The 3+ Hats Every Indie Author Must Wear

by | Apr 22, 2015

By Nina Amir

“Writing is hard. Self-publishing is easy.” I hear these statements all the time, but I think someone—or many people—got these ideas backward.

For writers, writing is easy. Self-publishing can be hard.

You see, writers write. That’s what they do—or you do. Yes, sometimes you get stuck or don’t feel inspired or good enough to write, but, in general, you can write. Admit it.

When it comes to self-publishing your book, though, that’s another story entirely. This task might make you anxious. You may worry that you just can’t do it. It may feel like too big a task—and one you have too few skills to tackle. Indeed, creative types tend to be disinclined toward some of the activities required to publish a book. These include business planning, design, sales, and technology, and that makes these tasks—and self-publishing—feel hard.

You Can’t Just Write

If you want to self-publish, though, you can’t just write. To become an indie publisher you can’t just wear a Writing Hat. You need at least one or two more hats, such as a Business Hat or a Project Manager’s Hat.

Yet, as a writer, you might only own a Writer’s Hat. That might be the only one you want to wear because…well…you only want to write. You feel most comfortable writing, and you don’t want to do the other required tasks you know help a book succeed, like marketing. (That activity requires wearing a Marketer’s Hat.) That’s another reason self-publishing feels hard. The tasks involved in publishing aren’t ones you enjoy.

Try on Some Different Hats

What’s an aspiring indie author to do?

Although you may consider yourself just a writer, in fact, you can be or become anything you like. As I wrote about here, succeeding as an author has much to do with attitude.

Have you ever noticed how people who wear hats have an attitude? Sometimes they choose a particular hat to fit their attitude or to create one—a baseball cap when they are feeling playful, a fedora when they feel dashing, or a sun hat when they feel relaxed, for example.

Adopt this same practice: Choose a hat to help you adopt the attitude you need to help you accomplish a publishing task. Put on your Blogger’s Hat when it’s time to blog. Put on your Publisher’s Hat when it’s time to manage the publication of your book. And wear your Writer’s Hat when it’s time to write.

These hats can be imaginary. You’d be amazed at how well visualizing yourself wearing a specific hat works. In the process, you call up the energy of a person good at that task. Physical hats work well, too—almost better.

Plus, knowing which hats you need to successfully self-publish helps, too. First, this knowledge gives you an overall picture of the self-publishing process and the skills you need to complete it. Second, when you know which hats you need in your “closet,” you can pick and choose the one you need when you need it.

Get comfortable wearing all the hats required to successful self-publish, you’ll discover both writing and self-publishing your book are easy.

Your Publishing Hats

To approach publishing in this manner, you have to know what hats to wear. Let’s take a look at choices, starting with one you wear at the very beginning of the process.

  1. An Ideator’s Hat

    The first task you have as a writer involves ideation. Thus, you must put on an Ideator’s Hat. This hat helps you create the idea for a book. Use it to think up a unique and necessary book targeted at your ideal market—a marketable book idea.

    Coming up with marketable book ideas (the kind of book ideas that sell), involves the third type of hat I will describe (below): A Business Hat. You need this hat often. One idea is not enough if you want to have a career as an author. You need more than one book idea. Bestselling authors typically write many books, and the more books you write, the more books you sell.

    Also, if you want to have a say in your book’s cover design, develop a book marketing plan or find ways to monetize your book, you need more ideas and many types of ideas. You Ideator’s Hat will come in handy for all these tasks.

  2. Writer’s Hat

    You already wear a Writer’s Hat when you do the fun part you know well! Put it on, and write that book you ideated.

    Keep in mind that since you need to write a book your readers want, you still need to have your Business Hat nearby to pop on from time to time (more about this hat below). Plus, you need to follow a sound structure or story line, and this might still require your Ideator’s Hat.

    In general, though, once you know what to write and how you will write it, you wear your Writer’s Hat. And this hat should suffice.

    I suppose while you write you might need a Researcher’s Hat. Or a Storyteller’s Hat. Or even a Detective’s Hat, Killer’s Hat, Guru’s Hat, or Expert’s Hat, depending upon the topic of your book.

  3. Business’s Hat

    The third type of hat you need is a Business Hat. (Stick with me…this when many creative types stop paying attention.) This hat not only comes in handy but also is necessary for almost every step of writing and publishing a successful book. As I mentioned, you want to put it on during at least part of your ideation process to ensure you create a salable book. Then you need it as you create the structure and content for your book if you want to ensure you focus on your reader’s needs and interests and produce a book that fills a hole on the category shelf.

    You most-effectively handle these factors—and more—by producing a business plan for your book, which, of course, requires wearing your Business Hat. This post includes some of the essentials for a book’s business plan, and you can find them all in The Author Training Manual. Wear your Business Hat to perform a market analysis, a competitive analysis, and develop a marketing plan, as well as a plan to monetize your book. Complete all these activities as part of building your business plan.

