This is a guest post by Norma Hinkens.
For many an aspiring indie author, the wildly creative juices that flowed so freely during the writing process evaporate once it comes down to actually selling books. Being an author is not the same thing as running an author business. The good news is that you can harness the same creative passion that drove you to write your book, to build a thriving author career.
The most important gear shift is to adopt a passionate entrepreneurial mindset. This will empower you to act. You are Braveheart, Luke Skywalker and Dorothy all in one. You no longer wait on validation, nor do you compromise on your decisions. You pick the cover, choose the title, hire the formatter, pay the editor, line up advertising, recruit beta readers, query reviewers, book blog tours and handle customer service.
While it may sound intimidating at first, controlling your own author business comes with tangible long-term benefits. You get to build and manage your own fanbase or “platform,” engage with your readers directly, and control your own pricing strategy. So how do you successfully transition from wordsmith to business owner? By using the same principles you apply to writing fiction.
1. Carry A Notebook/Listen And Learn
As authors we jot down anything and everything we can use in a future plot line, or to flesh out a character. As business owners, we need to adopt the same philosophy. There’s a lot to learn, and the sooner we begin the better. Participate in self-publishing Webinars, listen to podcasts, join Facebook groups, browse Kboards and take copious notes.
2. Know Your Characters/Know Your Market
To write well-rounded characters, we need to get to know their background and motivations. Similarly, it’s impossible to make good business decisions without a clear grasp of who our customers are. Join Goodreads groups in your genre, ask questions, study the books on the shelves of readers of your genre, learn what excites potential customers in your niche.
When you’re writing your book you have the luxury of choosing between pantsing or plotting, but the freewheeling option is off the table once it comes to the business side of things. We need a plan and a timeline in order to pull off a successful launch. At a minimum, set a budget, define a pricing strategy, decide on where you will distribute, and determine how and when you will promote your book.
4. Show Don’t Tell/Marketing
The tell tale sign of an amateur writer is endless paragraphs of telling. Similarly, emailing friends and relatives to tell them our book is out is not an effective marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean to say that it won’t make a difference once your book has been released. With the rise of technology, email marketing has become a successful way to communicate with fans and customers on a daily basis. With that being said, you still need to make sure that your marketing strategy is personal to you, and places like Epsilon will be able to create more personalized engagements to meet the expectations of your fans. But this needs to be thought about further down the line, instead of it being immediate. We need clear branding, a hook that will engage, great packaging (in this case a cover,) and riveting ad copy (book blurb) to close the deal.
5. Write What You Know/Delegate
It’s invaluable to acknowledge from the outset which hats we wear best. We will have to acquire a lot of new skills, but we can’t do it all, and there will be tasks we absolutely need to delegate. Stick with areas that utilize your strengths, and don’t waste days on end wrestling with things that can be handled by a professional in an hour or two.
Finally, embrace the journey. Get in the game and tweak your plays as you go. Visualize the career you aspire to and you will eventually get there with hard work and persistence!
Norma Hinkens grew up among rich storytelling traditions in her native Ireland. She is the author of The Undergrounders Series, a riveting YA post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adventure saga. Connect with her at www.normahinkens.com and like her page at https://www.facebook.com/NormaHinkensAuthor/