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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Authorpreneurship




I just read another article on the topic of authorpreneurship, a new word and a topic that has taken on
an “immense proportion” as one of my book characters often says. It’s impossible to believe that a mere decade ago, writers were being wined and dined by large publishers. Book tours and publicity was their bailiwick, not the authors. Of course, copyediting was also part of the package, and we all know from the number of typos in new books, that too is history. I mean what is the world coming to when the likes of James Patterson, Stephen King, and Adriana Trigiani have hit social media to sell their books?!

Advertising:  The fact is, writers must be entrepreneurs and learn to sell their writing in all of its formats. As a freelancer, submitting proposals and bidding on jobs is a part of my life, and I quickly learned that I had to advertise my professional expertise in order to make a living, not an easy task for a writer. By nature, we tend to work well by ourselves. As a freelancer, I have to work well by myself and play nice with others as well.

Teamwork:  I’ve seen an increase in the necessity for freelancers to work in teams to accomplish what a company needs and often what an author needs. An example: three clients I currently work with have two different types of editors on their projects and one requires meetings with other team members to hash out who is responsible for what, deadlines, and other processes. I find myself almost daily thanking my lucky stars that I have a background in team facilitation and organizational management, skills I thought I wouldn't need as a freelance writer.

Branding:  Three of us came together to create Lyrical Pens and begin to develop our author brands for the day when we would be published (or at least more published authors). Little did we know how prophetic our mission would become over the last five years. As the self-publishing and e-book markets have exploded, so has the imperative that an author think like an entrepreneur if we want to sell our books. No one is going to do it for us—not the traditional publisher, not the self-publishing companies, and not e-book providers. They all pay lip service to what they “give” us for our work, but do not be fooled. The author is the one in the pilothouse.

Captain:  You are the captain of your own ship. And for most authors, we are the ensign, the crew, the cook, and the social director. And last, but most important, we are the engine that powers the ship.

Stats:  If the statistics I’ve seen are true, there were roughly 2 million more books published in the U.S. in 2014 than in 2004. That does not include international markets. Well-known, extensively published authors have begun clawing their way out of the slush piles along with the rest of us. And how many books have you read over the last year that weren’t worth the paper or digital thingamajigs they were self-published on? Too many, in my estimation!

How does all of this discouraging news help?

Here is my take on starting to look at your writing as an entrepreneur. Remember, you are now the boss. You make the decisions, which can be daunting, but being bossy, I naturally flow in that direction.

Structure: Most book authors have day jobs out of necessity. Look around where you work. What structures are in place to keep things working?

1.     Schedules: time sheets or clocks, 24/7 or 9 - 5, Monday - Friday or seven days a week, defined turnaround times or arbitrary?
  • Do you schedule your writing or write when the mood strikes you? What software do you use? Which ones would help you move forward?
2.  Job descriptions: detailed or broad, skills and accountabilities defined, evaluation periods or open?
  • Have you defined what a freelance writer or author in your genre needs to do to succeed? What skills do you have that will help? What skills do you need?
 3.  Philosophy: mission that defines the company, vision for the future, and measurable goals?
  • Why do you want to write or why are you writing? What genre do you write (or want to write) in? What do you want to accomplish (number of articles or posts a month, so many words or pages a day)? What products do you want to produce?
4.  Marketing: digital, social media, news and magazine ads, direct mail, emails, website, blogs?
  •  Do you use any of these resources? What do you talk about on them? Do you slam others in public? What skills do you have that would help you sell your ideas and books, articles, etc.?
They are not new ideas.These questions are the basics that businesses deal with to be successful. 

Success:  They are an absolute necessity for every writer who wants to move forward and rise above the mid-point of success as a writer. The majority of writers don’t have the financial resources to hire a publicist, a substantive editor, a copyeditor, a website developer, a blogger, and an administrative assistant.

But we do have:
  • stamina to believe in dreams
  • guts to go to critique groups
  • chutzpah to enter contests
  • fearlessness to revise and revise in the sure knowledge that it’s worth the effort.
Do not for one minute think I don’t have days when I want to run the pages through the shredder. 
Fortunately, those days do not define me as a writer. Don't let them define you.

Writing is the basis of communication, whether it is in a company or as a company. And in today’s world, written communication is critical to get the message about any topic and any product and any service imaginable to the masses. It is the core of societal information.
 
Sell yourself. Crass? Yes and No. Necessary? YES!

Published authors work as professors in universities, peddle their skills and services as lawyers, doctors, therapists, and freelancers, model, write for television sitcoms, give workshops, and travel lecture circuits to make a living. And a select few earn royalties from conversions of their books to the big screen and Broadway.

Writers are in good company with teachers, coaches, photographers, artists, designers, chefs, ministers, musicians, athletes, and actors. How many of these have you seen in an ad? Guess what?

They are all entrepreneurs! We are authorpreneurs - a breed unto itself! 

Mahala


P.S. Check out the Written Word pages to see what a freelancer does.
P. P. S.  Register at www.esill.org for a class on Blogging Basics 

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