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June 7, 2016

Are You Ready to Be an Entrepreneur? — Guest: Renee Regent

Serious woman at a laptop with text: Are You an Entrepreneur?

For the next two weeks, I’ll (hopefully) be able to survive my various health issues and enjoy a vacation. Wish me luck. *smile*

In the meantime, I have a couple of regular guest posters along with a couple of new guest posters stopping by to fill in for me. I hope you’ll all help them feel welcome while I’m internet-less in the middle of nowhere. *tries not to panic*

One common complaint about being a modern writer is that we’re expected to do so much that we struggle to find time to write. Even if we’re traditionally published, publishers no longer do most of the marketing (or many other things) for us.

We might have started down the writing path because we had this wonderful image of it being a perfect career for introverts, what with all the quiet contemplation in a mountain-top log cabin. (Or was that just me? *grin*) But that’s not the reality.

No matter how we publish, no one will ever care about our career as much as we do. Not our writer-friends, not our agent, not our editors. We must take control of our writing career.

So that means—even if we’re traditionally published—we should pay attention to many aspects of entrepreneurship. Yes, even if it gives our little introvert-heart hives.

Today, Renee Regent, who has owned several start-up businesses, is here to talk about the entrepreneurial side of being a writer. Her tips apply to self-published and traditionally published authors alike, and she’s sharing encouragement that might help the introverts among us.

Please welcome Renee Regent! *smile*

*****

The New Breed of Author- Entrepreneurs

A “cottage industry” is often described as one in which the labor force is comprised of individuals or family members, working primarily from home.  The term pertains to small and informally organized industries in which there are significant numbers of people independently producing the same or similar products.

That certainly sounds like the state of Indie publishing, doesn’t it?

Indie Entrepreneurs

In the past few years, more and more authors are choosing the self-publishing or “Indie” route for getting their books to market. Other businesses supporting them have emerged, such as cover artists, editors, formatters, and book marketing services, to name a few.

The vast majority of these are run by entrepreneurs, small business owners who have a passion for books and publishing. While some may embrace the idea of being an entrepreneur in this new era of do-it-yourself publishing and jump into it with gusto, others may be reluctant, or even fearful of running their own business.

Even if all they have in mind is publishing their own books, and no other related services, the prospect of starting a publishing-related business can seem daunting when one is just starting out.

Can Introverts Be Entrepreneurs Too?

Also, many writers (and other creatives, too) are introverts, who may be uncomfortable with the idea of having to sell themselves, market their products, and all the other tasks of starting and operating a business.

However, being an introvert can be a significant asset. Just ask Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet. Yes, some of the most successful people in the business world describe themselves as introverts, so it should not be a barrier when it comes to entrepreneurship.

Author and professional coach Beth L. Buelow wrote an excellent book, The Introvert Entrepreneur, which explores how introverts can succeed as business owners, using the skills most introverts naturally possess. Her website is also a trove of helpful information. I reviewed the book in more detail in a recent post on my blog, because I found it not only fascinating but inspiring.

Who’s the Boss? You!

Being your own boss is one of the riskiest things you can do in life, but it can also be the most rewarding. If you are considering becoming an author-entrepreneur, here are three things that will help you to get started:

Tip #1: Do Your Research

Find out what other author and/or publishing-related entrepreneurs are doing. The internet is filled with blogs and websites full of information on how to do anything and everything connected with the business side of writing.

Ask around on social media or other forums for feedback. Research will help you determine your interests, so you can decide which tasks you might do yourself and which you may outsource to others.

Be cautious, though, of any business which promises to do everything for you, for a price. It may sound like an easy solution, but there are several scams and predatory businesses preying on the unsuspecting and uninformed.

Check with Editors and Predators or Writer Beware websites before using any unknown service provider.

Tip #2: Write Out Your Business Plan

I know this sounds like a classroom assignment, but it doesn’t have to be formal unless you want it to be. The goal is to get an idea ahead of time of what you want to accomplish so your goals can be broken down into reachable steps.

  • Do you only want to write books?
  • How many can you write and/or publish in a year?
  • Do you want to be an author with a side business, such as editing or cover design?

Deciding what you want to accomplish short term and long term will determine the scope of your ambitions.

Tip#3: Set a Budget

Your research should have given you an idea of the costs of self-publishing, i.e., editing, cover design, formatting, marketing, etc. Once you have ballpark figure of what it will cost to produce and market your product, you can determine what you are willing or able to spend on each part of the process.

Then you can decide how much to spend on professional help, and which tasks you can do on your own. Some authors help each other out by trading services, too, so if that is an option available to you, figure that into your overall plan.

Expect the Unexpected

As is true in any new business (I have owned several start-ups throughout my career), the only thing you can count on is the unexpected. Having a business plan and goals in mind helps tremendously, but be prepared to change course or tweak your plans, your vision, and your budget when necessary.

