Now That I Have to Be An “Author Entrepreneur”, Should I Self-Publish My Memoir?

“If you want to work on your art, work on your life.” Chekkov

My head is still spinning from the 2012 Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC.While I left feeling very inspired to keep writing, I also realize  that  once I publish my book, I will need to transition from being a writer to being an “author entrepreneur.” Writing my book is just the beginning. At some point I will have to figure out a way to get my book out there so the readers I have been writing for can get their hands on it.

The main buzz at the conference  was the non-negotiable fact that if I want to write and sell a book, I have to think of myself as a business. It’s a whole new mindset. Writers are artists so this concept feels strange and uncomfortable at first.

 I am now required to be an “author entrepreneur.”

Photo Credit:"Louis Trying to Act Business-Like" by txcajunstorm uploaded from Flickr

In case you’re wondering what that means, here’s a great article on the key characteristics of being an entrepreneur:having that gut feeling to know when something is right or not.”

But the choices are mind-boggling for a new writer: e-publish? hardcover? paperback?traditional? Once again, I turn to the experts for direction and have found the following links to be very useful:

Dan Blank of WeGrowMedia offers a course Build Your Author Platform to help you become an author entrepreneur and build your platform. Trust me, it is well-worth the investment. Thinking of yourself as a business is non-negotiable  in this current publishing environment.We need to learn it and do it.

In this interview with Jonathan Field,author of Uncertainty:Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance on her blog Write Nonfiction NOW!,Nina Amir,author of How To Blog A Book explores Best Book Marketing Practices with Jonathan: You need to treat a career as an author as a business,creating what you love while observing what people like to consume.”

The website:Publishing a Book is an Adventure addresses e-publishing options available to writers. Here’s an interesting article on why publishers are less optimistic about eBooks’ future now than last year. Even so “people always appreciate getting carried away by a story that takes many hours to get through,and storytelling will always find a way to seep in new technologies.”

For all things publishing, Jane Friedman features a weekly column,Writing on the Ether by former CNN columnist Porter Anderson on her blog, Being Human at Electric Speed.It’s the most current information on publishing that you’ll find in one place, presented in an entertaining and engaging way.

Literary agent,Rachelle Gardner gives her thoughts on deciding about using an Indie E-book Publisher,citing that “you need to ask a lot of questions and stay the course. If acceptance by a traditional publisher is important to you,then keep trying.”

NY Times Best-Selling multi-published author,Bob Mayer, has strong feelings about the publishing industry today in this Write It Forward blog post:”Authors produce the product.Readers consume the product. Everyone else:Lead,Follow or Get the Hell Out of the Way.”  He also talks about “defeating the forces of darkness” as it relates to publishing today.

Joanna Penn offers an excellent free e-book, Author 2.0 Blueprint  which walks you through the publishing process. You can download it from her blog,The Creative Penn. Let’s face it, we all need a map to find our way through the current publishing maze.

In case you are feeling a bit discouraged, I leave you with this upbeat post by Christina Katz (the writermama), author of Build Your Author Platform:A Self-study Workbook(latest among others) and writing coachThere has never been a better time to be a writer because of the increased choices for how to publish which requires discipline,focus and clarity.”

There’s a lot to sort out here so I decided to call on two successful self-published authors (“indie-authors”) to describe their self-publishing successes.

Photo Credit:"Sorting Through Various Pieces" by E.Bartholomew uploaded from Flickr

Boyd Lemon, is the author of Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His  Marriages and Eat,Walk and Write :An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany. Here is my review of Digging Deep on Amazon.

Rebecca Bricker, is the author of Tales from Tavanti:An American Woman’s Mid-Life Adventure in Italy Here is my review on Amazon.

For the next few weeks, Boyd and Rebecca will be featured on Memoir Writer’s Journey. I encourage you to post any questions or concerns you may have in the comments below so Boyd and Rebecca can address them.I’m looking forward to your questions and the discussion so we can all learn from one another.

My first question is did you seek legal assistance in the self-publishing process? Also,one of the biggest concerns about self-publishing either a paperback or e-book or both is how do we insure the quality of the product ? what advice do you have about the editorial process?

Bonus: There will be random drawings for book give-aways for all three books: Digging Deep;Eat,Walk and Write and Tales from Tavanti.  If your name is chosen from the comment section, you will be contacted via e-mail for your physical address so the book can be mailed to you. These are all great reads!

How about you?

Have you given any thought to how you plan to publish your book once it is written?

For those who have self-published, do you have any advice to offer from your experience?

How do you feel about thinking of yourself as a business?

For readers, what is your favorite way of reading~hardcover, paperback,e-reader?

Let’s talk about writing and reading in this digital age~


  1. Janet Thompson says

    I have just published my memoir on Fast Pencil.
    It will go on distribution to Amazon etc. and also can be downloaded as a PDF and E-pub. I paid only $210.
    Their program is pretty darn comprehensive.
    It was a good and interesting adventure.
    The quality of the soft-cover book cover and paper are super.
    Because I am old and on social security I couldn’t afford for them to format the book, so I did it myself. (Learning experience)!
    Now I have to learn how to get on Facebook.
    Anyone have any ideas?

