What It Takes to Be an Authorpreneur

Today’s guest post is from best-selling author Geraldine Solon:

This is the best time to be an author. Whether you’re published through a traditional publishing house or are self-published, you still have to work hard to build your author’s platform. But, as of today, more authors are choosing to publish their book themselves, and some of the reasons include being able to have full control of their work and not having to wait years until their book is released.

There has been an influx of freelance graphic designers, cover artists, and editors who are offering their services to authors. The royalties go directly into the author’s pocket with no middlemen involved. A stream of independent authors are now Kindle millionaires.

Indie authors are pricing their ebooks much lower than traditionally published books. This has proven to be an effective marketing strategy for them to entice readers. Readers have discovered notable talent from indie authors who had the courage to publish their books.

The Indie Movement Gaining Momentum

2011 was a phenomenal year for indie authors. The closing of Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores raised the demand for e-readers, and many bold authors embraced the indie movement. The Amazon Kindle became the most sought after e-reader after the launch of the first Kindle product in 2007. The gadget was reasonably priced, and consumers found it more convenient to download a book versus purchasing a hard copy. In terms of pricing point, ebooks became more affordable than paperbacks and hardbound books.

Amazon is a major player in the indie movement. They witnessed the demand in authors wanting to independently publish their books without paying upfront fees. They offered authors the option of having ebooks in a Kindle format, and launched CreateSpace, which allowed authors to produce a paperback at no cost to the author.

Soon Barnes and Noble introduced the Nook tablet, which gave readers the option to read in color. Independent Silicon Valley ebook publishers, Smashwords and Scribd, gave authors the opportunity of uploading their books in different electronic formats without paying a fee. Amazon is now a major publisher.

Promotion at Your Fingertips

Virtual blog tours have taken over conventional face-to-face book signings. Book reviewers and bloggers can post reviews on their blogs and other sites. With the birth of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, authors can easily promote their books without leaving their home. Fans wanting autograph copies of their favorite authors can now use Kindlegraph for a virtual autograph.

A Choice Each Author Must Make

Being a new author can be intimidating. You’re exposing a piece of yourself and may be fearful to take that first leap. The first question you need to ask yourself is, why do you write?

Do you write to make money? As you may know, there are a lot of starving writers. Do you write because it makes you happy and you want to follow your passion? Do you have a message you wish to share with the world? Do you wish to find healing?

All of the above are valid questions that will determine your goal. Once you have a clearer sense of where you’re going, you’ll have a greater understanding on how to build your author’s platform and target the right audience.

The second factor you need to key in is determining if you’re considering your writing as a hobby or as a career. If you’re writing is a hobby, then your goals differ from someone who is writing to develop a career. Writing as a hobby has no pressure. You may be writing for a select group of people, like friends and family. Those whose writing is a hobby are eager to collect stories. On the other hand, if you’re writing as a career, you’re most likely to spend time honing your craft. An author serious about his/her work will read constantly, invest in resources, and be committed to writing.

Authorpreneurship Takes Hard Work

Hard-core authors are determined about their craft, and they know that building a brand entails hard work. They eat, breathe, and live their writing. An authorpreneur focuses on establishing her brand to the consumer using different avenues to promote her work.

A platform is what defines your visibility with your audience. Are people aware of your existence? What avenues do you use to keep people informed about you and your book? Is what you’re offering credible enough for people to grasp? Are you influential enough to convince people that your book is worthwhile? Are you targeting the right audience for your work?

The Truth about Platform

As an authorpreneur who is building a platform online, the first thing you need to think of is image. What do you want readers to know about you? Platform is not about selling your books but about being an authority in your field. What impression do you want to leave with your readers and fans?

Please note that building a platform doesn’t happen overnight. It’s similar to a song that starts as a crescendo and takes months to build. Once you’ve built your platform, you have to continue growing it to reach a wider audience.

The publishing market changes all the time, and you can’t be complacent. An authorpreneur is someone who is on top of the game, always learning new things and being willing to be innovative. An authorpreneur will never stop researching and reaching out to her audience and fans. Authors need to determine if they’re in this journey for the long haul.

As an author, you need to acknowledge that books, movies, and other forms of entertainment will always be there. The method of delivery may not be as conventional as we’re used to, but they shall always be a part of our life. So this leads me to conclude that we live in an era of options and opportunities, where change is inevitable, and now is the best time to be an author. Embrace it!

Geraldine Solon headshotGeraldine Solon is the award-winning, best-selling author of women’s fiction and romance novels and a marketing guidebook: Authorpreneur in Pajamas. Two of her books have been adapted into film. Geraldine is the managing editor of Gastronomique en Vogue, a fashion, food, and lifestyle magazine.

You can learn more about Geraldine by visiting her website here. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Feature Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Compfight cc

16 Responses to “What It Takes to Be an Authorpreneur”

  1. sue jeffels June 23, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    Thanks for this, I suppose the difficulty for some of us is learning how to think like a marketer/business owner as well as a writer. The latter comes naturally but the former is far more of a challenge.

    • Geraldine Solon June 23, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      Thanks for stopping by to read my article. Every new writer/author faces the same dilemma about marketing their books. Although it takes time, there are various opportunities to connect with readers and writers online which will help you build your platform. Hope you found my article helpful.

  2. Allynn Riggs June 23, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    I enjoy learning new stuff. This is the first I have heard of a Kindlegraph, a virtual autograph for e-books. I am going to research that. As Sue Jeffels mentioned above it is the marketing and business owner part of being part of the indie world which are the challenges I face. I have discovered that I am not very patient. I want to know how to do everything correctly the first time. And I want to see results NOW.

