What Makes an Authorpreneur? I Tell My Story

by Joel Friedlander on July 27, 2015 · 5 comments

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Last year author and entrepreneurial publisher Sharon Jenkins asked me to participate in a book she wanted to publish for authors thinking about making the leap to indie publishing.

I was happy to oblige. After all, helping writers become authors and then make the leap to marketers, is one of the primary goals of my writing, blogging, speaking, and product creation.

And I know full well that it’s not a simple or risk-free thing to do. It can be scary and test us to our limits.

In this interview from Sharon’s book, Will the R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur Please Stand Up?: 81 Tips for the R.E.A.L. Successful Authorpreneur, I tell the story of my own trip from book designer to writer to blogger to entrepreneur.

There are contributions included from many successful authorpreneurs, like Nina Amir, Rochelle Carter, and Terry Whalin, to name a few.

On my journey there were a lot of missteps, but maybe by reading my story you’ll be better able to avoid those on your own journey.

Here’s the interview, in a slightly edited version:

Where did you get your start as an authorpreneur?

Growing up as the son of a printer instilled an early love in me for type fonts and their use through the art of typography and its practical expression in the graphic arts.

There were huge catalogs from the American Type Foundry around our house, and I spent many happy hours looking at all the different ways the same words could be typeset to produce radically different looks for different uses.

Although I didn’t have in my family a model for how to be an entrepreneur, at some point I started to wonder how I could make a difference in the world. I developed a love for writing, and eventually, for books themselves.

This started a lifelong love affair with book publishing and the graphic arts. Since I’m also a writer, it was inevitable that these two streams would eventually converge. On the one hand, wanting to make a contribution, and on the other, my interest in book publishing.

In a sense, I was following the same path that many self-publishing authors had traveled before me. Before the introduction of print on demand and ebook publishing, virtually every self-publisher was an entrepreneur of one kind or another.

You had to be an “authorpreneur” (although I don’t think that term came into fashion until quite recently) in order to be a self-publisher. For a long time, there were only three paths open if you wanted to publish a book:

  1. Submit your manuscript to agents or editors and try to obtain a publishing contract with a traditional publisher
  2. Contract with a “vanity” publisher (we now call these “subsidy” publishers) who would publish your book for a hefty fee
  3. Start your own publishing company, hire the vendors you need, and publish the book yourself

Getting Started in Self-Publishing

It was within this context that I first started self-publishing.

At the time I had access to some specialized information that would be of great interest to a small population of potential book buyers. (See “Body Types” in the right sidebar.) Since I was working in the publishing industry at the time, I was keenly aware that a book with a very small potential readership simply was not of interest to publishers.

Since I knew all the people I would need—typesetters, book printers, proofreaders, and so on—I decided to start a company to publish my books.

I soon found that book publishing was a perfect amalgam of these two impulses that drove me:

  1. the authorial impulse to write and share what I knew,
  2. the entrepreneurial impulse to create something new in the world, and to bring these books to as many readers as possible.

I formed Globe Press Books and the rest of my career flowed from that initial decision.

Where are you now as an authorpreneur?
[click to keep reading…]

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