Blogger: Mary Keeley
Experts have posted a horde of prognostication-type articles in the past several weeks. It’s always like this at the beginning of a new year. I’ve read a lot of them, not only those directly associated with publishing but business-related columns too, and although the products may be quite different, certain traits necessary to create them are remarkably similar. It was inevitable that the word author would evolve to authorpreneur as the industry is evolving.
Author Kris Tualla defines an “Authorprenuer” as an author who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets.” I think the term was coined with self- or indie-pub authors in mind, but to a great degree it describes today’s traditionally published authors too.
I consider it part of my job to try to keep up with news and trends and data, but so many projections on topics from e-book usage, subscription services, direct-to-consumer sales, brand building, out-of-the-box marketing ideas, and so on, sent me to brain overload. I thought how overwhelmed authors must feel when, at the same time, you also are working hard to improve your craft and write a book that stands out from all those others in your genre or on your topic.
Like it or not, though, authors must develop business acumen in order to excel at their marketing and promoting responsibilities. We agents recognized our role also has evolved. Guiding clients as they embrace and manage the entrepreneurial, or business, side of their career has become a significant part of our job, so we changed the name of our agency to Books & Such Literary Management last year to reflect the expansion.
We’re always looking for ways to bolster authors for their journey. Those of you who think you have no entrepreneurial traits might be surprised. One of the articles I read offers hope. Ryan Holmes shared interesting perspectives in his post, “7 Unexpected Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur,” which first appeared on LinkedIn and again here on Entrepreneur.com. The first sign he lists is being restless, that is, always looking to the next achievement. Are you a control freak? That trait is shared among some of the most famous entrepreneurs. Introverts, you have no excuse. Larry Page, the founder of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, are introverts. Read the article to learn the other personality traits on Holmes’s list and be inspired. Let the authorpreneur in you burst forth.
How do you see yourself as an authorpreneur? What might restlessness, or always needing a new goal to achieve, look like in an author’s life? If you read Ryan Holmes’s article, which of the personality traits do you recognize in yourself?
Today’s authors are authorpreneurs. Learn more here. Click to Tweet.
With the evolution in publishing come the authorpreneur and the agent-manager. Click to Tweet.
I never described it as “restless,” but I’m always thinking about the next project long before I’m done with the current one. It feels a bit scatterbrained, and I often wish for better focus. It’s comforting to think it is a helpful characteristic; thank you, Mary. Of course, that doesn’t help the quilting project that’s waiting to be framed while I’m quilting the next one and designing yet another one in my head.
And don’t get me started on the multiple writing works in project. On second thought, do get me started!
Shirlee, it sounds like you have authorpreneur running through your veins. Does this reinforce your confidence at you approach the added responsibilities of today authors?
Reinforces my confidence? Undermines my focus? Blows up my to-do list? Increases my heart rate?
All of the above.
But the older I get, the more I understand that ours is a God of just-in-time delivery. If God wills it and I step into it, he will provide what I need when I need it. In the meantime, I try not to obsess over future details. Today has enough details of its own.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Well…I’m pretty much focused on craft right now. When that novella comes out I guess I’m going to be pushed out of the nest. But even though it is the writing I love, I have learned so much from reading writing blogs for this past decade or so. I didn’t realize how much business stuff I’d picked up from agency blogs until I found myself giving branding advice to my husband as he is trying to come up with promotional ideas for the small Bible camp where we live and work. So weird? So, you guys are changing me, bit by bit, to think more like a businesswoman. That in itself is a miracle.
Kristen, I’m with you. I didn’t realize how much I’d learned until I started this second project. Things are so much easier the second time around. The hardest part is pushing myself to dig deeper within.
Kristen Joy Wilks
I know Shelli, isn’t it amazing when you start something fresh and realize that yes indeed you learned something. I’d been revising the same thing for so so so long that I was getting pretty discouraged. But getting pushed to write something new was so good for me. My writing had improved, but I didn’t know it. I’d been stuck revising that same ms. I started back in 03 so I didn’t have a chance to see the improvement in a fresh piece until recently. So glad that you are getting to see your growth in this new ms.
