay off later – especially when other products come in.
Be prepared to learn.
Along the way you will be amazed of how much you learn about yourself and how you are improving yourself in general. Every contact you make, sales pitch or presentation your are improving your communication skills, you are meeting new people and you are becoming a member of a whole new world: publishing world. Juts being part of the writing and publishing process is gratifying enough because you are creating, developing, contributing and you are leaving something behind you, as a fruit of your creative efforts.