At the recent London Book Fair, self-published author Mel Sherratt said “if you want to publish a book, you have to run a business” and spoke about the kind of all-round skills and confidence that an entrepreneur might need. We thought this was great advice, and have compiled a list of 4 things authors can learn from entrepreneurs, below:
1. Refine your sales pitch
A good test of how well you can sell the book and yourself as its author, is with an ‘elevator pitch’. Specialist Brand Experience Director John Lyle explains an elevator pitch as the ability to be able to sell your idea, product, or service in a very short period of time – useful for entrepreneurs and authors alike!
To create an elevator pitch, John Lyle asks entrepreneurs to reduce their product down into its simplest definition, defining the target market, and thinking of the image they want to project for their product and company until it is so small, it could fit into a tweet!
Creating an elevator pitch is a really great process for authors to go through before you start selling, too. Work out what it is about your book that’s going to make people want to buy it, and try to summarise this in one or two sentences . Top literary agent Juliet Mushens gives some top advice on how to condense your novel into an elevator pitch in our ‘Get Your Book Fit Course’ on Udemy. Check it out, and start refining!
Patty Vogan, owner of Victory Coaching, emphasises the importance of doing research before jumping into an entrepreneurial venture. In her case, starting a business in a new country, her ignorance of the local laws nearly put her in jail!
As an author you shouldn’t face quite such a scary prospect, unless perhaps you write a particularly salacious and slanderous biography! But you could wind up wasting your opportunity to talk with potential partners or booksellers if you fail to do some basic sleuthing before you approach them.
For example, Nic Bottomley, owner of the independent bookshop Mr B’s Emporium, has explained that he will consider stocking self-published authors, but only if they’re on wholesalers lists like Ingram, as this helps simplify his accounting. Luckily for CompletelyNovel authors, books sold through our Plus and Pro Plans are eligible – hurrah!
This might not be the same for every independent bookseller but if you’re trying to get your books out onto the high street for the first time, this is one of many things that is useful to know before you start contacting. Do your research so you can ensure that you make the best first impression possible, and don’t waste your time with irrelevant leads.
An article from Richard Branson tells entrepreneurs to network at every level: on social media sites like LinkedIn , at industry events, and in regional groups. From relying on friends and family, to making connections with industry players and building a supportive peer group, he argues that “the first road on the step to success is building a network”.
For authors, there are events and groups up and down the country, like the ones run by Byte the Book in London. Take some business cards, don’t be too eager or overbearing, and you could learn, and make some useful contacts – especially if you read our advice on networking first!
Just remember – networking is a two-way street. Patrick Neale, owner of bookshop Jaffé & Neale , says he finds it lot easier to support local self-published authors if they’ve already been an active presence in his shop. If you’re looking at making friends in the literary world, don’t just start when you need them. Start becoming an active member of the writing and publishing community now.
4. Use expertise
Writer, business person, PR expert, designer, journalist… Don’t try to do everything! A recent BBC article asked entrepreneurs what failures they made along the way and Liz Earle, the founder of Liz Earle Skincare, regretted not bringing in expert help earlier. Relying on specialists can free up your time, and help in areas where you might need a little support, such as design, editing, and marketing.
Similarly, when you do outsource your work, make sure you get quality. If you’re lucky enough to have friends willing to proofread your work, then great. If you want a polished piece of work, however, you may want to enlist the help of a professional. If you need help finding someone, why not ask the authors in the CN community ?
Your book may sell itself. It may be the novel of the decade and be directed out of the wilderness by word of mouth – but it wouldn’t be a good idea to depend on this. As an author, you are your own business, so take heed of entrepreneurial advice – it may well come in use for your marketing!
Want more tips from entrepreneurs? Check out the articles from Enterprise Nation.
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Thanks for this! I love the idea of an elevator pitch fitting into a tweet. And the info in #2 is especially useful, too.