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your self-publishing experience with us,Janice.Congratulations on taking the plunge. What is the name of your book so we can check it out? Facebook is a good place to start if you do not have a website or blog. Do you have someone you know who could help you set up a Facebook fan page? If you aren’t familiar with setting up an account on Facebook that might be the best way to get started. If anyone else has any suggestions for Janice, please jump in! Good luck,Janice and I look forward to seeing you on Facebook. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

  2. says

    Thanks for the mention on this great list of resources Kathy. Everything I have learned about self-publishing, I share in the Blueprint and on my blog. There’s a great group of authors now who share a lot of their information online, much of it for free, so come and join the fun!
    Indie (independent publishing) is all about empowerment.

    • says

      I’m honored to have you stop by and comment Joanna. You have been a great proponent for self-publishing all along. Your Author 2.0 Blueprint is an excellent resource and I hope everyone stops by TheCreativePenn to follow you and download this e-book. Thank you for leading the way and showing all of us how to get “empowered!

  3. Joanne Currence says

    Hi, Kathy – Sounds like you came away with a ton of stuff at this conference – Thanks for sharing :- ) I’m thinking I’ll be seeing you in few weeks in Denver, too, right? I’m hoping so!

    • says

      Oh Joanne, I’d love to see you but unfortunately I will not be able to attend the “Writing for the Soul” conference this year. I’m sure it will be extraordinary and I look forward to hearing about it from you. Yes, the Writer’s Digest conference was fantastic. Conferences are a great way to stay in touch with the industry, especially since it is in such a state of flux right now. Thanks so much for stopping by. I wonder, have you considered self-publishing your YA novel? If so,I’d love to hear your thoughts. Enjoy Denver!

      • Joanne Currence says

        Hi again – So sorry I won’t be seeing you, but sounds like you’ve had lots of awesome things going at your end! That’s just so great :- ) As far as self-publishing, I’m just feeling I’d want it to be good enough where a publisher wants it, but with the way things are going, what a challenge that will continue to be! Yes, I’ll have to share what I come away with from the conference and will love to keep in touch :- )

        • says

          Self-publishing has become a option among many options for writers these days and I feel we each have to find the right match. It’s always nice to have several options to consider. I’ll look forward to staying in touch with you!

  4. says

    Fascinating take-aways from your writing conference! I especially enjoyed the description of an entrepreneur. As one who’s been running her own business for the past decade (yes, amazing, isn’t it?!!), I find those traits to be especially necessary. It takes a certain kind of person to visualize a goal, refuse to let anyone or any thing interfere with turning that goal into reality, motivate oneself, manage time and distractions, etc. While all entrepreneurs might not be financially successful (as most of us would define financial success!), we’re successful on other levels, including having the lifestyle we want, being in control, avoiding office politics, etc. I’ll be interested to read comments from your self-published friends on how they went about that!

    • says

      Thanks Debbie. I appreciate your thoughts about being an entrepreneur and the trade-offs that make it worthwhile. “Being in control and avoiding office politics” rank pretty high in my book. I’m looking forward to having Rebecca and Boyd share their self-publishing experiences as well as anyone else who may have an experience to share. We can certainly learn a lot from one another. Thanks again for stopping by and weighing in!

  5. Joanne Currence says

    Thank you for those words of wisdom – I just need to keep learning all that I can! Happy writing, and His continued blessings to you :- )

  6. says

    Kathy, my head has been spinning around these issues for a long time now, and you have not slowed the pace! What a complex world we live in. I think it’s a bit like learning the computer. I know a huge amount now, but I’ve been learning how to use it for nearly 30 years now, and even if you learn one thing a week, over the course of 30 years, you’ll learn a lot. I pity people who start fresh today!

    But hey, learn three things a week and you’ll be well-informed for making decisions in no time. Thanks for all the POWER links!

    I’m looking forward to those interviews with Boyd and all.

    • says

      I know what you mean about head-spinning,Sharon!I really like your idea of “learning three things a week”, breaking it all down into manageable doses. Glad you enjoyed the links. After I posted this,I found several more links that I tweeted. There’s gold everywhere. I’m excited to have Rebecca and Boyd share their “lived experiences” with self-publishing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  7. says

    You pick great quotes to feature, Kathy. “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.” Perfect for me! That is exactly what I am doing with my Project. Thanks!

  8. says

    Boy, Kathy, I just can’t make myself do the things I’d have to do to get my book published, indie, self, or traditional. I guess that means I will always be a writer but not an author. I might write a blog and write my memoir ( I have done that) and work on my mystery novel, but if I have to “be” a business, it ain’t gonna happen. I acknowledged many, many years ago that I didn’t want to be a “boss” (and I didn’t do very well when I tried it), not even my own, it the sense of “boss.” I want to do what I want to do if I want to do it, which makes me boss of my life, I guess, but not a business. But I’m satisfied to be a writer.

