Publishing a book is easier than ever these days. By introducing Kindle self-publishing, Amazon has revolutionized the market, and as of June 2020, indie authors account for 30%-34%% of e-book sales in the largest English-language markets.
Unlike traditional publishing, where an author writes a book and everything else is taken care of by the publishing house, self-publishing requires you to be more than an author. You’ll have to become an authorpreneur.
What does it mean to be an Authorpreneur?
Once you set out to publish a book on your own, you’ve decided to become an entrepreneur in the field of book publishing – an authorpreneur. You will spend a lot of money, hoping to gain a return from sales. Making smart and educated business decisions will become part of your routine.
Deciding whether you want to publish wide and access a larger audience or be exclusive to Amazon and reap the benefits of Kindle Unlimited, understanding how much to price your books and when the right time to run sales is are only a few examples.
More of your time will go into marketing than into writing. Constant learning, growth, and development are key factors to your success, just as much as your writing quality.
Things no one tells you about self-publishing
As I mentioned, deciding on the self-publishing route means you’ll have to put in more than just the effort of writing, even if you choose not to touch on any other aspect (such as social media and marketing).
My blog post, From Idea to Published Book, gives a comprehensive overview of how to evaluate your self-publishing process, including self-editing and what to look at when choosing an editor.
One of the most surprising facts I learned when I went into self-publishing and being an authorpreneur was the success statistics. The biggest problem with this specific point is the lack of transparency, but the unofficial numbers are that only 0.01% of self-published authors will earn enough to become full-time authors.
An average self-publishing fiction author will have to write and release approximately 10-12 books before starting to see revenue. This means that, even with a rapid publishing pace, it can take up to two years to see any return on all your hard work, and even then, there are no guarantees.
For that reason, so many authors are taking on additional related work, such as paid beta reading, editing services, cover design, and social media management.
You must be aware of this going in and develop a business strategy, even if all you do is write. Also, take into account that you’ll continuously need to learn new skills. Like any business, personal growth and improvement are what will eventually drive you up, as well as forward.
Lucky for you, I’ve been doing this for a while, and have some hard-earned tips that can make your authorpreneur journey easier.
5 free ways to make your publishing journey easier
Find your community
The number one tip I give anyone who decides to enter entrepreneurship and becoming an authorpreneur, especially in a creative field, is to connect to like-minded peers. No one will understand you like the people who are making a similar journey to yours, and these are the people you’ll go to for support, inspiration, and motivation. At the end of the day, your fellow wanderers will be your biggest cheerleaders.
Furthermore, a community of like-minded people is where you’ll find recommendations for service providers, ask for advice when you’re stuck, and create professional partnerships that will boost your writing career forward, such as anthologies, interviews, and event participation.
Strategically speaking, actively getting involved with the writing community in your genre is probably the best way to spread your name at the small price of quid-pro-quo.
Understand your message
I talk a lot about visual voice, my entire business is built on it. When I say, “find your visual voice,” I’m actually saying, “understand your message.”
A message doesn’t have to be elaborate or sophisticated, it can be as simple as showcasing your books, but it must have value. That value should be translated into a strategy that corresponds with your end goal.
The best example I can think of is Becca Steel. Her Instagram is 100% about books, mostly her own. Her engagement is off the charts for every post, because she gives the added value of visuals that tell you something about her books combined with captions that leave you an emotional wreck, running to read her books.
Another excellent example of a unique style that provides added value is M.L. Broome, a dictionary and thesaurus nerd by her own assertion, who barely uses photos and yet has one of the most visually appealing and engaging profiles I’ve encountered.
Not only is it pretty, but it’s also true to her and her character, it feels authentic because it is.
Those are two very different accounts who do a great job of translating their message into added value.
Your message needs to be true to you, that in itself is the best value you can give your readers.
An integral part of this authorpreneur process is figuring out which platform works best for you. To return to Becca Steele, as impressive as her Instagram feed is, her Facebook game is even stronger.
It’s a lot of trial and error, but in the end, it will be worth it when you genuinely connect to your audience.
Give yourself time to understand your writing process
Easier said than done.
Every person you’ll speak to has a different process. Some need to create a book bible, others an outline, some just go wherever the characters take them. In all honesty, most writers are a mix, even the non-fiction writers will each swear by a different method of writing.
More than that, when I write fiction I am non-linear and on the most part a pantster (aka – someone who thinks by the seat of their pants rather than plans out their story), but when I write blogs or guides I can’t start without having all my headers outlined and planned. Many people will attempt to sell you the “best method for writing a book.” While there are a few basic guidelines every self-publishing author should be aware of, none of them pertain to how you write your book.
The only globally valid tip is to sit down and start writing, figure out what works for you, and from that point forward, look for tailored resources, not the other way around.
That being said, there’s an unending pool of free resources out there that can help you understand your process.
Figure out your goal
Understanding where you want to be with your writing career in one, five, ten years is critical, not only for figuring out your business strategy but also vital for keeping your motivation high, especially considering tip number five (coming right up).
Your goal can be the number of books you’ve published, followers on social media, anthologies you’ve participated in to boost your career.
For me, brand awareness is an ongoing central goal, and I’ve been developing my author brand relentlessly over the past year. It’s taken away from my publication pace, but I firmly believe that it’s the right place to invest my efforts in the long run.
Take a deep breath
Something no one told me before I decided to go down the self-publishing/authorpreneur path is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Hence my author blog title, Not a Sprint.
Practising this specific piece of advice does not come naturally to me, I’m very much a “want it all, want it now” type of person. Which is how you burn yourself out (speaking from experience). Take a moment to scroll back up to the numbers at the beginning of the post, let them sink in.
Unless you manage to tap into an unmet market need and market yourself wisely to become an overnight sensation, being a self-published author is more about persistence than talent.
Sure, a well-written book will garner more positive reviews, but very few self-published authors will explode on their first, second, or even third book.
The beauty of fiction is that it’s evergreen. Once you release a book, it’s out there, and whenever a new reader stumbles upon your work and loves it, they’ll go looking for more. It’s why more books mean exponentially growing income.
Yes, it’s discouraging, and you’ll want to throw in the towel more times than you’ll be able to count, but if you’re in it for the passion and not just the sales, you’ll pick yourself up and keep writing. So, learn to breathe and develop nerves of steel, you’ll need it.
You can find more from NH Jacobi in September’s Digital Magazine.
The CEO and founder of Night Owl Creative, a brand awareness boutique that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses find their unique visual voice.