    While creating your marketing or promotion plan, switch hats! Put on a Marketer’s Hat. You may also need an Online Marketer’s Hat since marketing on the Internet can prove different than marketing offline. Both of these hats helps you build author platform and promote your book. While you are wearing your Marketer’s Hat, you may discover you need a few other hats that relate to marketing and promotion. These include:

    • Speaker’s Hat
    • Teacher’s Hat
    • Blogger’s Hat
    • Media Darling’s Hat

    While you work on your business plan, switch to a Branding Expert’s Hat. Develop your unique selling proposition (USP), determine how you want to be known, and then carry this out with logos, colors, and messaging on your website. That requires that you wear a Webmaster’s or Blogger’s Hat, especially since your blogging provides a way to promote your book (back to the Marketing Hat…).

    Last, but not least, you need to wear a Publisher’s Hat. After all, when you self-publish a book, you open a publishing company. That makes you a publisher. As such, you need to manage your team, which consists of editors, designers, formatters, and possibly promotion and social networking experts, as well as a website developer. For this, you need a Project Manager’s Hat as well.

    Lest you feel confused, all of the hats in this section are, indeed, types of Business Hats.

That’s a lot of hats!

What if the Hat Doesn’t Fit?

I said you needed three but you easily could end up with at least 15 different hats! So get a big hat rack for your office. Wear each hat as the occasion calls for it. Doing so will help you self-publish your book more easily and succeed as an author.

What if you find a hat or two, or three, don’t fit? You just can’t get used to wearing them nor can you adopt that attitude that goes with them. In other words, you don’t want to learn that skill set or you aren’t good at that particular skill. No problem. Hand the hat to someone else, and let him or her wear it. Hire someone to do that job!

And if you hate the feel of a particular hat—or don’t like how you look in it, again, get someone else to wear it for you! Create a publishing team, and only wear the hats you like or need most, such as your Writer’s Hat and your Publisher’s Hat. Or choose assisted self-publishing. This limits the amount of time you wear any hat other than you Writer’s Hat.

Whichever hats you choose to wear to get the job done, when you release your self-published book, you’ll be able to put on a new one: your Successful Author’s Hat. I can guarantee that one will fit you well and feel fabulous!

Nina AmirNina Amir, is a Contributing Writer for TheBookDesigner.com. She is also the author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, and transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs.

You can learn more about Nina here.

 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Amazon links contain my affiliate code.

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6 Comments

  1. Nina Amir

    Thanks, Frances. I didn’t assume everyone would hire tons of people for their team! But to publish a book professionally you at least need a small team–a cover designer and an editor or two. You may also need an interior book designer or a formatter (for digital formats). The book must look and read like it was produced by at traditional publisher. That requires at least a small team.

    Reply
  2. Will Gibson

    As a long time writer, I, of course, enjoy the writer’s hat.

    I really got into book design and with help from a cover designer and an experienced interior formatter, I enjoyed the project manager’s hat. Being in business for myself for many years, I have no trouble wearing a business hat that includes marketing and promotion plans.

    What’s holding me back now is that fear of donning a speaker’s hat.

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      Will,

      You know fear of public speaking is the #1 or #2 fear for most Americans…before death. Seinfeld said it best: Most people would rather be in a coffin than give a eulogy!

      Fear stops most of us from many things. If you can write and speak, you can become a speaker. Speak to the one person in the room who needs to hear what you have to say–there is always at least one. That’s all you need.

      Reply
  3. Leslie Tall Manning

    Well, this is a timely post, Nina, so thank you for sharing it!

    After 15 (yes, that is a “1” and a “5”) years of pounding the pavement with my novels, six of those years with a literary agent as my beacon, many of my books making it to the coveted acquisitions table (close but no cigar), I have finally decided to postpone writing my next book in favor of diving headfirst into the minefield of self-publishing.

    I am excited, terrified, grateful, humbled, frustrated, and above all else, exhausted.

    Writing, though easier than, say, digging ditches all day, is in my blood. To NOT write is what slowly kills the writer. But I put my writing hat on the hook while I guide myself through the trials of self-pubbing. I will not share my to-do list here, as it is longer than some of the chapters of my books. All I know is, doing it all alone IS NOT EASY! It is dreadfully difficult.

    Within three years I hope to have all ten of my novels out in the world. I feel like I am receiving a new college degree each week as I learn about email blasts, book formatting, editing, covers, audio, etc. Though I am nearly fried, I am not complaining. I will keep going. I have dreams, but with those dreams come goals. With goals comes hard work.

    All that said, there are two more hats I’d like to add to your list:
    Therapist’s hat (for positive self-actualization techniques).
    And a Winner’s hat (for the success that will come from all my hard work).
    )

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      Oh, definitely a Therapist’s Hat…or a Coach’s or Cheerleader’s.

      And I did say a Successful Author’s hat. That’s a Winner’s Hat as far as I’m concerned.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  4. Frances Caballo

    Great post, Nina. I love the metaphor of the hats. Wonderful idea to explain the process this way. I think there’s an issue that you may not have addressed, which is that not all Indie authors can afford to have a team. So I think that Indie authors — authorpreneurs — need to decide which hats are necessary to wear, which ones they need to farm out to consultants, and which ones they need to simply hang until they have the time and resources to try it on again. Writing and self-publishing are time-consuming. Blogging, which is a must, is time-consuming. So we must to do what serves our brand and our goals and prioritize these hats. Perhaps there’s a follow-up post here for me to write. There’s an idea!

    Reply

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