How to Turn from a Writer into a Writer-Entrepreneur
Being a writer-entrepreneur means one thing: you write for a living – and you’re succeeding at it. Note that we are not talking about commercial success, movie deals for your novel, but the kind of success that allows you to do what you love and be comfortable and not worry about bills.
If you’re holding down a day job it doesn’t mean that you’re not a writer-entrepreneur. Every author today has to be an entrepreneur, or at least, have the mindset of an entrepreneur in order to keep their book business afloat. So, having a day job doesn’t mean that you’re not a writer and that you cannot be a writer-entrepreneur. It just means that you might need to outsource some tasks – especially if you’re not familiar with them.
The most common definition of entrepreneur goes something like this:
A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
And below, we will analyze what it means to be a writer-entrepreneur.
1. You write for the readers
There are a lot of reasons why writers write. Some writers need to write down a story before it eats them from the inside, other writers want to have something to be proud of, others do it due to creativity, and a million other reasons. But the million other reasons all revolve around the writer.
The truth is, a successful writer-entrepreneur knows that he or she writes for the readers.
That’s the reason why the first advice you get on how to get published, or how to grow your readership, is to research your audience and deliver what they want. Because a writer-entrepreneur knows that if he or she doesn’t deliver what the audience wants to read, the audience will find another writer that actually does that.
So you might scoff at trends, and you might turn your head to the side and tell yourself that you’re not going to go with the flow but make your own. And that’s all well and good, but let’s take a look at one thing.
Twilight brought the paranormal writers – but how many other writers succeeded because readers wanted more vampires among their shelves?
How many books with magic schools got the spotlight because readers wished for a different Harry Potter?
So the stark truth is that if you wish to be a successful writer-entrepreneur, you need to find out what the readers want – and then give it to them on a silver platter.
2. Focus on promotion and marketing
As previously mentioned, if you don’t give the readers what they want, they will find another author who does that.
In fact, another author is already doing that – giving the readers what they want. They’ve created a fan base, i.e. readers who follow them on social media and who are always ready to read what the author has written. They send out newsletters, spend time each week asking readers what they want, and have a very positive and forthcoming relationship with said readers.
The reason why we are bringing this up is to put an emphasis on the importance of marketing and promotion. Your stories and novels and books, they need to be seen – on social media, and every other place you can think of. Otherwise, you don’t have a platform, and as such, you don’t have much to go on.
But, you must begin somewhere. Researching your audience is step one. Step two is delivering what they want. Step three?
Let your intended audience know that you have something to offer to them.
3. You write fast – and then faster
Once you’ve discovered what the readers want and began delivering it to them, comes the golden period where you’re making a living as a writer, and have dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s of being an entrepreneur.
And at this point, you will understand the need for speed.
You will write fast and good to deliver what the readers want, and then you will go even faster.
This is not news. There are prolific writers who churn out bestsellers every few weeks. Yes, every few weeks, and they’re best-sellers. They are best-sellers for two reasons:
- An existing fan base ready to buy the book.
- An existing fan base incredibly happy with the writing, characters, and story.
The second one is a lot more important than the first time. You might churn out three, five, or seven books a year, and you might have a fan base. But if four out of the five novels you’ve published do not meet the readers’ expectations, you will not be able to do the same thing next year. Your fan base might have dwindled.
4. Define what success means for you
We’ve mentioned the word “success” several times, but the truth is, that word probably has a different meaning for you.
Like the reasons why we write, the word success has a different meaning to different authors.
What does success mean for you? When will you be able to say, “I achieved this and that?”
Are you going for a literary prize, or pleasing an audience?
Do you measure your success in financial gain from your books, or is success a heartfelt letter (okay, email, this is the digital world after all) from a fan you’ve never met?
Or, is success all of the above?
There is no right definition of success, so we are not going to offer one here. We will, however, put an emphasis on you discovering what success means for you. Once you’ve done it – you have a goal. You have a starting point on what you want to achieve. The rest is finding the way.
5. Explore every option and possibility
Beyond achieving your goals, the word success implies the real mind-set of an entrepreneur.
It’s exploring every option and possibility to achieve many things you didn’t even think you wanted.
It’s about keeping your definition of success mutable and changeable, and when you achieve one goal, set another. Work on different avenues on different goals altogether.
It’s about not giving up. It’s about taking risks to achieve greater things.
Each time a writer publishes a piece of work: a blog post, an article, a story, a novel, a novella, anything – the writer is putting himself or herself out there. The readers can read and judge, like and dislike.
And writers have found ways of putting themselves out there in different ways. Think about your novel, your brand, your genre, and look for every avenue that you can explore. If you sell e-books, can you sell audiobooks? Should you have your books translated into different languages to tap into foreign markets?
A writer can be an entrepreneur in many different ways. Once you accept the mind-set and use all of your resources, you will achieve your own version of success, as long as you’re determined.
Also published on Medium.