Why do you write? Most authors have a story they must tell, whether fiction or not. Others want to entertain or make people laugh. Some are more penurious: having found a market need, they developed a formulaic writing product specifically for making money (the Chicken Soup series). A few may write just to see their byline.
For me, there is no simple answer. When I walked the Camino de Santiago I met many adventurous and inspiring women. I had to tell their stories, but I also wanted to entertain and inform. Seeing my byline for the first time was not a motivation to write, but it did fill me with a sense of accomplishment. Money was also not a prime motivator, but the monthly royalty deposits are rewards for my hard work.
Based on my earnings from this one book, I need to write at least ten equally profitable books to make a living…or one exceptional book that makes it off the charts. As an authorpreneur, an entrepreneurial writer, the decision on what to write next depends on careful analysis. Am I targeting the right market? What is my marketing plan? What is my competition and how will my product place among similar products.
“Whoa!” you say, “This sounds too much like business and not like writing.” Let me rephrase the analysis. Ask yourself
- Who are my current readers (current target market)?
- Would these readers buy a second book—a sequel or one with a similar theme—or are there too many similar books (market saturation)?
- How will I promote the book (marketing plan)?
- How is my book ranking in the categories listed (my competition)?
- Would writing in a different genre improve my success (a new product line), or
- Should I keep the genre but target a different type of reader (market analysis)?
Can you see what I am getting at when I suggest becoming an authorpreneur? Looking at your writing from a business perspective can give you the clarity you need to make sound decisions.
Even with careful analysis and stellar writing, you need continued vigilance to ensure your success. Like corporate executives who are always looking at the bottom line, you need to stay alert. Are your sales dipping? If so, what can you do to reverse the decline?
Listen to your readers and reviewers. Are you giving them what they need? Did you misjudge what those needs were? When Pepsi changed its formula after a consumer taste test, its sales soared. Getting your readers involved can help you zone into success. Developing a stellar social presence can help provide that feedback as well as help promote reader interest. (More about this in the upcoming series “The ABCs for Developing a Stellar Social Presence.”).
Businesses who do not heed the warnings or jump at the opportunities never go far. By taking a business approach to writing, you can more readily identify a direction of change you may not have conceived of using a strictly writer’s mentality.