With that said, take it away, Bryan Cohen!
I recently listened to a 12 minute summary of the book The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber for the second time. While I have yet to read the full book, the distillation of its subject matter has been extremely eye-opening for me as a self-published author.
The “E” in the book’s title refers to the term for an entrepreneur. In the book, Gerber states that a person who starts a business is not necessarily an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur in his eyes is a business owner who creates a system that can be easily replicated and that can give jobs to many people. The McDonald brothers who started the famous hamburger business would be considered business owners. Ray Kroc who bought the business and turned their system into a worldwide chain and veritable gold mine would be considered an entrepreneur.
The second time I listened to the summary, I realized how important it was for a self-published author to be an entrepreneur. Writing books and publishing them yourself is like being the author, the publisher and the publicist all rolled into one. In other words, each book you create is like a business, your storefronts are websites like Amazon, and your publicity takes the form of mailing lists, giveaways, blog tours, etc. If your first business is successful (i.e. your book makes a good amount of sales) you know that your system works well and you can open a second chain (i.e. write a second book, publish it, and publicize it).
In the book, Gerber uses the example of a woman who runs a pie business. When business is slow, she assumes that making more and tastier pies is the answer. Writers often think that crafting every word meticulously will have the same business-booming effect. In both cases, while working harder may help, the most effective way to build the business is to step back and look at it as a whole. How can you improve your book-selling business, as opposed to just your writing?
There isn’t an easy, fool-proof answer to this question. My friend Joe Pug, who has become a big success in the folk music scene was working as a carpenter on building sites in Chicago about four years ago. He had started to play his own songs on the guitar at some small concerts and knew that he needed to build his business (i.e. his customer base; his listeners). He started making copies of a CD with two of his singles and giving them out for free to anyone who wanted them. Within a few years, he had given out thousands of CDs and the gamble paid off. He now makes a healthy income from his iTunes sales and he’s toured around the country playing shows with artists like Steve Earle and Glen Hansard.
While this isn’t a book example, I hope it shows you that even a creative person, an artist, can benefit from an intelligent entrepreneurial strategy. When you complete a book, don’t just think about writing the next one; think about how you’re going to strategically sell your first one. Your ideas might include a fancy cover, a blog tour, an advertising campaign or any number of things. While it would be amazing if all books were purchased on artistic merit alone, it is not the world we live in. Be an entrepreneur with your book and create a system that will ensure all your writing gets out to the widest audience possible.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd, 2011.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas.