I firmly believe that book publishing, like any other business, needs to be shaken by a revolution from time to time. The five most momentous revolutions in the history of human communication are the invention of speech, the invention of writing, Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in the fifteenth century, the creation of computers in the twentieth century, and the introduction of the entrepreneurial publishing model in the twenty-first century.
You are writing books, getting them published, and promoting them while publishing is in the throes of the most profound yet promising upheaval in its two-hundred-year history. Experts predict that business will change more in the next five years than it has in the last five hundred.
Now is an amazing time to be alive. Capitalism, competition, consolidation, technology, and the globalization of culture and commerce are accelerating the transformation of civilization.
We are on a wildly exhilarating ride into an impossible-to predict future.
Nobody’s in charge of the vessel, and no one knows where it’s going, so hang on tight and enjoy the ride.
Here are six tactics to thinking like an entrepreneurial author.
1. Think new.
Try to come up with fresh ideas that haven’t been done before. People like to try new things. New ideas can excite people more than ideas that have been done before, even if they were successful. If you and your networks can’t dream up something new, use your creativity to give old ideas a new twist.
2. Think inclusively.
Create ways to bring people together in a way so enjoyable they will tell friends about it before and after the event.
3. Think big.
Look at the promotional opportunities your books create with the same breadth of vision you use to look at your books in the largest possible way. Then pare your ideas down to what you can accomplish. Promotion, like politics, is the art of the possible.
4. Think ideas through.
Balance the time and energy you need to execute ideas against the potential gain in sales and publicity.
5. Think of a way out.
Set benchmarks in time and energy to see if you’re making the progress you need to make an idea worth implementing. If in the course of trying to follow through on an idea, you become convinced that the payoff won’t justify the effort, let it go and move on to the next idea.
6. Think of ways to be a giving enterprise, not just a taking one.
Make a virtue of commerce by helping your community while you promote your book. Schools, libraries, and charities always welcome help raising funds. You will feel better about your efforts and so will others involved with them. And the media is more likely to cover a charity event than a purely commercial one.
One reason now is such a great time to be a writer is that you can use the books you love and the authors you admire as models for creating your books and your career.
You can bring your vision, passion, and creativity to promotion—your unique ability to do the same things differently and better than they’ve been done before.
One way to know you’re succeeding: Other authors use your ideas.
The more skills and interests you have, the more possibilities they will create for promoting your books—so develop your skills, knowledge, and creativity as much as you can in as many fields as you can. They will serve you well.