As you progress, there will be other aspects to deal with, such as taxes, accounting, marketing, and hiring others to assist in growing your empire. That’s too much information to include in this post, but there are many great resources online to help with researching those subjects as well.

The good news is, you can start small and add to your business as you go. This is not the case when opening a retail business or a restaurant, for example. The start-up costs and time required for an Indie publishing business are relatively low. Of course, that also means it may take longer to achieve success.

The Risks

There are definitely risks in becoming your own boss, especially in Indie publishing. You alone are responsible for the success of your product and all aspects of your business. Even though you may contract out editing, cover design, etc., you have the final say.

Having responsibility for everything from start to finish means you have to research, decide on, and execute all aspects of your product. It takes time, energy and resources on an ongoing basis.

You also have to have some sort of presence on social media, because building a platform of followers and contacts is essential to marketing an online-based business.

Not everyone can or should take on the workload and the emotional toll of being an entrepreneur. But if you do, having a support network of family and friends is vital, because you need someone to vent to, to bounce ideas off of, and to brainstorm with.

Working in a vacuum all alone is not only limiting but can drain the joy of entrepreneurship in a hurry. Having someone to talk things over with, even if all they do is listen, can help keep you going when the unexpected problem or other frustrations hit.

The Rewards

But the good news is, being your own boss can also be incredibly rewarding, in a way no other venture can. If your product is successful, you alone get to reap the rewards.

The sense of accomplishment you get from seeing success from your own creation can be deeply satisfying. Having the freedom to choose your course, being in control of your product, and the power to move toward your vision at your own pace…for some, those are the rewards that come whether the product is profitable or not.

Because when you are in charge, there’s always tomorrow to try again.

*****

Renee RegentRenee Regent spent most of her life writing for business, but never lost her love of writing stories, especially science fiction, romance, and fantasy. She’s always been fascinated with the science of how the universe works, but equally entranced by the unexplained. Being an incurable romantic, she now writes stories about the power of love, with a supernatural twist. Her stories feature psychics, witches, ghosts, and ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

Renee, a California native, lives in Atlanta with her husband, three cats and four turtles. When not working or writing, she can be found sitting on her deck enjoying nature. Wine may or may not be involved…

Visit Renee on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest

She’s currently editing 3 books at once
and will be releasing them soon!

*****

Thank you, Renee! I think it’s a great idea to re-frame our understanding of being a writer in the modern world to being an entrepreneur.

Yes, self-published authors have more to worry about, but none of us get to escape these concerns. Even if we traditionally publish, we still should:

  • research our options (every few months, an industry article tells us about yet another small publisher going out of business or not paying their authors, and then there are rights grabs or non-compete clauses in our contracts to worry about, etc.),
  • have a plan for our publishing goals, and
  • decide on a budget for marketing (such as swag or additional advertising, blog tours, etc.)

And no matter how we publish, we have to deal with the hassle of taxes and accounting, and we’ll be responsible for much of the marketing. (I think I need to pick up that The Introvert Entrepreneur book for ideas on how to market in ways that will work for me. *grin*)

But as Renee said, when we take charge of our career, the rewards belong to us. We get the satisfaction of accomplishing something that most people only dream about. *smile*

Do you disagree with the idea that authors are entrepreneurs? Do you think of yourself as an entrepreneur? Does that perspective scare you, and if so, why—is it an introvert thing? What steps can you take (or what strengths can you bring) to help you along the entrepreneurial path? Do you have any questions for Renee?

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What do you think?

8 Comments on "Are You Ready to Be an Entrepreneur? — Guest: Renee Regent"

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Davonne Burns

This has been a struggle for me, which I find odd since my degree is in business management. lol I found that having an actual business plan has been one of the key things keeping me moving forward with my writing, as odd as that may sound.

Thanks for the great reminders!!!

Renee Regent

Davonne, you are welcome! Sometimes having book knowledge is not the same as having experience. When you put the two together, though, it definitely helps! Good luck in your endeavors.

Taurean J Watkins
As you know, Jami, this is a real sore spot for me, and I won’t rehash what either of us already know about my situation. I will say that given my having to buy back my contract for the only book I’ve ever sold, I don’t feel all that confident to do it all on my own, I couldn’t have afforded my editor out of pocket three years ago, even now it’d be out of my reach. That’s just for ONE BOOK. I stress that to put it perspective when we’re talking about authors who frankly have way more than one book in them. Sometimes I feel people put so much emphasis on the control you have being indie, they’re blind (or at least come off that way) to the upfront finances involved, and that’s LONG BEFORE we think about taxes in our business and being fortunate to hire employees to help us. I know you’ve said we can find tons of free resources to learn this stuff, but applying what you learn to your situation is another story entirely, and too many people leave that out of the equation. Maybe the problem for me is that I have a jaded sense of entrepreneurship. I just got burnt out of it all. Just because I took a break from publishing, doesn’t mean the pressure to “Be my own boss” has gone away. I don’t want to be negative. But I can’t lie either. I’m scared. I’m angry. I just want… Read more »
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