Do you want to be an author? Many people still desire to author a book. Yet, more people are questioning the profitability of an author's career nowadays.
The truth is that most authors will not sell more than 500 books. Typically, their book stops selling after their family and friends have already bought it. The reality is that many authors do not have a following, which will halt the sales of their book.
An engaged following is crucial to the success of an author's book. Although, if your book does not sell 5,000 copies, it does not mean that you should surrender as a failure.
This is why the author needs to become entrepreneurial if they want long-term success. Once the author starts thinking like an entrepreneur, he/she eventually becomes an authorpreneur.
What is an authorpreneur? It is an entrepreneur that offers products and services that are based on their book(s).
A Wall Street Journal bestselling author can teach others authors about how their book can make the list too.
Alternatively, a health author can sell their health coaching service as a supplement to the book.
I consider myself an authorpreneur. In my book, Reaching the Finish Line, I offer flexible career paths to ease the transition to becoming a full-time entrepreneur.
As a result of the book, I offer personal consultations and a monthly coaching program for those who wish to go beyond the content of the book. Regardless of your book, you can create products and services that supplement your book.
There are three paths that you should consider to become a successful authorpreneur. There is a path for everybody. The sensible way is to choose the path that falls within your capacity.
1. Traditional Publisher
Many people desire a traditional publisher because of their international distribution in physical bookstores.
It can be even more important if your intent is to target an American or German audience.
92% of American university students and 95% of German students prefer print books over ebooks, as discovered in a recent international study.
This study is quite encouraging if your plan is to get your book in all the big box stores, airports, and major bookstores.
Although, it is worth noting that traditional publishers will not do a lot of marketing for your book. However, their network of connections can open up an abundant amount of opportunities for you. With those connections, you can partner with some cool organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Amtrak and JetBlue.
It is these partnerships that can help you sell more books and attract potential clients.
2. Independent Publisher
More people are learning that they can make more money with their books elsewhere. Some aspiring and struggling authors do not care about the fame, but rather on making a sustainable living as an author.
Independent publishers offer an advantage -- better terms. They do not offer the typical terms that you will get from a traditional publisher (10% royalty for print books and 25% royalty for ebooks and audiobooks).
Independent publishers also offer the convenience of allowing you to keep the rights to your book. Often, with a traditional publisher, you commit to an agreement for a duration of five to seven years.
The only potential disadvantage that may dissuade authors is the book advance. Some independent publishers offer a small book advance, usually between $2,000 to $5,000. However, some others will not offer any book advance, especially if they are a small press or new publisher.
As an indie author, you will make more money from your books, but you will not have the privilege of leveraging a major publisher's connections. While your indie publisher may have a network of connections, it is likely that it will not be enough for you to be dependent on them.
Moreover, you will have more success working with indie bookstores than the commercial counterparts like Barnes & Noble.
You should also consider partnering with local businesses and nonprofit organizations. It can be harder to form alliances with the national ones if they do not know your brand. However, local businesses and nonprofits are significantly easier because they are more likely to work with local residents. After all, you and they share a common objective, which is making a difference in your community.
These types of partnerships can open up opportunities to sell more books and attract potential clients.
Self-publishing is without a doubt the easiest way to publish a book. Before there was the book platforms (like Amazon, Kobo, Nook and iBooks) and aggregators (like Smashwords, Draft2Digital and Pronoun), the majority of people were limited to publishing with Author House, Xlibris or iUniverse.
These publishers are commonly known as print on demand publishers. Fifteen years ago, publishing with one of these companies was not a bad idea. Now, today's technology has made it easier to publish, and distribute your book through various eBook platforms.
If you truly want to be the publisher, you will need to use your own international standard book number (or ISBN). You can register the name of your publishing company with this number.
Alternatively, you can use an ISBN from the company that will be helping you publish your book. However, that company will become the default publisher (i.e. CreateSpace, Ingram Spark, Smashwords or Draft2Digital).
The distinct advantage as a self-published author is that you will make the most money in comparison to other authors. You can make a net royalty of up to $6 per ebook and $7.50 per paperback book.
Conversely, the main disadvantage is that there will be no publisher to pay you a book advance. Why? Well, you would be the publisher, hence the name, self-published.
Besides the higher profits, you will also endure the other advantages and disadvantages of indie authorpreneurs.
The Final Word
The truth is that few authors are making over $100,000 a year from just writing books. If you want to make an annual six or seven figure salary, you have to create products and services that are based on your books.
Do you want to be an authorpreneur? Well, first you need to write a book. When will you start writing your book?
This article originally appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine.