If an author approached writing a book the way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business, she would reap success with book publishing comparable to an informed entrepreneur’s success with business startup.
Many storytellers encounter the writing process in high school and college, and were taught the three stages of the storyteller’s timeline: the pre-writing stage, the writing stage and the post-writing stage. Though these stages are still present within the digital publishing timeline, they have evolved considerably.
The Pre-Writing Stage
The pre-writing process starts with your vision for your book. It’s a good idea to create a vision statement for your book project, just as you would if you were creating a business. Remember, in the age of independent publishing, writing and publishing a book is a business venture.
Publishing a book involves creating the product, that is, writing the book. It also involves selling the book, that is, marketing and distributing the book. For self-published authors, it means that the responsibility for getting your book to your audience and getting the word out about your book falls one hundred percent on you. But even authors who publish with ‘traditional’ publishing houses need to engage in marketing their books as well, since publishing houses do not actually go out of their way to promote new authors the way they used to.
Try to envision your writing project from the point at which you conceive the idea you wish to share with your readers, to the point at which your book is hot off the press, as they say, to the point at which you’re a highly acclaimed, best-selling author.
What is vision? It is allowing myself to perceive with my inner eye that which my inner being pours into my conscious awareness about my future. I believe that my soul already knows where I’m heading.
Actually, my life’s journey may have been pre-planned, because it seems as if I was born with all the particulars of my journey mapped into my heart. My vision for my life is simply me allowing my inner being the freedom to acknowledge the map. I allow myself to see with my inner eye all that I was born to be and to do.
Holding my vision of my life and my business requires that I dismiss any suggestion of limitation made by others bogged down in their own fears.
Of course, the way is hard and dangerous, and that’s precisely why it’s worthwhile. It is highly unpredictable. Unsafe. I will not be comfortable most of the time. The eyes with which I survey my exterior world may not see more than what’s at arm’s length before me. But the long view is not the purview of my eyes of materiality. The long view belongs to my eyes of my interior.
There are times when I think that the gap between my outer and inner vision is so great I may never get to where I want to be, and then I remind myself of how valuable, how priceless is the way.
What is a vision statement? A vision statement captures the big picture of the storyteller’s strategy for her complete works as far into the future as she can see, and situates the strategy within the overarching philosophy which frames her work. Create Your Vision Statement.
Crafting your vision statement provides you with the insights you need to create your mission statement.
Start up your business. There are three good reasons to start up a business when you decide to become an author entrepreneur. The first reason is to have a framework for converting your story or narrative into a commercial product which you sell and make money, because selling books is not your only revenue stream. Selling books is not even your primary revenue stream. Apart from book sales, many writers engage in several types of commercial activity which create multiple revenue streams for them.
For example, many authors offer authorial services to other storytellers, or work one-on-one with them to help them navigate the independent publishing process. Some use the information in their books to establish themselves as authorities in their fields of endeavour, to set up profitable online courses, or to embark on lucrative speaking engagements. Others create various products from their books, such as games, and benefit from the creation of feature films, docudramas and documentaries.
Another reason to set up a business is to have an imprint name when you upload your manuscripts to CreateSpace or the publisher of your choice, and when you purchase your International Standard Book Number (ISBN). A third reason is that is just makes good sense to do so if you will be creating revenue for yourself.
If your vision is to operate as a solo author entrepreneur, it might be a good idea to register your business as a sole proprietorship, which is a one-person business in which the business and its owner are treated as a single entity. It’s the simplest and least expensive structure to establish. If you live in the USA, the income you make from your book sales and related activities are reported on your own federal tax return, Form 1040, Schedule C. Tax rates for a sole proprietorship are the lowest of the business structures. It’s a good idea at this stage to do an online search to discover how to set up a sole proprietorship in your jurisdiction.
If you wish to operate your storytelling business under a name different from your own, file a trade name or a DBA (doing business as) name. Whatever name you choose, it should be an original name, and not one claimed by any other business.
If you wish to create a product from your book, such as a training course or a program that adds value to digital storytelling community, and you need to work with like-minded storytellers in partnerships or teams, it may make better sense to register your business as a partnership. If you wish to become a full time writer and earn a significant income from your craft, you might want to register as an LLC. If there’s an activist component to your book, that is, if you’ve espoused a cause, it might be wise to register as a non-profit. In Barbados, information for setting up a business with the structures identified above, as well as information about copyright and intellectual property can be found at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office.
Important pre-writing activities include:
Setting Financial Goals
Estimating your start-up costs
Creating a business model
Raising capital for a publishing business through collective financial empowerment strategies such as isusu, collective investing or crowdfunding, or applying for a writing grant
Research your genre, research your niche
Research and create an audience profile (demographics and psychographics)
This is also a good time to craft a competitive personal profile, and research what every storyteller needs to know about copyright.
