Walking the Tightrope of Authorpreneurship
What the hell is "authorpreneurship"?
Like most of us from the 20th century, I grew up thinking that to be published an author must send countless manuscripts to traditional publishing companies, endure years of painful rejection, and hope for the best.
Then the internet happened. The publishing game changed. These days, authors have another option. A tech-savvy, entrepreneurial author can leapfrog the middle man. We can quickly, directly be ignored by millions of readers without first having to let the gatekeepers take their cut.
Yay authorpreneurship! One great definition of "authorpreneurship" comes from booksbywomen.org:
"Apart from crafting words or images for specific audiences, 'authorpreneurship' means learning the marketing, publicity, and technological, legal and entrepreneurial skills to establish and maintain creative self-employment in the business of ideas."
Why & How?
HIFI Press was founded on that premise. Get the books out with as little friction and as few gatekeepers as possible, in order to sustain a livelihood of writing (and therefore to have more freedom and time to see my wife and kids!)
Of course that ends up involving a lot more business hustle outside of writing. The one luxury a traditionally published author enjoys is being able to simply (heh) craft stories. Authorpreneurs have to be more agile. Being able to switch between obsessively crafting a story and zooming out to build the mechanism to deliver the books is essential to success.
Want an example? After finishing the last revision of book three in my upcoming Far Out Chronicles sci-fi series, I spent a month business-ing. I devoted time and focus to arranging cover art, tax and financial requirements, laying the business groundwork, etc. I'd decided that on Nov 1st I'd switch gears and focus entirely on writing the next book in the series.
On Nov 1st I buckled down and started writing. The words were difficult at first, as they always are, but their flow loosened up surprisingly fast. In the first couple days I was ramping up to averaging 2k words per day. Details of the story were flowing nicely. The first scene took shape and there were even a couple of pleasant surprises. The Muse kept her part of the deal. I was feeling positive about it. My foot hovered over the gas pedal.
Then I did the unthinkable. I decided to downshift the writing of the next book in my series. Why? A few days into November I sat down with a trusted friend and experienced entrepreneur and laid out the HIFI Press business plan, looking for honest advice. The advice was clear and sensible: More than I needed a fifth book, I needed to develop my strategy for launching and promoting.
Upon reflection, it was 100% true. I'd been avoiding thinking in detail about things like marketing, growing a reader base, and setting the launch dates up for maximum success. Resistance was tempting me to write another book rather than face these less sexy parts of the endeavor.
Balance all the things!
Here's where the tightrope comes in. I don't intend to drop the next book from my consciousness. Resistance is a bitch. I know that if I unplug from that story entirely, it'll take that opportunity to throw more obstacles in the way of getting back on track with writing.
I plan on somehow dissecting my time over the month of November between writing and business-ing. Balance is key. To keep me from straying too far, the first thing I'm doing is setting a few clear goals around planning for the launches and promotions in 2018. Once those goals are met and I feel sufficiently prepared to publish, then I'll be ready to slam my foot into the goddamn writing pedal and bust out a fourth book in the series.
Hopefully, as time goes on and I fine tune the vehicle of getting books out into the world, I'll be able to burn more calories on simply crafting great stories. Then I win the future.