Looking for updates? Subscribe to our newsletter

Authorpreneurs and VC Publishers

Posted in: Understanding Publishing on August 5, 2014 Leave your thoughts 💬

The Wannabes

I was listening to Joanna Penn talk at an Apple event in Covent Garden a few days ago, and I was surprised that the sentence she repeated the most was: “Writing is hard! It’s extremely hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

I immediately drew a parallel to starting a company. Everyone knows it’s hard, but keeps forgetting it. Why? Because, technically, anyone can do it. You sit down and write. You fill out a form and incorporate your company. No special skills required.

What does that mean? Well, you end up with thousands of “wannabes”. The I’ll-write-someday-you’ll-see-ers, the I’ve-had-this-great-startup-idea-for-awhile-and-I’m-working-on-it-ers. I don’t have the numbers, but I guess less than 10% of these “wannabes” become authors, or entrepreneurs.

The Authorpreneurs

This took me back to an article by the same Joanna Penn that I read a few weeks ago: The Arc Of The Indie Author Journey. From First Book To CEO Of Your Global Media Empire. Penn writes: “You don’t have to know everything now. You can learn on the job. We all have to. None of us are born with the knowledge of how to do these things – we just find out along the way.” That’s what I do every day at Reedsy. I learn along the way.

Indie authors are entrepreneurs in addition to being authors. This is what makes independent authorship particularly difficult, and definitely thrilling for some. “Taking control” is a dream for many; some are even incredibly good at it. But success takes a lot of self-discipline, a business mentality, boldness and a natural (or very well-trained) ability to promote yourself.

Oh, and money. Editing and cover art, if done well, are not cheap (nor should they be). So either you keep your day job for a while, or you try your luck on Kickstarter (the former is highly recommended).

That’s a lot of requirements. The good thing is, if you’re committed, you “learn along the way”. But what if you’re not? What if you just want to write?

The Future of traditional publishing

If you don’t have an entrepreneurial mentality, you don’t start your company and you don’t self-publish. It’s as simple as that. Many people don’t want to take control, don’t want to have to choose their editor, cover designer, publicist, etc. They excel at writing, and at that only.

In my opinion, that’s what publishers are (or should be?) for. Not to pin down those who want to fly with their own wings, but to help those who can’t.

If we keep the parallel to entrepreneurship, we can consider that a few decades ago, it was impossible to start your own company without a lot of money. You shopped your idea around until you found a partner to finance your operation and in return you gave up a hefty majority of your company’s equity. Only as technology has advanced, most startups are able to prove their concept with almost $0. You can raise millions in the early stages of your company without giving massive chunks of equity away.

The emergence of self-publishing is a very similar phenomenon. Technology has lowered the barrier to entry, and authors are able to “show traction” (i.e., sell thousands of books) without support from publishers.

You can only ask 80% of a company when the company has no choice. Today, startups and authors have a choice.

But let’s be honest. These successful “indies” would sell ten times more if they had a publisher backing them and opening bookstores to them. Hugh Howey and the whole self-publishing community know it. Publishers are slow to realize it.

Some are starting to offer print-only deals. Some others offer 50% net royalties instead of 25%. “Exceptions”, some might say. Well, the future is made of today’s exceptions.


We’re also on Twitter!  Follow Ricardo and Reedsy!

Leave a Reply

  Subscribe  
Notify of
Continue reading

Recommended posts from the Reedsy Blog

What is Line Editing, and What Can It Do For Your Book? (With Examples!)

What is Line Editing, and What Can It Do For Your Book? (With Examples!)

Whether you're dashing off a note to a colleague or listing your bike for sale on Craigslist, your writing could always use a second pair of eyes. But what is line editing specifically? A tool …

Read article
How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps

How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps

A starving writer stands in front of a mailbox, clutching a hefty brown envelope addressed to a publishing company. They say a prayer, push their manuscript in, and begin the long wait for a reply …

Read article
The Complete Guide to Ebook Distribution

The Complete Guide to Ebook Distribution

[Last updated: 05/14/2019]At Reedsy, our goal has always been to help authors through every stage of the publishing process, from the actual writing down to the marketing and promotion. However, if there's one thing our …

Read article
What is Proofreading? And Can You Do It Yourself?

What is Proofreading? And Can You Do It Yourself?

Whether you’re a student, a mechanic, a doctor, or a professional writer, you’ve probably come across proofreading in some form or another — though you might not be aware of it. So much of the …

Read article
IngramSpark Review: Don't Use Until You Read This + PROMO CODE!

IngramSpark Review: Don't Use Until You Read This + PROMO CODE!

IngramSpark, KDP Print, Lulu, BookBaby — there is no shortage of companies out there promising to help you publish and sell your print books and ebooks. Luckily, if you’re struggling over which platform to use, …

Read article
CreateSpace is DEAD. Here's what you need to know.

CreateSpace is DEAD. Here's what you need to know.

As all writers know, the process of self-publishing a book is ever-fluctuating and evolving. Case in point: CreateSpace, one of the premier print-on-demand (POD) services for self-published authors, recently merged with Amazon’s KDP Print in …

Read article
×
Free Course: How to Self-Publish a Book