The Writing Timeline: The NEW Writing Process
Because the marketplace has become more complex – meaning that apart from our core writing process, there are other essential types of writing we must produce in order to garner success in our endeavour – a writer’s craft must be diverse, that is, we need to be able to write for several platforms and audiences. This is the special challenge we must take up now, because our audience has become incredibly diverse.
Because the environment in which we work as writers is more complex than it has even been, we’re challenged to a greater extent than we’ve ever been, and this is a good thing, because out of the complexity has emerged a set of tools for managing the complexity. You could say that the complex writing and publishing environment has become so self-aware it actually gives us the tools to survive in it.
Access to these tools is no altruistic gesture, however. There’s a great deal of self interest here. There’s big money in it for the developers of these tools, and for the most part, their eyes are on the money. For the storyteller, use of the tools facilitate visibility, and visibility is critical to the writer’s success. Without it, we achieve nothing. Use of the tools also supports adjunct industries like SaaS (software as a service) industries, which include marketing/PR firms, website builders, developers of writing software etc. The writer practicing her craft is an essential entity in this environment. You could say we’re the glue holding everything together.
However, though we as storytellers are very much integrated into the environment as essential practitioners, and as such, much solicited practitioners, especially if we bring a range of skills to the table, we must also stand outside of the environment. This is because of our special role, or role in potential, since various writers define their roles differently. Essentially, we must be in the environment, but not of it, because the environment is rabidly exploitative. This finely-tuned balancing act is one we should try to learn because learning it is the foundation upon which our mastery of writing is built. For mastery does not just mean knowing how to use the tools, but, more importantly, how to dominate the marketplace – flood it with our presence and ideas, preferably ideas which strip it of its pretences and false consciousness. Sounds radical, I know. Calls for a certain amount of confidence that we’re actually practising our calling. And yes, it’s a calling.
Mastery of writing combines superior writing skills with a command of the technology by which the word ignites the marketplace. By mastery I mean being able to intuitively express what my readers feel, almost as if I had read their thoughts.
I don’t buy into the received wisdom of the marketplace that my ‘content’, as they call it, should be geared toward what the marketplace wants. Rather, I believe that what I write should serve the higher purpose of enlightenment. We all really need some light right now.
The Post-Writing Timeline
This stage is of greater importance than the actual writing of your book, for the actions you perform will determine the extent to which your writing efforts bear fruit. At this stage, you would have your manuscript edited and proofread, and have it formatted for print, ebook, audio.
Working with Amazon and CreateSpace
There is an emerging publishing model exemplified by Amazon.com which works essentially with independent authors. Amazon can create the product – the book – through their publishing entity CreateSpace and they can also distribute it through their very extensive channels, including their online search engine/bookstore.
Set up your engagement platform
To set up a self-hosted Word Press blog/site with a custom domain name, go to wpbeginner.com
Set up your Pressbooks account
Pressbooks is free software, developed within the open source GitHub community. It is a book content management and book production system which exports your manuscripts in the following formats: MOBI format for Kindle ebooks; ePub format for all other ebookstores; XML formats; PDF for print-ready print on demand books.
An ePub is the industry standard format for ebooks. The ePub format is reflowable, so that your text looks good on a tablet, smartphone or any e-reader.
You can upload your book to Amazon KDP, KOBO Writing Life and the Apple ibook store. You can distribute your book through Smashwords, Amazon and Ingram Spark.
You can write your books directly into Pressbooks or import your manuscript into the software. Choose a book design theme and export into the file format of your choice.
Pressbooks is not a distributor. You own your book and all the exported files and can distribute wherever you like. Pressbooks does, offer a book printing service.
Pressbooks offers step-by-step instructions for creating an account and managing your content. Go to http://guide.pressbooks.com/
Set up your Inbox – Email is the foundation of your author entrepreneur business.
Create your email list
Create a free report or free ebook
Compose your ads which include a variety of content
Design your opt in page
Create a transition page
Before you build your platform, engage in an extended period of social listening – tuning into the environment to understand what is being said and how it’s being said and working out how you intend to make a contribution to the discourse.
I recommend social listening in order to avoid the temptation to just drop into the discourses and say what everyone else is saying. This is a kind of buy-in that may seem practical, but which in truth does nothing but bury the writer deep within the herd, and as writers, we want to stand out by cultivating our own voices in the marketplace. We should never be afraid to cultivate our own unique voices, for cultivating our own voice is the beginning of mastery.
But building your book and putting it in the store is only the first stage. You also need to connect with your audience. This is the time to be connecting with that audience through setting up your social media platform in order to brand your book through social channels. You should also begin to consider how you would brand your book using special events.