Is an author a small business person?
October 15, 2012
In today’s digital world of publishing an author is a small business person. He isn’t just a scribe that puts words on paper. If he is to succeed, he must understand the craft of writing, the digital book business, social media and marketing.
My sense of this new paradigm for authors is that many resist the thought of immersing themselves in the business end of things. This is probably why so many authors still cling to the old school approach in which an author wrote a book, handed it off to an agent, got a book deal and left all the business stuff to his publisher. When I attend writers’ conferences, I am amazed at the number of new writers who don’t understand that the world has changed.
I have spent twenty-five years as a small business owner, so it is second nature to me. I know that to keep a business afloat, the owner must be chief cook and bottle washer.
The problem is that many writers are okay with the chief cook part, but aren’t interested in washing bottles.
Last week I settled a case I had worked on for two years. To prepare the case took hundreds of hours of my time and thousands of dollars out of my pocket. I spent the time and money because I knew how the business worked. I knew what I had to do to win.
I was also willing to embrace risk. That’s where the water meets the wheel in business. A person must have some skin in the game. Maybe more skin than he prefers.
Many writers have works in progress. For years. Even when they complete the work, they massage it for more years, kneading it until it is ready to disintegrate. Still, they hold it next to them as a new born child, afraid to let it sprout wings.
Not many businesses succeed if they refuse to offer their products for sale.
I believe this is where a little business sense is a great benefit to authors. Some don’t like to think of their works as commodities, but they are. They are things we hope to sell to the public. Make the best product you can, then set out to sell it.
Learn everything you can about the digital book business. Make yourself an expert. But don’t stop there. Put what you learn into action. Write books at night, sell them by day. Write them by day, sell them by night. Write a bunch of them so that some of them will sell while others don’t.
Let the world come to know you and your work.
The small business person is the heart and soul of commerce. In the new digital world, he is also the heart and soul of the book business. Those guys in New York aren’t going to sell your books for you. You have to do it yourself.
Jump in. The water’s fine.