I recently attended the graduation ceremony of the Tulsa Community College Launch Flight Program. The ultimate goal is to support entrepreneurs with great ideas build great businesses. The people and their ideas are put through the paces for sixteen weeks to end up with a business plan viable enough to start up or make a pitch to potential investors.
Two years ago I took the Kauffman FastTrac entrepreneur program to develop a plan to self publish my own novels and assist other Oklahoma authors. The Launch Flight ceremony reminded me of one constant for any business, especially self publishing in a world of fast changing technology. As soon as you complete a plan it starts to become outdated. Hard work, continued market research and listening to customers and potential customers never ends.
Being an author-preneur is equally applicable for self published authors and those seeking an agent or publisher. In addition to honing your writing skills and turning out more work, all authors must actively participate in marketing and selling themselves and their projects.
Much of what I initially did to promote myself and my novels before completing FastTrac was based on previous sales and business experience gained since the 1970’s. Traditional publishing experienced a double whammy as the economy slowed in 2009 and the popularity of eBook platforms increased, drastically changing the business forever. However, I still believe this is the best time in history to write and publish.
As an author-preneur you can now publish in ebook and print formats with virtually no up front cost. Using your basic computer skills, or in my case with some assistance, authors are able to format and publish an eBook directly on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Print on demand services allow new or experienced authors to upload a book and have it printed with no setup fees. I use Amazon’s print division Create Space and receive the best pricing in the industry with no minimum order requirement.
Author-preneurs also need peer group review and support. I’m active in four writers groups who very honestly (and lovingly) provide much needed critique of my work. Next, find an English or composition teacher to go through your manuscript with a critical eye. Remember, the first few drafts (or in my case the first several drafts) of anything are crap and you are not capable of properly editing your own writing.
Are you ready to be an author-preneur? If you’re not sure, keep writing and look for an entrepreneur development program in your area. Do you really need a business plan to publish a book? I believe so. Most books only sell a few hundred copies and beating the odds takes more than brilliant writing. I know too many writers who are sitting on great work, waiting for the world to find them. It will never happen until they become an author-preneur by self publishing or being more confident and aggressive than thousands of other authors submitting query letters to agents and publishers every day.