Congratulations, Kristen. Take time to enjoy the growth you see.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Thanks so much Mary. It is encouraging to realize that I am picking up some great stuff from you guys, despite myself.
“You guys are changing me, bit by bit, to think more like a businesswoman.” One hundred times, yes, Kristen!
I loved the article. I loved Barbara Corcoran’s photo advertising her upcoming conference. I loved that he began with Jeff Foxworthy, and the man is not only a comedian, but also an investor. He’s been on Shark Tank a few. He loves Jesus. 🙂
I know I get restless. I feel it. I see it. Insiders say, “You’re doing this and that. That’s great. Accomplished.” Swipe hands. And I start trying to learn how to write fiction. Hand forcefully to forehead, “If I do this successfully … my later years could be a little stressful …. Next project, next project.” Flip side. “And if I do this unsuccessfully, why are you choosing to be a failure.” Ha!
But I love writing. This current project, I could bury myself alive. I’ve honestly missed a breakfast, lunch, or two.
Oh, got tickled at #7, You’re Somewhat Introverted. A close friend always says of the loud: “Being louder doesn’t make you right, just makes you louder.” That always makes me laugh. From the quiet one who loves laughter almost more than breathing.
I do like Foxworthy, and qualify as a redneck.
“When you look out the back window of your truck, if all you see are dogs, you might be a redneck…”
Signed, sealed, delivered.
My cousin used to walk around with dead squirrels hanging from his overall pockets. 🙂 And that was normal.
And you might be a redneck if you’re first car won’t stay cranked to make it down the street. True story. I only worked down the street from my house … maybe two miles. Halfway there, my little car would die. I’d pull over, restart it, and continue on. But, honestly, that didn’t feel normal. 🙂 So, that might not quite constitute me as a redneck. 🙂 But I’m sure I’ve got some other examples.
Dead squirrels! Love it. Reminds me of the story James Herriot told in “All Creatures Great and Small” about his boss, Siegfried, taking some potential ‘horsey toff’ clients to a racecourse.
Siegfried chanced to meet an old friend, and got drunk, abandoning the toffs. When he finally met them at the car, he remarked upon the windshield looking a bit dirty, opened the boot for supplies, and began polishing both the windshield and, he hoped, his tattered reputation.
Herriot said that the effect was somewhat spoilt, because his polishing rag was a dead hen.
Oh, that’s funny, Andrew! Twisted, but funny! 🙂
Good, morning, Mary, from snowy New Mexico, home of Indie the gambling Aussie Shepherd…’gambling’, not ‘gamboling’, because he’s so excited by the snow that he’s nagging his please-let-me-stay-warm sister to play in it. Not a good career choice for Indie. Megan The Tank (she’s big) has a short fuse.
The article is interesting, but I think that it’s got a few problems, and misses some points that are really vital.
First, it speaks to archetypes (restlessness, black sheep, they’ll-think-you’re-crazy, masochist-for-work) that have positive connotations for a large part of the population; this is how we would dream ourselves, striking out alone with the Protestant Work Ethic as our lodestar. Nothing wrong with this, but it invites comparison that may not be valid, and can lead to decisions which result in disappointment.
Second, there are some specifics that are absolutely vital, which are kind of glossed over.
I worked in a couple of entrepreneurial fields (getting grant money in academic research qualifies, and so do some forms of war). So here goes, my take:
* A low Resentment Quotient (RQ). If you tend to resent demands on your time when you’re tired (The dog has to go out AGAIN? Doesn’t he know it’s 0200???), you’ll loathe the demands that running a business makes.
* High tolerance for frustration, because you will see more setbacks that you ever dreamed possible. If assembling a Christmas bicycle (do parents still do that) drives you to distraction, might be best to give the matter more thought.
* Patience, because things usually develop slowly; the overnight success is not a myth, but it’s rare.
