Michael J Holley – Writer/Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur-Picture-QuoteThe role of Writer/Entrepreneur is mentioned in nearly every writing blog I see these days. It’s the new name which the industry seems to have given to anyone who self-publishes successfully. Notice the word: successfully.

You’re just a writer these days if all you do is write the odd book and put them out there. The entrepreneurial side is all of the malarky that fits around the writing. So, what are you?

In the beginning there were writers. They would write stories and then a publisher would take their creation and spread their words around the world, while the writer sat back and thought up another story. Now, I don’t think this even happens to traditionally published authors. (maybe a few who we’ve all heard of)

These days we have to push ourselves. We have to stand out from the crowd and we have to make and sell our product. This is no mean feat and the illusion of a writer being a part-time vocation is definitely in the past.

If you’re traditionally published then you’ll have a team working with you, helping you to sell your books and sharing the burden. However, if you’re self-publishing either solely, or in a hybrid model, then you’ll have to be a business person at the same time.

Product

You need to think of books as product. Without products you have nothing to sell and without anything to sell your business will go pop. You have to consider product launches, product pipelines, product delivery schedules.

Strategy

You have to have a plan. “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” This involves pricing, as well as product info, and there has to be targets and deliverables along the way. You have to keep abreast of the industry, the direct market that you’re selling to and current trends.

Marketing

This is one of the most important facets that will make you into a successful self-published writer. There are terrible books that have been marketed excellently and it can often make the difference. You need to know your demographic, how to reach out to them, how to engage with them, and basically, to let them know that you’re there.

It’s a business

Now that we have the opportunity to create and publish our own product we also have to take on the responsibilities of a publishing business as well. Half of the new job is being an entrepreneur and those that succeed, realise this and thrive.

I think as the industry model begins to settle and hybrid authors become the norm, there will be more supporting services available for authors to delegate some of this responsibility to. At the moment however, people are still finding their way and it’s a case of rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself.

Until next time…

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2 responses to “Michael J Holley – Writer/Entrepreneur

  1. Interesting food for thought. recently I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from the selfpublishingpodcast put out by Sean Platts and Jonny B Truant. I’ve devoured their Write. Publish. Repeat. book as well which touches on a lot of what you’ve written about here. First and foremost, same as everything else in this world, talent will only get you so far. Hard work, self awareness, flexibility and persistence will get you a lot further – and that’s true for any success, not just writing.

    Agree with your point about keeping abreast of the industry – You’ve got to know yourself and what you want to achieve and stick to it, but through that you’ve got to see what’s working pricing/promotion-wise and be prepared to adapt – but I’m not sure you need to spend too much time watching trends though…to me you need to keep the writing and the business parts separate – the two halves you describe. You write the best damn book you can. You pour your heart and soul into your words as that is what will keep you coming back to the keyboard. But once it’s done, it’s done. After that, and only then, is it a product and you need to treat it as such. If you use the business elements to try and influence what you are writing then I feel it can be noticed and it will probably make you unhappy. One of those topics for discussing over a beer I feel.

    I’m not sure how entrepreneurial you have to be though…how innovative. You need some sort of hook for people to keep coming back to you, sure, but I’m not sure how innovative that has to be. It can simply be the production of good stories. That’s why I go back to authors time and time again. People read for so many different reasons though, that I think that putting too much into being different, in trying to distinguish yourself, could again lead to you not necessarily writing the best books you can. This is a more nebulous area to comment on, as to be honest, if you are the entrepreneurial type and want to write trend setting new works in radically new ways then all credit to you. But if you want to write entertaining, yet tense and suspenseful crime novels then go for it. If you can nail some of the business elements you should do well enough to make a living whatever you write (key to this assumption is that you keep on writing. the evidence shows that nothing sells a book like another book).

    Fundamentally I think people are fed up of waiting for the lightening strike that seems to be the way traditionally published authors survive. Self publishing,, if treated with respect and recognised that requires work and a reasonable degree of business thinking, could be a way to escape the rat race. That’s what I’m hoping it is for me in the dim and distant future.

    Hmmm, more to say on the subject than I thought.

    • Thanks for the comment, Mobewan. I actually agree with you whole-heartedly. I don’t even know why I put market trends. I suppose I meant that you need to watch out for the current trends in how to market your books, rather than the trends as to what’s selling. I listen to the guys you mention too, they’ve got a lot of ideas and I suppose this is what I mean. Self-published writers have a responsibility to keep on top of new ideas rather than just worry about the writing. You know what I mean…

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