The publishing industry has changed significantly over the past decades. As more people go online, it is easier for authors to release their own work without the help of a traditional publisher. Readers, on the other hand, are discovering writers and accessing books that they otherwise would not find.
The self-publishing industry is poised to grow even larger in the coming years. In 2018, the total number of self-published books released in the United States reached 1.68 million with Amazon’s CreateSpace leading the charge as the top self-publishing company.
The Rise of the Authorpreneur
The popularity of self-publishing has given birth to a new breed of writers: the authorpreneur. The portmanteau of the words author and entrepreneur refer to the kind of writer who does not just sell books, but also participates in other activities to share their expertise and market their work.
The truth is, not every self-published author will be the next E.L. James who landed a book deal and, eventually, a movie deal from writing fan-fiction on the net or Amanda Hocking, one of the first in the industry to make over $2 million from e-book sales. Some will have to work harder to earn a living from their work.
Being an authorpreneur involves appearing in speaking gigs, doing interviews, being a guest writer to blogs and newspapers, and working as a coach to high-profile clients. An authorpreneur, therefore, does not rely on the profit they get from their books; they find other opportunities to earn money from their work through various strategies.
The self-help writers are the most common authorpreneurs, but anyone can do it regardless of genre. If I self-publish my poetry book, I can go to poetry readings or run poetry workshops for readers who want to improve their writing.
Entrepreneurial Skill is a Must
You have the author-part nailed down with a fantastic book, but the entrepreneurial part may need some work. Not everyone who has a good product (in this case, a book) can automatically be a good business-person. There are certain skills that need to be improved in order to properly market and sell your work and yourself to your audience.
By self-publishing, you will need to market your books on your own. This task is usually handled by the publishing house if you go that route but, for self-publishers, they have to promote their own work.
Because the books are sold on an e-commerce platform, you will also have to learn digital marketing. Using social media apps will help you gain an audience who, not only will buy your books, but would be willing to pay to hear you speak or share your knowledge.
In addition, the work of an authorpreneur requires discipline. There is no one policing you, so you have to monitor yourself at all times. You have to set deadlines and stick to schedules you developed by yourself. You must make decisions on your own, and execute ideas. At some point, you will be able to hire an assistant to aid you in simpler tasks but, at the end of the day, you are still the boss. It sounds easy, but being the boss usually leads people to procrastinate. They have their time on their hands and, therefore, can choose when to start and stop. Sometimes, this leads to work not being done at all.
Identify Your Passion and Purpose
The success of an authorpreneurial venture relies on your passion and purpose. The products you sell alongside your books should reflect these two values strongly lest you want to be branded a sellout.
The products you sell should line up with your passion and purpose because, likely, you will be talking about it not just for a couple of months, but for the entire year and years to come. It can be tiring to repeatedly discuss the same topic, but it would not be a problem if it really is something that you care about. Be it your love for poetry, the characters in your novel, self-improvement, etc. You should be inspired to share it over and over again with your audience.
Book-related products should also be decided with your passion and purpose in mind. If, for example, your work is on anti-consumerism, it does not make sense to sell merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, or keychains. If you are in the field of productivity, apps that create habits would be a good idea.
Other potential book-related products include online courses, webinars, games, and clothing and accessories,
Being an authorpreneur will be a lot of work but, in exchange, you can earn a living from doing what you want to do. You also will meet like-minded people who enjoy your work and share your passions and purpose with your audience.