* The habit of working ahead to save time. Do you lay out breakfast supplies, clothing, and commute necessities the night before, in the way that you can most efficiently accomplish the mundane tasks of the morning?
* The ability to effectively prioritize tasks according to a fixed timeline.
* Belief in what you’re doing. NOT the I-believe-in-myself, I-am-investing-in-my-own-talents egotism, but a sincere outward-looking view that your product can make a difference.
* The ability to communicate both effectively and persuasively. You can have the most wonderful devotional out there, but if you can’t tell people why it’s good, you may as well go home.
* A strong emotional support system, because you’re going to need it.
* The ability to delegate. Some control freaks are successful, but in my experience it’s been more of a hindrance (in academia they are avoided; in combat they tend to die). It’s far more effective to be able to attract supporters, and reward them, initially, with trust.
Do I have what it takes? A qualified yes; I am pretty good at some of these things, but others need work.
Amazing list, Andrew. And I can’t believe you are getting snow. I’m beginning to think Texas is going to miss the snow this year. We are getting rain. Maybe March will prove promising.
Yes, parents still assemble bikes, swing sets. I’ll never forget assembling our swing set years back. Have mercy! My tiny daughter said, “You just can’t know what you know what you know.” She clearly saw through our frustration!
We’ve had snow twice this year…be glad to send some to you!
One of my more frustrating moments was welding up the frame for the fuselage (‘body’) of a Formula One raceplane, and not realizing that the jig which holds everything in alignment had slipped.
When I was done, it looked beautiful, except that the whole back end drooped about three inches.
After jumping around and going into Tourette’s Mode for a few minutes (VERY helpful, that), I got out my hacksaw and cut the frame so it could be tweaked into the right position. The necessary splices were ugly – but they would be hidden when the airplane was finished. And they would make it just a bit stronger.
The moral – and entrepreneurial – lesson was that There Is Such A Thing As Good Enough. I hated that the frame wasn’t perfect; I’m human.
But it would do the job that was required, and the perfection I sought was more a reflection of the needs of my ego than it was any connection with the view “outside”, where what I had built would live in the real world.
Andrew, very insightful list–and daunting because I can’t say that I’m high on RQ, patience, or tolerance for frustration. In some areas of life, at least. But praise God, He’s always at work in us! Also, I agree with you about the control freak comment. Though inexperienced with this, it seems like working with agents and editors requires authors to trust and let go of some things they might want to hold on to. Especially new writers unaccustomed to the market. And from a spiritual standpoint, control can lead to anxiety and a lack of trust in our heavenly Father. But I’m probably taking that comment too far. I understand Holmes’ point that we need to be proactive in taking charge to get things done.
Good connection to trusting in God!
Proactively taking charge is important, but defining it as ‘control’ may not be right.
It’s far more useful when that habit is expressed in seeing a job and getting it done, because it ha to be done…for example, maybe your husband promised to do the dishes, but hasn’t gotten to it, and so you take care of it yourself.
Without complaint, without making a lot of noise to show that you’re doing it, and without even mentioning it. It’s just done, and you move on.
That covers both the ‘proactively getting things done’ issue, and also, in a way, prioritization. In a case like that, the operative task involves getting the dishes done, and it shouldn’t be ‘married’ to making a moral point.
Andrew, are you saying I shouldn’t grumble when I pick up after my husband? 🙂 Okay. You’re right!
And as a “househusband” I get to say that, and survive. I hope.
We’ve had snow too. Woke up to a beautiful morning and blue, blue skies. 🙂
This is a super list, Andrew. I especially loved what you said in having an accurate belief in what you’re doing.
You’re giving my tired brain good food for thought.
As an unpublished author, I live in the tension of developing the craft–essential–and planning for what the future might look like if I get published. Blogs have been an instrumental component of learning and I appreciate the advice agents share, not only on writing but also the business side.
This was a great article by Holmes and I identified with several of his points. My mind was so restless the other night thinking about possible plots that I paid for it with little sleep.
Thanks for the encouragement, Mary.
