Post #143 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Business – Matilda Butler
Long Before You Have Finished Your Memoir, Begin to Prepare for the Authorpreneur Phase
You work hard on your memoir. It takes years to write one that you’ll consider ready for publication. You probably just want to set off fireworks as soon as you have finished. Then send your baby out into the world and an adoring public will shower you with praise (and maybe fame and money).
Then reality sets in. You know you should do something about building an audience for your book, but who has time for that? Besides, you may not feel comfortable in that role.
Think again. To begin, you probably need to know more about that role. Maybe you will like it since it isn’t as scary as it seems. Want to know what successful authors think about becoming authorpreneurs? Then I have a book for you. Actually two books and one you can borrow on your Kindle through Amazon’s lending library at NO COST (or purchase for just $2.99). Then once you read the tips in the Kindle book, you may be ready for the paperback with its in-depth look at what 15 authors have done.
I’ll share a few of these tips with you at the end of this article. For now, let me tell you about the pair of books — one published in paperback last week on August 6 and the other published as an ebook earlier this year. The paperback version is called Will the R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur Please Stand Up?: A Collection of Inspirational Stories Celebrating R.E.A.L. Authorpreneurs More than a year ago, Sharon Jenkins invited me to contribute a chapter about being an authorpreneur. Sharon, a bestselling author, is the founder of Master Communicator’s Writing Services and is the mastermind behind an aural Authors Networking Summit, American’s Favorite Author Competition, and Houston’s Favorite Author Competition. She’s a woman with a great deal of experience both as an author and as someone who helps other authors.
Let me begin with the table of contents.
Chapter 1–Joel Friedlander, On Becoming an Authorpreneur
Chapter 2–Matilda Butler, You Can Become an Authorpreneur…Really
Chapter 3–Brian W. Smith, Authorpreneurship: I Did It My Way
Chapter 4–Sharon Norris Elliot, Multi-faceted Authorpreneur
Chapter 5–W. Terry Whalin, Always Learning
Chapter 6–Tyora Moody, The Literary Entrepreneur’s Journey Begins Now
Chapter 7–Rochelle Carter, Authorpreneurship Unleashed
Chapter 8–Nina Amir, Inspiration to Creation
Chapter 9–Tom Blubaugh, Tips from a Russian Writing Maverick
Chapter 10–Kachelle Kelly, Dream, Pray, Hustle Your Way to Authorpreneurship
Chapter 11–Carla R. Cannon, Your Pain Has Purpose
Chapter 12–Roxana Heredia, Bridging the Language Divide
Chapter 13–Shelley R. Roth, Social Media: The Heartbeat of an Authorpreneur
Chapter 14–Melanie Bragg, Maximize Your Author Experience
Chapter 15–Sharon C. Jenkins, The Portrait of a R.E.A.L Authorpreneur
These are great chapter titles that hint at the diverse approaches to merging the roles of author and entrepreneur. In other words, it is doable and can be done in many ways. You just need to find approaches that suit you, your skills and creative talents.
And remember. No one can do everything. You need to find the activities that you can enjoy doing and then dig in.
And Just in Case You Thought…
By now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that all publishers expect authors to do marketing. Even well-known authors go on book tours and show up at author conferences. As a new or newer author you will have to take on all, or almost all, of the tasks associated with marketing and selling your memoir. These tasks, varied though they may be, fall under the general concept of an authorpreneur.
It is work, but it was also work to write your memoir. However, marketing can also be fun. It draws on your various creative talents and allows you to shape the ways you approach the marketing opportunities. There is no right or wrong way to do this. That’s why Sharon Jenkins’ book is such a gem. It lets you sample a number of ways that 15 authors have used to grow their authored book or books into a business. Then you can pick and choose what might help you and put together your own style of being an authorpreneur.
An EBook with Specific Tips to Use as an Authorpreneur
You know how writers are. We love to write. Consequently many of us gave Sharon chapters that were too long. What’s the compiler to do? Fortunately, Sharon spotted that many of us concluded our contributions with list of points, or tips, to help other writers as they move into what may be a new role for them.
Sharon put these tips, actually 81 of them, into their own ebook, which is available through Amazon. The ebook has the same overall title and a different subtitle — (Will the R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur Please Stand Up?: 81 Tips for the R.E.A.L. Successful Authorpreneur). This ebook is just $2.99 if purchased or is available FREE through Amazon’s lending library program.
