There once was an age when all you needed as an author was an imagination and a load of time on your hands. A few talented authors would create masterpieces which would exist hundreds of years later. These people would exist on the outside of society, watching and observing the habits of common folk before retelling their stories in a leather-bound volume. But… guess what?
Those times have gone, my friend. We’re all living in a world now where the bottom line is read between every line. We can’t do anything for a living unless we first think about how much it’ll be worth.
Of course, not all people have to succumb to the realities of life. There are always the exceptions to the rule who succeed where most would fail and hold a light to a path which attracts innocent authors to the destiny of a moth.
Reality is the place where you need to concentrate your efforts and if you become an outlier then great. Writing as a living is a dream in itself, there’s no need to go over the top and worry about compromising some artistic ethic.
In Stephen King’s book called ‘On Writing’, he explains that an author needs a toolbox to help produce the craft of writing. I think there’s now another rack in the toolbox which is required to help the author exist in the current environment. Good writing is the manufacturing department of your business. It needs to be world class, but a company with just a manufacturing department is going to go out of business pretty quickly.
Product Development and Strategy
The modern writer needs to know exactly what type of product they’re going to make and this will be informed by the Marketing Department, and they’ll also need to think about their strategy. Are you going to release a series? One-offs? Novellas? Short Stories? How many a year? How many in five years? Where? How? What if something changes?
In order to market anything effectively, you must first understand who your market is. Market research, demographics etc. How do you know who you’re selling to? What do they like? Who’s your perfect reader? What type of cover do they like? Is there a proven formula? Are you a pioneer or a copycat? A book takes a long time to write, you have to make sure it’s sellable before you begin.
Sales and Distribution
Selling books is tricky. Online sales are great and they’ve made the whole business much simpler, but you also have to think about book fairs, shops, libraries, book clubs, school fetes, etc. Promotional items like posters, bookmarks, cards…
Financing an operation can be hard on cash-flow. What’s high priority and what can wait? How much are you taking on royalties and physical sales? Where do you make the most money, shouldn’t you be concentrating your efforts there? Management-style reports should be produced to run the business professionally.
IT is almost as important to the modern writer as the ability to write. If you can’t use a computer effectively then you have no chance of doing it on your own. If you need to bring someone in for every stage of the operation then you’re going to lose your profits before you’ve even begun. Self-publishing requires you to be computer literate.
This is just an overview of the tools you need to be aware of in order to become a self-published writer. Apart from this, there’s also the attributes you need to nurture in your personality.
The future is full of opportunity in a career that is changing by the minute. A modern writer must be an entrepreneur in order to do-it-themselves but, if they’re willing then they’ll succeed eventually.
Until next time…