I know that restless sleep, Sondra. I’m a good sleeper. But when I first hit the pillow, if I have a scene on my mind, it’s frustration. Turn on the lamp, jot my idea down, turn off the lamp. Turn on the lamp, etc. Or I wake to a lot of scribble I have trouble deciphering! 🙂
For a perspective on perfectionism and entrepreneurship, here’s The Edge of U2, one of the most entrepreneurial bands around…
“U2 albums aren’t finished. They’re just released.”
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
People have asked me, okay, begged me, to open a bakery.
I despise , DESPISE, getting up early. When I was on the West Coast this past October, I was momentarily toying with the idea of impressing people that I was an early rising, deeply spiritual, incredibly devoted person, when really, it was the four hour time zone shift. I was not at my best by dinner time. Frankly, I have very vague memories of most evenings, other than my BFF shaking me awake at 10pm. “Go to bed, you’re drooling on my couch.”
The business side of things SORT OF scares me. But I like to think I’m adaptable enough to learn what I need to and absorb enough to not look like a complete kindergarten drop-out.
I’m not driven to succeed for the sake of success, and I won’t give up my husband and family for a spot on the NYT best seller list.
In the grand scheme of things, I already have all I need.
I am driven to tell a story, and there’s no finite limit to what God has laid out. I’m thankful He’s equipped me with the desire to tell it, and the willingness to learn how to herd all the information into one place to make sense of everything.
I rely on the extremely wise counsel of my agent, for whom I’m a bit of a Thankasaurus when it comes to the blessing of her guidance in my career.
Isn’t it interesting, though, that for a writer, restlessness involves sitting down, and actively engaging the mind, as opposed to the body?
Interesting about the bakery…I thought of opening “The Bikery”, where rival motorcycle clubs could meet for coffee, donuts, and hand-to-hand combat in a friendly, homestyle atmosphere, with trauma kits at every table, and reasonably-priced blood expanders.
Then there was “Give Pizza A Chance”, a “family”-style Italian restaurant where capos could tip their caps at one another.
As you said…Umm, no.
Of course, if you opened “The Bikery” you might want mattress padded walls as well. 😉
That’s hilarious! 🙂 Donut holes are soft rocks to throw, barely glaze you! 🙂
“I’m driven to tell a story” … Amen, sister. Love that. 🙂 The stories of our hearts.
Jennifer, you have adapted to so many new things in your writing journey. Your resilience shows you will have no problem adapting to the business side as well. Besides, when would you have time to be at your best writing if you owned a bakery?
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
The lack of baking has been mentioned in this house several times since I’ve started writing. Bummer for them.
Thank you, Mary. I try to learn as I go. “
What a fascinating article by Ryan Holmes. These personality traits don’t tend to describe me in the larger aspects of my life. But when it comes to writing? Yep. I fit in most of these descriptions. Being a masochist? I have learned to say no to things I like (i.e. coffee with friends, attending a women’s Bible study…..) so I can say yes to time spent writing.
I think one way restlessness may look in a writer’s life is this: I find that after I’ve written a rough draft and I’m in the process of revising and editing, new story ideas seem to jump out at me. I don’t usually start them right away, but in those random moments (usually between being awake and falling asleep) they come front and center in my mind, and I have to write the inspirations down.
Write the inspirations, down. I know that. My writing journals for each project are so pathetic. I wish I had written neatly in them. But there are those times when I’m writing in the dark, just scribble. 🙂 Times when I write quickly, because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m spending too much time on it. 🙂
Mary, thank you for kick-starting our creative juices this morning! (Just the pleasant and informative diversion I needed after dropping a bag of groceries. On the tile. The one with the dozen jumbo eggs in it.)*sigh*
I did recognize myself to a degree in Holmes’s article. I am a bit of an introvert, but writing lights my creative fire.
Over the last several years, I’ve actually learned there’s freedom in stepping out of our comfort zones. I’m passionate about learning, growing, and figuring out new ways to do old things better.