Brilliant. Sharon found an easy way to shorten our chapters and she ended up with a second book filled with 81 valuable tips. Right away you can tell that she is more than an author, she’s an authorpreneur. Here are four of my nine tips that Sharon included in the ebook:
1. Find a Role Model. Find several role models. Read how others view the role of successful author and what they do. Get to know one or two authorpreneurs via long distance or locally. You’ll be surprised at how helpful they will be. Even little suggestions like having an Amazon Associate account (free) means you can make additional money when someone buys your book through your Amazon link. That’s right. As an associate/affiliate, you get a link to your book with your unique code. Each time someone purchases your book through that link, you get several percentage points in addition to royalties (Amazon’s percentage varies but usually starts at four percent on books). You might as well get as much from each sale as you can. Ask questions and explore options with other authorpreneurs.
2. Stretch yourself. You’ll need an enlarged skill set that goes beyond writing. You already have one knowledge cluster of plot, story structure, essential elements of character, emotion, dialogue, sensory detail, time/place, etc. Now you need a second knowledge cluster for your idea and creativity business including the four Ps (product, price, place, promotion), social media outreach, platform building, and more.
Be willing to move outside your comfort zone. For example, I recently set up a small chroma key green screen studio so that I could make higher quality videos to go along with Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep. My earlier videos have been quite successful but it is time to up my skill level.
Always be willing to ask “Why?” and “What if?” This pair of questions creates a valuable filter on what you consider doing.
3. Start Small, End Big. You cannot do everything at once. Just as you have writing goals, you also need to have clear marketing goals. As mentioned above, ideally you start writing and building your marketing platform at the same time. Reality, of course, quickly sets in and you may have a finished book before you begin marketing. It isn’t too late. However, if you are still writing, I urge you to begin developing and and then implementing your marketing plan.
4. Consider Unique Products to Give Your Book Legs. Kendra and I were lucky to have the idea for Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandanas and associated products that went along with our collective memoir of women born during World War II–Rosie’s Daughters: The First Woman to Generation Tells Its Story, Second Edition. If we hadn’t worked through those Rosie the Riveter products, I don’t think we would have come up with the idea for memoir writing products (sold in a second etsy.com store that focuses on writing) including Storymap: The Neverending Writing Prompt, gift baskets for writers, handcrafted teas, and inspirational mugs. Maybe your follow-on products turn out to be workbooks, or videos, or additional series. Be open to many ideas, but be willing to rigorously think through the implications. And definitely remember #3 above — Start Small, End Big. Our first order for Rosie Bandanas was just 20. If no one bought them, we would have been out a just a small amount of money. We now sell multiple thousands per year.
Sharon Jenkins’ book of tips also include these additional ones from me: Be Strategic, Be Persistent, You Are Your Brand, Reach Out and Help Others.
“And What is a R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur?” You Ask
I thought I’d ask Sharon to explain that to you since it is her concept.
SHARON JENKINS: Thanks Matilda. R.E.A.L. stands for the author who sees that the publishing landscape has changed and that in order to be successful, a person needs to be:
MATILDA: Sharon, that explains the initials in the book’s title. But can you tell my readers more about these four concepts?
SHARON: Absolutely, Matilda. It’s the meaning behind these words that brings vitality to the concept.
Relevant–The worst thing an aspiring author can say is that “they don’t read much.” What? To be a relevant author, you must know what is going on in your industry and genre. It is critical for writers to be well-read, or they will find that their books completely miss the mark on any ideas they they are trying to express. Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction/memoir, you should know your industry and those who are successful in the craft you crave.
Here’s what I mean by the word Entrepreneurial. In addition to remaining relevant through reading, authors must remain relevant through training. Every entrepreneur invests in their business and seeks out the latest information and the newest trends, studying to show themselves approved. Authorpreneurs put their entrepreneurial hat on, develop Book Business Plans™ and marketing plans, and devise a publishing strategy to ensure their success.
This next part separates authors from authorpreneurs. Action-Oriented. Real authorpreneurs are not simply data gatherers–they are doers. Matilda, every story in this new book is based on one thing: action. Knowledge without action is useless and produces zero results. Action steps take a career to the next level. That’s one of the points that each of the authors in my book address. It’s part of what makes their stories so fascinating.
And finally, Literary-focused. This should be a given for any aspiring or seasoned writer, so this is a simple reminder. Perfect your craft. Study your writing style. Read. Give back to the literary community whenever your can.
MATILDA: Thanks Sharon. You’ve given my readers a lot to think about. I am sure they will gain a great deal by reading both of your books based on R.E.A.L.