Book Review: How to Be an Author Entrepreneur

Joanna Penn has been a popular indie author for several years now, and while I’d seen some of her articles around the web I hadn’t read any of her books. Until now.

I liked her approach to writing as a business, and even though I’ve been a full-time freelancer for a decade I still found valuable takeaways or information that underscored my business approach. It’s nice to have someone agree with your approach, especially in the writing world where we’re often alone, just us and our computer.

Just recently I’ve begun to look at my business plan and rethink it. The way I approached things worked for the first ten years, but now I’m trying to revamp certain pieces of my business, and this paragraph stood out for me:

“Here are some of the factors to consider in your production plan:  How many books do you want or need to write this year? This will depend on your business model and how your cashflow works, as well as your speed and confidence in writing. Some authors put out a book every month or bi-monthly and money for those books (as a self-published author) starts to kick in two months later.”

At one point I was putting out nonfiction books fairly regularly, and noticed that when I would release the next book, all the other books would get a bump in sales. Frequency kept my books out there. Then, I got busy getting regular writing clients, and my book production fell off a bit. I went several years without releasing anything. I’m working on changing that, and found the info in Business for Authors very helpful. If anything, it reinforced my plans.

I also liked her “writing is a job” approach. I hear too many times from authors who talk about the craft of writing while ignoring the business end. This stood out for me:

“I heard thriller author Lee Child speak at Harrogate literary festival one year and he said that the job of being a writer is just like being a trucker. Don’t make excuses about not feeling like it today. You just get in your truck and drive.”

So true! She also said, “If you don’t get paid, it’s not a business.” Earning money from our creative pursuits is not wrong and does not stifle creativity. If you’re truly in business you do everything you can to earn a profit. This line of thinking helps you make better choices when it comes to writing and marketing your book.

The author also talks a lot about virtual assistants. Just recently, I’ve begun to consider whether this is a good choice for my business. I’m not sure if I’m there yet but I liked some of the options Joanna Penn threw out there, like hiring a virtual assistant for:

  • Finding appropriate book reviewers and pitching for book reviews
  • Transcribing podcasts or interviews
  • Formatting newsletter/email blasts
  • Formatting/scheduling blog posts and organizing guest posts
  • Scheduling social media posting to multiple sites
  • Book promotion scheduling and notification of free books
  • Maintaining data on book files and testing them before upload
  • Making images or SlideShares for books and creating other marketing material
  • Pitching media or finding sources to pitch
  • Responding to email and screening emails
  • and more.

I learned a lot in this book and would recommend it for any author.

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