Saturday, September 19, 2015

Being a Boss: The Author Publisher

Earlier this week I saw a video of Dame Dash talking about the mentality behind being an entrepreneur. I was inspired to the point where I summoned my Native American roots, did a rain dance, and jumped in the puddles once the rain came down. His words really hit home for me providing a Polaroid picture of where I am trying to go. The biggest difference being that he worked in the music industry, and I am trying to break into the writing / publishing industry. So how do I apply this apple to this orange? Do I use Elmer's Wood Glue or Duct Tape?

Background Information

The video I am referring to talks about taking pride in owning what you do and working for yourself. Within the music industry many of the musicians refer to it as 'being a boss', but many of them do not practice what they talk about in their songs. Being a boss means that you control and have ownership over what you create. If you are going to spend the majority of your time and energy on something then you should reap the benefits of your work. There are many benefits to working for yourself. You can't be fired. You can give a friend or family member an opportunity to work whenever you feel like it. You have the power to fix the problems that you see every day in the process. You can pass it on to your children if you so desire or sell it. This is a powerful concept that most people do not think about when they go to work every day. Think about how much more motivated you would be if you worked for yourself.

The Business

As an author you are already facing an uphill climb. There are millions of books already out there, but you're not just competing against them. You have to compete against everything else out there that could distract or otherwise take up your reader's time. You're competing against TV shows, Movies, nice weather, shiny things, ceiling fans on low, etc.. It's much harder than the music industry where songs can played as background noise in nearly any other activity including reading.

The reality is that most overnight successes take place over a much longer period of time than what you would expect. If you look into it, many authors have five or eight or maybe even a dozen or more books out before they find that bit of stinky gourmet cheese they call success. It's a long haul that requires dedication and hard work. Even then there is no guarantee. You need a business plan to make it all work. A plan like "Step 1: Write Books Step 2: ??? Step 3: Collect the Monies" is not going to work.

This is where publishing and promotion comes into it. Going the traditional path is always an option, and I don't fault anyone for taking that route. If it works for you, great let's throw a party! Taking that route gives the publisher all of the power. Complaining about what they do with it is not going to help since you have sold your work to the publisher. That traditional publisher becomes your customer, which means you have to cater to them rather than readers or following the story in your heart. This is an example of working for the interests of someone else rather than working for yourself. That publisher could drop you, decide to hold off on publishing, or put your work out of print at any moment. They could decide to make edits that change your story to be a slug's struggle to get across a table covered in salt. Nothing you can do about it.

Applying Apples To Oranges

So how do we apply this concept of being a boss to the business of being a writer? Self publishing is the short answer. You become an author and publisher, or you can just take the 'and' portion out of that statement. Becoming an Author Publisher gives you complete control over how everything will be done. It's a lot of responsibility, but you also reap all the benefits of your work.

Accepting responsibility for everything is a daunting task, but don't fret. It's not time to go hide out in the bomb shelter yet. There is help out there. The digital revolution has provided a plethora of independent freelance workers who are eager to help provide editing services, graphic design, website design, chocolate, coffee, and so on. The possibilities are endless if you have the capital to get set up.

If you don't have the funds for the initial setup then I have good news for you. You can do it all yourself. It takes forever and a day to go this route, but if you have to go this way then you have to. There are tons of free tools to help you with graphics. There are writer communities where you can get free editing if you make friends and ask nicely. I usually try to trade not shooting them in the face with a confetti cannon in exchange for their services. That hasn't worked for me yet for some reason.

No matter what your situation is you can become an Author Publisher. There are many paths that you can take towards this goal, but the benefits are the same for everyone who takes this route. If you find that golden nugget of success then you may find yourself at a point where you can negotiate from a position of power with traditional publishers. You can negotiate a better deal with an adequate advance and reversion language that makes sense for you. This is the path toward becoming a successful hybrid author that I see working for many people, and I'm hoping will someday work for me as well.

This is just one of many reasons I am self publishing. Know that for me the story comes first. I love writing and wouldn't be putting myself through this torture if I didn't. Please share your thoughts, your feelings, your love for the poop emoji, or anything else in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

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