And I tell them, “I own my own business.”
“Oh!” they say, impressed. “What’s your business?”
“I’m an author.”
At this point, I always get a weird look. They’re confused. They’re wondering if this is some sort of joke. Because being an author is different from running your own business, right?
Authors are supposed to brood over a mug of coffee for hours on end until a bolt of inspiration strikes, and then they pen their words furiously until the doldrums hit again. They’re paid homage by the populace at large as if they were gods, but they aren’t paid much in cold, hard cash. Unless they’re also a household name.
Business owners, on the other hand, furiously strive to balance product development, task organization, annual goals, employee management, and marketing. They sink their own savings into their business dreams, maybe take out a loan to get started, and work ten to twelve hours a day six days a week, hoping they won’t fall into the overwhelming majority of business start-ups that fail. They balance ledgers and review statistics to see what’s selling and what isn’t. They are also highly respected by the populace at large, but in a much different way from authors. It’s like the difference between Benedict Cumberbatch and Donald Trump.
So when I say that my business is to write books … I’m basically introducing a mash-up most people can’t mentally categorize. But is book selling really that different from selling any other product? Is an author entrepreneur–or an “authorpreneur,” as some call it–any different from a baker, a restaurateur, or a mechanic?
The Similarities Between an Authorpreneur and an Entrepreneur
So, this is me as an authorpreneur. Does it sound familiar?
- My daily work schedule has me sitting at my desk ten hours a day.
- I HAVE a daily work schedule.
- When I have more work than 10 hours per day can fit, I work MORE hours as well as weekends.
- While start-up costs are low compared to other businesses and a lot can be done for free, I am looking at investing in professional cover art, a virtual assistant, and book ads. In other words, I’m investing my own money in my own business.
- I spend at least four hours a day on marketing, network building, and expanding my brand’s reach.
- I HAVE a brand (as summarized by my author tagline: Hearth & Homicide Fiction).
- I review statistics daily, both for social media reach and units (books) sold. (Which aren’t many yet, because my first title is just out. But you didn’t hear me say that. Tell you about it later. Promise.)
- While I won’t have employees, I will be contracting other professionals for their services. (I refer you back to the cover artist and virtual assistant mentioned above.)
- I have a business budget.
- I have a written business plan.
- I’d like to avoid falling into the overwhelming majority of authors who fail.
- While I take pride in my product (books), I also have an eye toward the bottom line (money), and if books aren’t selling, I’ll be looking to improve my product, improve my marketing, or both.
So, in what way, exactly, am I any different from an entrepreneur? Because my job is creative? I’ve worked for small businesses before, and I’ll have you know, whether it’s a restaurant or a quilt shop or a humane society, creativity is part of any business.
So really, there is no difference.
The reason I refer to myself as a business owner and call book writing my job is because it gives me the right mindset to succeed. I’m not just dilly-dallying with words. And I’m not just hoping to “strike it big.” I’m an authorpreneur. That means that my success is largely proportional to the amount of work I put into it.
What about you? Do you take the mindset of a business person, or a creative? (Obviously, we do have to be some of both!) Leave us a note in the comments!
Resources for You
- Authorpreneur Magazine – I Googled the word “authorpreneur” to see if it really was a word. Spellcheck was wrong, Google was right. Not only is it a word, there’s even a magazine for authorpreneurs! According to their website: “Our aim is to help authors become Authorpreneurs – professionals who promote their own written products and brand as a business.” You can see it online, subscribe to a digital edition, or get it in your mailbox the old-fashioned way.
- Are You an Author or an Authorpreneur? – Want to mash up business and authorship? This article will give you a list of resources and ideas to start thinking like a small business person.
- Business For Authors. How To Be An Author Entrepreneur – This book by Joanna Penn is on my Kindle as we speak, and next on my to-read list. As she states on the blurb: “My aim is to take the result of your creativity into the realm of actually paying the bills.” You can also check out her website on the same topic, The Creative Penn.