Authorpreneur: it’s a portmanteau—a combination of words—of “author” and “entrepreneur.”
You may encounter this new term elsewhere on the internet, whether from authors in the blogosphere or profile headlines on LinkedIn. You may even find the word too cheesy, or you may find yourself describing yourself as an authorpreneur.
No matter your feelings, I still advise you to take to heart the concepts that inspired someone out there to coin “authorpreneur.” If you want to make a career from self-publishing books, you must embody both sides: the author and the entrepreneur.
The “-preneur” in “Authorpreneur”
Let’s first look at the definition of entrepreneur, as defined by Investopedia: “an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards.”
When a writer enters self-publishing to make money, that’s entrepreneurship. It’s an individual endeavor in that an author (or occasionally a small group of coauthors) is not only responsible for writing the book but also producing and selling it.
This contrasts with traditional publishing, where an author collaborates with a company to release a book. An entrepreneur may sometimes run a publishing house, but the author wouldn’t be the entrepreneur.
Then there’s the business part, which I find especially important. When self-publishing, you’re in charge of either undertaking or delegating all the business decisions of bookselling. You must choose the cover and layout design. You must find printers and distributors. You must handle marketing and publicity. You even must do your taxes as both the employee and the employer.
In all, if you want to make money from self-publishing a book, you must run the publishing process as a business.
And finally, an entrepreneur is defined by one’s risk. In entrepreneurship, one does not simply walk away from the venture but instead invests significant time and money into a mission that they believe in.
Few self-published authors ever make a significant profit off their books. So instead of choosing a more stable and reliable career, they’ve decided to follow their passion and dedicate a substantial portion of their lives to publishing books. In return, the self-published author enjoys the prime share of rewards in the form of larger royalties than one would obtain through a traditional publishing deal, not to mention the accomplishment of handling every step of publication.
This investment—emotionally, in one sense—brings us back to authorship.
Putting the “Author” Back into “Authorpreneur”
Many aspiring authors hesitate to embrace the business part of publishing because they fear that it would take the creativity out of writing.
This fear is understandable. Acknowledging it will help you preserve that creative spark. Some business folks see bookselling as solely a profit generator, and it would be a dismal world if publishing were only about the money. Most books are written by authors who never expected to profit.
Yet, there are many reasons published authors decide to choose writing as a business. It’s because you believe in your writing!
When you decide to publish your book, you’re telling the world that your book is so valuable that it needs to be shared.
There wouldn’t be a need to put a price on your book in an ideal world. In our imperfect world, it’s how you can support yourself, feeding yourself and giving you the means to write even more. Some authors can only publish books because the proceeds make it possible, even if it’s just enough pocket change to cover some of the costs. In that light, it’s understandable you’d make a business out of authorship.
And think about it from the perspective of the reader. While a bookstore customer may have to pay money for your book, that same customer also enjoys that book and has a better day because of it. You’re mutually benefiting from the arrangement. And if a reader can’t buy your book, there are other ways for you to be compensated, such as getting your books into libraries or classrooms. It’s not selfish to want compensation, especially if you follow the professional standards required for a successful book.
I’ll always insist on treating publishing seriously as a business. Still, I will believe that the authorship is why the publishing business exists as a business in the first place.
With that in mind, you may be more convinced by the value of thinking yourself an “authorpreneur”—or you may still find the word an abomination of the English language.
Regardless, I wish you well in your author career.
Over to you: What do you think of the concept of the authorpreneur? How accurately (or inaccurately) does it describe your writing career?
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.