Gone are the days where authors sit on the sidelines and write in a bubble. Much more is demanded now. I’ve found the more I embrace those things I thought I couldn’t do, the happier I am and I want to try even more!
Coffee time, everyone! *clink* (My mug to yours!) 🙂
So much wisdom and positive perspective here, Cynthia. “There’s freedom in stepping out of our comfort zone.” Yes! That’s where anyone with a passion or goal has the space to soar. And, “I’ve found the more I embrace those things I thought I couldn’t do, the happier I am and I want to try even more!” That’s a great recipe for success.
Cynthia … dropping eggs … like the Home Alone scene. You made me smile.
I can smile NOW. But earlier? Hmmm… 🙂
And xoxo backatcha!
Mary, I like #7 in the article. We introverts tend to go deep, skirting what seems to us to be superficial and irrelevant. (Oftentimes, it’s not. It just feels like that.) But that passion, then, fuels us to reach out in whatever means work. Like Kristen, I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying the business part of writing, and I have agents and other writers to thank for the education and the infusion of enthusiasm.
That makes sense, and it’s good to hear you’re enjoying the business part, Meghan. When your creative brain becomes tired or bogged down, switching over to the other side to take care of business can be refreshing and productive. Have fun!
Mickie E Kennedy
So many posts on the ‘indie author’ blog circuit over the past few days have been about emerging e-tools (Trajectory, Amazon’s latest e-textbook publishing platform), and I’m glad someone is finally making a point about indie authors really being small business owners. Authorpreneurs — brilliant!
Great points here. If you write it, you indeed have to promote and brand it, and to do that folks are going to have to hone their skills as marketers. Social media and Google advertising, press releases, book fairs, and blogs are going to have to become very familiar friends.
Yes, yes, and yes, Mickie. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Janet Ann Collins
Mary, I’m delighted to know you’re overwhelmed! I know that’s selfish of me, but it’s so comforting to know I’m not the only one.
Ha! Janet, I think many of us in this industry function in the state of overwhelmed. Take heart; we’re in good company.
Great points, Mary! I find myself drawing on my business degree more than I ever anticipated. And being married to an entrepreneur has opened my eyes to the many similarities. My husband and I both share a dreaming spirit, can-do approach, and understanding of marketing a product or service. It’s hard for us to keep up with each other sometimes! 🙂
Ah, you have a solid business foundation and a husband to brainstorm marketing ideas with. You are blessed!
Mary–good points, but the things you bring up give me nightmares. I don’t have the heart of an entrepreneur. I write. I don’t market. I know, I know…that’s what writers have to do, whether traditionally published or launching out into self-publication. I recognize the change, but (like my hero, OC detective Adrian Monk, if you recall that TV show) I don’t have to like it.
Thanks for an excellent post.
Richard, I do recall that TV show and love Monk’s character 🙂 I hope over time and practice, you’ll find the business side more enjoyable.
Gary Neal Hansen
i think my entrepreneurial streak began to come out with a series of realizations:
1. I love writing, and it is way more fun to develop a book than to keep it all in my journal or even my classroom.
2. To have success in writing professionally, even if not as a full time thing, I need a stronger platform.
3. Building a platform entails writing more (lather, rinse, repeat), and blogging is my best wat to do that– with the free bonus that it helps me develop skills and see projects emerge while growing an audience.
4. Eventually blogging effectively and growing a list costs money for hosting, plugins, themes, mail servers.
So it became evident that I have to make a bit of money from my writing to sustain the writing that will enable future writing.
That and the now-clear sense that the blessing of a traditional publisher is help in bringing books that embody my own mission out to readers who need them. The point here is that it is my mission more than anyone else’s so my responsibility, so in need of my entrepreneurial energy.
Every authorpreneur should know the common types of essays. This is a must to achieve a good results.
Mary, I am overjoyed to hear that you are completely taken aback! It’s slime rancher 2 selfish of me, I know, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
age of war
It’s nice to come back to your blog after a long time. Well, I’ve been waiting so long for this article. I need this article to finish my college assignment, which is about the same subject as yours