Authorpreneur huh? Simple enough, we’re just mashing Entrepreneur and Author together. Google Docs is hitting me with that little red line letting me know it does not approve of my attempt at creating new words.
Fortunately, I didn’t come up with the term. It’s been floating around the publishing world for some time. What I am going to do is make a case for using it with a straight face. Seriously.
Technology has changed publishing, introducing print-on-demand to cut costs and ecommerce to make selling that book easy. Modern authors don’t have to query agents to get their books published (though that route does still exist). In fact, modern authors are more accurately digital content creators – you do more than just write books. You create emails, social media posts, a website, podcast episodes, YouTube videos, and the list could go on.
Successful authors and creators embrace the entrepreneurial frame of mind, leading directly to our fun made-up word, authorpreneur.
What Is An Authorpreneur?
Simply put, an authorpreneur is an author who thinks and acts like an entrepreneur. That’s someone who is a content maker and a digital marketer. Twenty years ago, there might have been some debate about whether or not authors are entrepreneurs. Today, it’s settled—to be a successful indie author, you need to think and operate like a small business.
Authors have always taken part in their own promotion and advocacy. Even with a well-funded publishing house behind your book, you’d be expected to attend signings, promote yourself on social media, and engage with your audience directly. No amount of work from a publisher or marketing team completely removes the author from the equation.
Because you aren’t just selling your book, you’re selling your brand. You are more than just your content. Think about how you interact with creators online. If you enjoy their YouTube video content, you might give it a Like. But if you like the creator of the video, you subscribe to their channel.
The former is nice, and the latter is how you develop fans who want everything you create.
Being An Author In The Creator Economy
It’s never been easier to create and sell your own work on your own terms. Even before the pandemic made us all want to be content entrepreneurs, the market was growing. According to HubSpot’s data, nearly 30% of content businesses are more than seven years old.
What does that mean for you? First, the focus and consistency you’ve built just by writing a book will serve you well as you turn your book into your business. Building your own content business takes time—you might need to work without seeing the return on that work for many years.
Perhaps more important than patience and persistence is diversity. Last year, ConvertKit polled entrepreneurs to learn more about the burgeoning creator economy. Among a number of interesting facts, they learned that professional creators offer more than four different types of content. While publishing your book might be central to your authorpreneur plans, you probably need to add some additional kinds of content (like courses, podcasts, a blog, or similar) to fully meet your audience’s desires.
Thinking Like An Entrepreneur
Often times the most successful entrepreneurs are also authors or content writers (I’m thinking of the Seth Godins of the world). Writing books is a way for creators to monetize their high-quality content.
Authorpreneurs start from a different place. You know a book will be central to your product. That’s why it’s author-preneur and not entrepre-thor; not just because entreprethor looks awful and sounds worse.
Being an author comes first. Your book is your product. From the content ideas that sparked it to the layout and graphic design that brings your book to life.
So how do you, as an author, go about operating like an entrepreneur? Well, first let’s define a few of the characteristics of an entrepreneur that sets them apart and consider these in light of the authorpreneur.
You Are Your Own Biggest Fan
Self-promotion is a key aspect of all digital marketing. The Internet is a big, big place. Full of things—from videos to music to games to social media. If you want to be seen, you’ve got to stand up and proclaim loudly that you want people to look!
Even great content creators will struggle to gain attention (and sell books) if self-promotion isn’t part of their content strategy. It doesn’t matter how good your book is or how spot-on your observations are; no one consumes content if they can’t find it.
That’s why you need to build a digital platform that you own. When you control the entire experience, you can bring your fans exactly what they want.
I can’t say enough how important flexibility is for entrepreneurs.
Change is inevitable. Your target audience might love long-form content (like blog posts) today, but next year they might be all about short videos (like TikTok posts). You have to be prepared to change the types of content you create to meet your audience’s expectations and desires.
Successful content creators do more than just create content. Because you can easily go down an endless rabbit hole of content creation.
Making more social posts, videos, cover designs, or any piece of content, without knowing what content your audience wants will lead to a lot of wasted effort. This is part of your author business that is going to require leaning into SEO and data-measuring tools. Learning how to interpret and understand your traffic and search engine rankings does take some work, but it will be worth it when the content you do create resonates with your fans.
Data Tracking Resources
- Google Analytics Academy – Free online course from Google to learn their Analytics platform.
- HubSpot Academy – Free training and certification for a variety of marketing and selling topics.
Successful entrepreneurs take risks. There’s no way around it. You can gather all the data in the world, but you’ll still only have an idea of what you should do to be successful.
Strategy, flexibility, and data only get you to a place where you are ready to try something—a marketing plan that is fresh, a book design that appeals to your audience, a new way to approach an old idea—before you can hope to be successful, you must take the risk that you’ll fail.
Entrepreneurs are willing to take those risks and are prepared to fail. They know that failure doesn’t mean the end. It means you need a new strategy, to gather more data, and to adapt your plan to better suit your audience.
Building A Brand Around Your Content
It’s no easy task to plan a manuscript, develop it, write it, edit it, design the book files, create a cover, market your book, publish it, and so on. There’s a lot that goes into making a book.
So you already know how much planning your book requires. You need to put that same effort into your marketing strategy. Becoming a successful author is a business; you need to apply your book-writing skills and develop a business plan to guide you.
As an independent author, you’re in complete control—the place entrepreneurs want to be. I’m not the first to say this and I certainly won’t be the last: successful independent authors must closely resemble entrepreneurs in their approach to promoting and selling their books. And that’s the direction you need to take to find your own success!
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.