    • says

      Sam, Thanks for sharing your perspective on this whole business of being a business. Yousaid it best about what counts in the end~” being the boss of our own lives” and choosing what will work best for us. Since you are blogging, you may be interested in checking out Nina Amir’s website and new book Hey, ya’ never know if blogging excerpts from your memoir novel may get your writing out there for readers to enjoy. Happy blogging and writing :-)

  9. says

    Kathy – You’ve started a stimulating discussion here — one that I’m keen to follow. In the four months since I self-published my memoir, Voluntary Nomads: A Mother’s Memories of Foreign Service Family Life, I have slowly, gradually, and sometimes painfully realized that I am a business. Right now, I need fresh ideas to help my business grow, and I look forward to learning from the experience of your contributors.

    • says

      Nancy, I am so thrilled to have you stop by and comment! I had read a recent(glowing!) review of your self-published memoir,Voluntary Nomads and I just checked out your lovely blog. I notice you have posted excerpts of the memoir which I think is an excellent way to pique interest in your story. You are obviously doing all the right things so I hope others will stop by your blog and read your book and I also hope the discussion will be enlightening for you. We are all enriched when we share our stories. We need to help each other get through this publishing maze. :-)

  10. says

    Excellent post! I will be referring to this often. We need all the help and hope we can get.

    One thing: I noticed self published authors are referred to as “Indie” authors. I read a blog post by a small, independent publisher recently and she was not very happy with this. It is her belief that “Indie” authors are those that are published with organizations like hers–small independent publishers. I think there needs to be a general consensus on this.

    • says

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting,Grace. I’m glad you found the information helpful. I totally agree with you “we need all the help and hope we can get.” I had read that same point about the term “Indie” being reserved for small publishers. There’s so much going on these days with new terms flying around.It can be confusing. I’d like to hear a further clarification of this if anyone knows.

  11. says

    Thank you so much for all that you do, Kathy! As an up-coming author, I’m always looking for the latest on indie publishing, and kick-a$$ marketing techniques for my Memoir.

    You rock!

    • says

      Thanks,Jeff! I’m so happy to meet you and have you stop by.I’m glad you found the information useful. Indeed, we all need all the help we can get navigating these rough publishing waters,but the journey is made so much easier by sharing what we are learning with one another. I just stopped by your two blogs which I had found on #memoirDaily. Congratulations on starting your second blog to help promote your book, The Road Back to Myself. Great job! I hope others who are writing a memoir will stop by to see how you are tackling it with raw honesty and true grit:-)

  12. says

    Wow, thanks again, Kathleen! It’s called The Road to Myself for a reason, even at the ripe old age of 35! There’s a real story here. But enough about me, how is YOUR memoir coming along? :)

    Keeping the faith…Wonderful words that remind me of the magic of believing in self and others.

    • says

      Jeff, That’s a great title and I’m sure there is quite a story there! My WIP memoir, Mazes and Miracles:One Woman’s Story of the Power of Hope through Faith is currently a heaping pile of vignettes getting ready to be shaped into a story “that reads like a novel” :-). My goal for 2012 is to finish the first draft. Yes, believing in our story and ourself is a huge part of the process, perhaps the most difficult at times. Here’s a quote I found that sums it all up: “Faith is walking to the edge of all the light you have and taking one more step”(author unknown) Here’s to taking one more step! Appreciate your comments,Jeff.

  13. says

    Wow,Kathy, this is a fabulous collection of resources all in one post. Thank you! I’ve been watching you learn, and I’m so impressed by how quickly you have found the people it took me much longer to find and are now helping them with RT’s and mentions. Brava! I’m going to tweet about this post.

    Thanks, also, for a little glimpse of the Writer’s Digest conference. I wasn’t able to go. Would love a summary.

  14. says

    Kath, I have been so busy this week, I can’t believe I almost missed this post. You have provided extraordinary take away tips for anyone interested in writing & publishing. I feel stuck in my progress and your blog spurs me on to keep learning. I will stay away from the slopes and spend my “ski week” off school cruising the web connecting to all the valuable links you provided.

    • says

      Thanks Pat. There is so much to learn,it can feel mind-boggling at times. I hope you will find the links helpful. I do hope if you really want to go skiing that you will hit the slopes. Of course if, by chance, you need an excuse not to go, you will be quite busy surfing the web. Enjoy either way! :-)

  15. says

    Since I wanted editorial and publication design control, I have self-published all of the books I’ve composed. I raised money to pay the printer for the most recent one by pre-selling copies on my blog. I had the necessary amount within a month after I started my blog. Since then, I set up a small publishing company for my electronic publications.

    • says

      Katherine,Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your comment.My first thought after hearing of your self-publishing experience is that one has to have a fair amount of technical expertise as well as a true entrepreneurial spirit to do what you’ve done. I happen to know you possess both as well as a solid work ethic. How did you reach the point of venturing out on your own like you have? I’d love for you to share how you set up your own publishing company. What did it take for you?

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