As I was putting together my thoughts for a keynote appearance in Indianapolis, I began to think about the steps that brought me this incredible point in time. Simply put, I wrote a book. However, there is so much more hiding in the details.
Anyone writing a book today has many more opportunities to get their content in front of an audience than ever before. Traditional publishers still provide a solid foundation to anyone who lands a deal — contrary to what many information sources might lead one to believe.
Outlets like Amazon’s Kindle Direct and Lulu also provide writers with the ability to create and publish a physical or electronic volume. That means anyone who has written a book can get it into the public’s hands for a fairly small investment.
Other publishing possibilities also exist, such as partnerships with independent publishing houses (like I have for Stories of Elders). Indie publishers are often willing to take on newer authors and can provide them with a great foundation from which to launch a successful book and writing career.
Each of these has its pros and cons, but there is one important ingredient a book needs to become a success that crosses all of these paths and is often overlooked. It is something that I believe made it possible for me to research and write my book, fundraise on Kickstarter, find a publisher, manage the project, and garner the publicity it deserves.
Today, whether you self-publish, find a traditional publisher, or work with an Indie company, writing a book means being involved in almost every aspect of the project from start to finish.
So many people believe that a traditional publisher will grab the book from the writer’s hands while the proverbial ink is still wet and ship millions of copies to waiting bookstores around the world while the writer lounges by the pool waiting for royalty checks.
Not so much.
The “if you build it, they will come” mentality may have worked in 2000, before the advent of eReaders and self-publishing. Today, billions of books are readily available to everyone, everywhere, many provided free online. Unless your book is put in their direct path, your potential reader will never know it exists.
Today’s writer must be a marketer, speaker, designer, and any of the other pieces of the puzzle that make up the Entrepreneurial Author. If you build it, you must then get to work making sure the reader can easily find it, will desire it, and can buy a copy in the format they choose. Even the largest publishing houses won’t do this for you.
As a serial entrepreneur, I truly feel that my decade of business building ensured that I was equipped for the tasks required to write and distribute my book. Looking back, I can easily see how so much of my business and networking experiences directly impacted my ability to get the project done. Entrepreneurship basically made this book.
My path to becoming an Entrepreneurial Author began while running my tech company. While building the business I learned to manage projects, write copy, and build websites, all of which were important skills during and after the writing and editing process.
My entrepreneurial experiences empowered me to build the website for Stories of Elders, create a podcast of the interviews in the book, and syndicate the episodes to iTunes and Google Play. My design background meant that I had the vision to guide the book cover design, branding for my website, and any printed materials as well.
In the early days of my tech company, I spent a lot of time in coworking spaces making valuable connections with people who were busy with their own startup businesses. Many of those people had used Kickstarter to raise their first round of funding, and their knowledge was pivotal in my Kickstarter success (which I write about in detail here), as did my experience with online marketing.
The networking skills I learned as an entrepreneur helped me to find the people I needed to interview for Stories of Elders, and eventually led me to the publisher I am working with now. Without having been through the development and day to day management of my own company, I may not have completed and published my book.
If you want to write a book, you need to think of it as a business venture and approach the project with an entrepreneurial mindset. You must be willing and able to take on any of the tasks required, especially marketing your book — and yourself. This means being honest with yourself about the tools in your toolbox, and reaching out to others who can help where you cannot.
Although the process may be easier if you have your own entrepreneurial background, surrounding yourself with knowledgeable, experienced entrepreneurs can help provide the necessary knowledge and experiences needed to do the job.
Don’t be afraid to write your book. Just start with some careful planning and don’t take the process lightly. Approach the project not only as a writer, but as an Entrepreneurial Author as well.