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What is a book publishing entrepreneur, how do you become one, and how do you know if you already are one? There are benefits to becoming a book publishing entrepreneur if you’re interested in establishing a professional presence in the world of book publishing.

1. What is an “entrepreneur”?

First, we need to understand what an entrepreneur is before we can fully understand it in the context of book publishing. According to Investopedia, “an entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. The process of setting up a business is known as entrepreneurship.”

It’s common for entrepreneurs to be disruptive. Whether that’s within an organisation or within a market. They can also be stressed by lack of progress, organisational rigidity, long time frames, lack of results, and lack of stress. Yes, you read right – a lack of stress (or challenge) often stresses entrepreneurs.

I’m an entrepreneur. Starting my career in a government agency was disillusioning. A sagely government employee (who’d started just three years prior to myself), advised me “the way to get ahead is simply keep your head down – don’t rock the boat… It might take 15-20 years, but you’ll end up an executive with a huge pension fund,” and “If its not broken, why fix it?” The problem with that ethos was that I wasn’t interested in a pension and that it was indeed broken! It wasn’t for me.

1.1 Risk and reward

From my experience, entrepreneurs have a distinctive approach to risk and risk-taking. That is, they are comfortable with taking risks. Often, they behave in ways that others see as irrational. This is what I call the “entrepreneur x-factor” (EXF). From the outside, it seems that entrepreneurs are odd – but it’s what the entrepreneurs can ‘see’ that non-entrepreneurs can’t that sets them apart.

What entrepreneurs see is most often the reward for risk taking. The best entrepreneurs can also see the way that a risk can be managed and the steps that can be taken to achieve success. For many entrepreneurs, these steps and processes are like a game – an enjoyable game. They are not at all stressed with challenges or the obstacles between them and success. Great entrepreneurs are essentially creative, not so much in the artistic sense, but in terms of being able to conceive initiatives and solutions to problems. Faced with a obstacle, a good entrepreneur will muse “that’s okay. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”

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2. What is a “book publishing entrepreneur”?

A book publishing entrepreneur specifically is someone who see’s an opportunity (a reward) and is happy to embrace risk (money and time) to see a book published. This could be someone else’s book, or it could be their own.

Many self-published authors fit the entrepreneurs profile, but there are self-published authors who do not. Included in that are those who:

  • have purely artistic- or creative-bent agendas;
  • publish just for themselves (keepsakes) or for status reasons; and
  • have altruistic motives;
  • are risk-adverse and spend the lead-up and process to publishing a book constantly crunching numbers.

The rewards of book publishing entrepreneurship can be financial, reputational, or as a lever to promote a business.

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3. Are you already a book publishing entrepreneur?

See if you are entrepreneurial, take the quiz below:

Alternatively, here’s my very own short-list of qualifying questions:

  • Do you have a strategic or high-level view?
  • Are you good at finding competent people-resources when your expertise isn’t enough – can you let go of personal control?
  • Are you pragmatic, knowing “perfect is the enemy of good”?
  • Do you understand risk? Is taking risks financially or otherwise stress-free?
  • When you fail, do you learn and move on quickly?

Answered yes to those questions? Then you have the makings of an entrepreneur. And if you are an entrepreneur, then you can certainly be a book publishing entrepreneur.

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4. More about book publishing risk

If you don’t understand risk-and-reward, you are either not a book publishing entrepreneur or you are a poor book publishing entrepreneur.

Revisit our blog post, Self-publishing vs traditional publishing, to learn about the financial risk of publishing your book and see if you have what it takes to be a book publishing entrepreneur. The blog covers the risks of publishing your book across three avenues: self-publishing, traditional publishing, and hybrid publishing.

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5. The book entrepreneur’s toolkit

5.1 Be book market aware

Book entrepreneurs are book market aware. A good book entrepreneur scans the market to see what sells. This can be done by using industry data like Nielson BookScan (if you can afford it). You’ll be able to find what is selling best in which genres. Amazon is invaluable (nearly free) and by using browser plugins you can find a whole lot of valuable market information. Or as a book entrepreneur you can simply keep an eye on what genres are selling at WH Smith each time you pass through the airport.

5.2 Become a book packager

The one way that you can be assured that your book will sell is by adhering to this simple mantra: only build books for those that want it. One way to be certain whether your book has interest or not is to presell your book in volume while it is still in production. Don’t forget crowdfunding if you are short on capital. Crowdfunding is a legitimate way of pre-selling your book. Pozible – based in Melbourne – is a great Australian crowdfunding platform that you can use to presell your book and gauge the public interest early.

5.3 Use your book as a business lever

Using your book as a business lever (not necessarily for profit from book sales) is a great strategy. This strategy gives you the opportunity of you being recognised as a thought leader or subject expert. You can also use a book as a powerful part of a sales funnel and drive more traffic to your business.

5.4 Use a self-publishing service provider (SSP)

If you want to be assured that you are getting a professional result out of your book publishing process, you need to use a self-publishing service provider (SSP) like Green Hill. The worst thing you can do is to make your book look self-published – that’s the ‘kiss of death’ for any publishing enterprise. Unfortunately, this is almost always the case with projects that have been executed solely by the author. Whether that is the author doing their own editing, cover and typesetting design, and organising their own printing, or if they don’t cut the professionals they hire loose and allow them to properly do their job. Organising your book production through a SSP like Green Hill and allowing industry professionals the space to work their magic, your title if infinitely more likely to sit comfortably on bookshelves next to a Penguin or Hachette title. Do the math – use a SSP.

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