Authorpreneur is a word for serious authors. Even though this mash-up of the words ‘author’ and ‘entrepreneur’ isn’t in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, understanding what it means could give your author career a huge boost.
Having spent almost 20 years working with small businesses as a public accountant, there are a few things I’ve learned about business that I’ve incorporated into my role as an author. These key things successful entrepreneurs do can help you become successful in your author journey.
Whether you are self-publishing or going the traditional route, as an author, you are a business owner. The sooner you think of yourself as an authorpreneur, the sooner you can plan for your success. Here are a few key areas of business important for authors to consider.
It’s one thing to write for fun. That’s okay if that’s you, but if you want to build a career as an author, you need a strategy. In the business world, your strategy is referred to as a business plan. Regardless of your industry, a business plan should include your target market, your unique selling proposition, and an analysis of your industry and key competitors.
The authorpreneur’s strategy is no different. I attended InkersCon Digital in 2019 where bestselling author Alessandra Torre gave a presentation on creating an author business plan. She noted key items for an authorpreneur’s business plan should include:
- Your target readers
- How you will reach your readers
- Which books you will publish and when
- Promotions you will offer
- Goals for your author business (financial and otherwise)
- How you will reach your goals
All businesses should review their business plans annually or any time something significant happens in their business or personal life.
An authorpreneur has a business plan and reviews it often.
Most businesses fail in the first three to five years of operation. I don’t remember where I first heard this, but it’s something I saw happen many times over during my career as an accountant. Excited new business owners would come into the office one day only to look downtrodden and glum three years later when their business hadn’t done as well as they’d hoped. Their businesses had sucked the life out of them.
The number one reason I saw businesses fail was cash flow problems. Many business owners get start-up loans. This works for some businesses, but what many people don’t fully consider is how they will pay that money back if they’re not profitable right away. It’s very common for new businesses not to earn a profit during their first years of business. This is true in publishing, and it’s why many big-name authors didn’t quit their day jobs the minute they had a bestseller.
There’s no shame in having a day job, and there’s no shame in taking your time to build your author career. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. Remind yourself of that when you’re thinking about giving up. Patience is key for building a thriving author business.
Many authors go the traditional route so they don’t have to pay for things like editing, cover design, and formatting. But even authors hoping to secure a traditional publishing contract may want to hire an editor to make sure their manuscript is as polished as possible. There are many options available when it comes to editors, and it’s not always the case that a more expensive editor will do a better job. Ask for sample edits and get references if you can.
If you’re self-publishing, you can find deals on cover design and formatting too. There are many talented designers offering pre-made book covers at a discount to custom work.
An authorpreneur doesn’t go into debt publishing their books.
You don’t have to be good with numbers to understand what’s happening in your business. Being business savvy can mean a variety of things. For the authorpreneur, it means knowing where your sales are coming from, where they’re not coming from, and adjusting accordingly.
Once you have books for sale, you should be tracking the sales on each platform. If you want to save time with this, there are several tools available that can help you. Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur breaks them down in this post.
You also want to track how much money you’re spending to sell your books, so it’s a good idea to create an income and expense tracking spreadsheet. Make sure you update it regularly – at least once a month. Once every two weeks is even better.
If you advertise (pay to promote your books), make sure you keep track of what you spend on each platform. For example, spending $50 per month on Amazon ads that generate book sales of $55 on Amazon, and spending $10 on marketing for Kobo with book sales of $100 on Kobo, nets you a profit of $90 on Kobo and only $5 on Amazon. These are important things to note so you can adjust your business strategy accordingly.
Another component of being business savvy is knowing what you’re good at and outsourcing the rest. Of course, if you’re in the beginning stages of your author business, and you haven't started seeing a profit yet, you will do everything yourself. As your business grows, you’ll get busier and make a profit. Where you invest that profit in your business is important. Freeing up time so you can write more books (your key profit-generating activity) is vital.
An authorpreneur knows where they make the most book sales and where to spend their time for the best business results.
Building a business takes time and patience regardless of the industry. This is true in the publishing world where it can take years before your book is available for purchase. Being smart about your business strategy, having patience as you grow your business, and staying on top of important numbers in your business will take you from aspiring author to successful authorpreneur.