    My book has been out for just over seven weeks as an e-book and over three weeks as a paperback, both on Amazon. I know I have sold thirteen e-books, but I do not know if I have sold any paperbacks through Amazon. The vast majority of my sales (over 80 books so far) have been through my personal connections and carrying several copies with me at all times. I sold one to a waiter in a restaurant because I had a stack of four books on the table! I have participated in a Goodreads Giveaway (ended June 7th) and I have received one five star review from that. I am anxiously awaiting the other nine winners to read and review.

    As Ms. Solon says the platform takes time, from months to years, and I am apparently trying to rush the results. How do I keep a lid on my frustration with how slow it all seems to be when I “know” that for a complete unknown author to have sold almost 100 books in the scifi/fantasy genre in less than two months is probably pretty good. I don’t know that for sure, either. What are the stats for my situation?

    I have discovered that while my first drive was just to write these stories and share them with readers (and perhaps break even with the cost of self-publishing), now I am noticing that I am obsessing about stats and wondering when the royalty check from Amazon is going to arrive. Just how patient do I have to be? As a mid-fifty year old my learning curve with all the technology and social media is fairly steep. I worry constantly about doing things correctly and I am mortified when I find errors in published blogs, comments, etc. But I must keep moving forward. As an authorpreneur, I am working to embrace this technical side of writing all while continuing to write. The joy I receive from writing stories out-weighs the hard work of the marketing side. I am learning fast and this post tells me I am moving in the right direction.

    Thank you, Ms. Solon and Ms. Lakin for encouraging news in this ever changing and subjective business.

    • Geraldine Solon June 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

      Hi Allyn! Thanks for dropping by to read my article. Looks like they changed the name of the virtual autograph to Autograph. Here’s the link: https://www.authorgraph.com/signin

      When I released my books, I was also impatient and hoping to sell lost of copies. I began researching about the industry and learning the tools I needed. One lesson I learned is to focus more on exposure and building relationships. Participating in blogs, forums and social media is one way to get the word out there and also gain friends.

      I’ve also learned to celebrate milestones which doesn’t have to be huge. I sold five books in the first month that I released my novel and although it wasn’t much, I told myself that I gained five new readers. I sold more in the next month and continued to learn about the publishing industry. Don’t be discouraged since it does take time, but continue to remind yourself that you love what you do and you’re in it for the long haul.

      Thanks again.

  3. Michael Tevlin June 23, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    You touch on a host of topics, each of which could be an entire post on its own, if not a larger article or book. Here’s a suggestion for a followup: “What is an author platform, and how to build it.” Also, self-publishing best practices continue to evolve. Perhaps another good blog post would explore the best self-publishing resources (how-to books, blogs, websites, workshops, etc.) for people new to, or exploring, self-publishing.

    Thanks!

  4. Beth Havey June 23, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Great post, thank so much, Geraldine. As a fiction writer, my blog doesn’t really build my author brand. It builds my credibility–I am an RN and write about health and tangential material. But it doesn’t build my fiction brand. So my intent is to build an author page when I publish.

    • Geraldine Solon June 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

      Hi Beth!!! Thanks for your kinds words and for reading my article. That’s very interesting that you write about health issues and there’s a huge market for that. Although you’re a fiction writer, people who come to your blog and ready your articles could also be potential readers for your novel. It’s all about exposure and building relationships.

      Thanks again!

  5. Diane Holcomb June 23, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    I agree, great post.

    If writing is a passion, how does that determine an author’s platform and audience? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. (The link to your website didn’t work.)

    • Geraldine Solon June 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Diane! Thanks for stopping by to read my article. Writing and marketing play a different role. If you write fiction, you use your emotion and creativity. When it comes to marketing, you have to treat your work as a business. A business involves several factors, from research, packaging, pricing, quality control and marketing. It requires time and investment. You are your greatest product and behind every book lies an author who wrote it. So it’s basically more than just selling the book, it’s about building a brand.

      Sorry that the link didn’t work, but here’s my website: http://www.geraldinesolon.com

      Thanks!

  6. Christine Campbell June 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Thank you both for producing such a helpful, informative post.
    Patience seems to be the thing. I am trying to be patient.
    I have now published four novels, had some great reviews, great comments on my blog from time to time and am trying hard to build my author platform. But it is all such hard work and time consuming for slow results.
    Part of my problem is that a large proportion of my audience are likely to be older ladies, not all of whom will be computer literate. So how do I reach those outside my circle of friends and acquaintances?
    Thank you again for your article.
    Christine

    • Geraldine Solon June 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

      Hi Christine,

      Thanks for reading my article and glad you found it helpful.

      With regards to the elderly audience, I believe it’s important for you to be a part of a writer’s club in your area where you can network with other writers like you. Being a part of the club will help you with your career as an author since they usually have speakers who can teach you more about the writing craft, publishing process and marketing. You can also sell your books there and have your work critiqued. You can also ask your local library if you can do a book signing or workshop. Hope this helps. Thanks again!

  7. Sandra Beckwith June 24, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Great advice, Geraldine! Thanks. I so agree that it takes work and doesn’t happen overnight. Some authors are not destined for authorpreneurship, but the rewards are there for those who stick with it.

    Sandra Beckwith

  8. Geraldine Solon June 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    You are absolutely right, Sandra. Thanks so much for your support!!!

  9. Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva July 28, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Earlier in my writing career, I saw myself as just a writer. Now I am seeing myself more as an authorpreneur – one who focuses on the writing side and the business side of it. Thanks for this article. I plan to spend the next few weeks finding more articles centered around this topic.

    • cslakin July 28, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      I’m glad the article helped and inspired you! Thanks for chiming in.

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