What Does It Mean To Be An Authorpreneur?

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Byte the Book member, Heather O’Connell, teaches the Authorpreneur short course at City, University of London and knows all about the importance of turning writing into business…

Do you dream of being a writer, you know full time, without the distractions of that annoying day job? Have you made a plan? Have you been frantically beavering away on your first book or have you had one published and still have that annoying day job?

Each year we see the average author’s earnings fall a little more and we hear rumours of ‘other skills’ we will need to snag that lucrative publishing deal or take the leap and successfully self-publish.

And with every new innovation or article it seems more difficult to achieve the dream. We need to be a have a head for business, be PR and marketing whizzes, and be all over social media… oh, and find time to write. We need to be an Authorpreneur not just an author.

For many of us the very idea is enough to have us running back to our writing sheds and coffee shops but succeeding in the modern landscape isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Yes, you will be a portmanteau but you don’t suddenly have to start wearing power suits and killer heels, you just need to think like an entrepreneur and an author.

And that is easier than you might think. We are already imaginative, creative and determined, no one ever finished a book without determination. That’s at least half the battle.

And the rest? Well that’s a mixture of understanding the industry and ourselves, knowing what needs to be done, and deciding what you want and can do and finding other people to do the rest…

Follow my top ten tips for becoming an authorpreneur and you’ll be one step closer to making your writing a business:

  1. Think like a publisher not a writer: stop thinking about the work and start thinking about the market for your work.
  2. Know what you want to achieve: to succeed you need to be clear about your aims. Do you want to publish for pleasure, become a best seller, or publish to further your existing business?
  3. Now find out what you need to do to achieve these aims.
  4. Examine your strengths and weaknesses. Understand which elements you can do and which you can’t. Then find experts who can help you fill in the gaps.
  5. Be realistic: set achievable goals and pace yourself.
  6. Build your platform to reach your target audience.
  7. Understand your USP. What is special/interesting about you? Why will people buy your book and not another one in the same genre/on the same subject?
  8. Know the market. Understand who will buy your book and get to know them.
  9. Know where your readers hang out – which social media do they use etc?
  10. Have fun! Writing’s a lonely business, and starting up on your own can be hard. All the more reason to enjoy what you’re doing when you can!

For more information on Heather, have a look at her Byte the Book Hub entry. You can find out more about the Authorpreneur course here. Classes start on the 2nd May 2017.

What students of the Authorpreneur course say:

‘City’s Authorpreneur course provides perceptive, up-to-date and actionable insights into today’s publishing world from someone with real in-depth experience of the industry. The participants were working in widely different areas which meant the sessions covered a very broad spectrum of book types. Heather’s realistic no-nonsense approach made us all think about what we were doing as well as supplying a huge range of ideas on how we could do it better and what other options might be worth pursuing. Challenging and great fun.’ Peter Kelly, 2016

‘Heather is a brilliant tutor and very knowledgeable about the industry, so it was well worth the time and investment in this course. Very engaging experience; I learned a lot and enjoyed meeting others with similar interests.’ Tania Diggory, 2016

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