In my previous article of the five-part series, I wrote about mindset as the first of the five pillars of authorpreneurship.
Who is an authorpreneur?
An authorpreneur is a person who creates written products, creates a brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets.
In other words, an authorpreneur is a person who builds an empire around his or her writing. Think J.K. Rowling, think Stephen King, think James Patterson, and you will get the picture.
But first, a disclaimer; I am not an authorpreneur yet. I am nowhere near. I am just a student of those who has made a successful business around their writing and are willing to show the way. I am studying their processes and to lay the groundwork for my own journey. I call them pillars of authorpreneurship.
I have discovered, there are five pillars of authorpreneurship.
Whether you are a fiction writer, a non-fiction writer, or a content writer, the pillars are still the same.
After mindset, “Time” is the most important pillar of authorpreneurship.
How much time it is going to take you to become an authorpreneur
When you start any profession, it takes time to learn the ropes. Think medicine, teaching, nursing, economics, or engineering. In any of these professions, you are expected to spend at least three to five years learning the basics. Yet, with writing, we want to succeed instantly.
Writing demands a similar number of years if not the same. I am not counting the hobby writers here who take 5 to 10 years to write their first or only book.
Even if you are a good writer, there is still a lot to learn. The rules of the game have changed. We no longer can sit at our desks and write. We need to learn the other aspects of authorpreneurship.
You got to give yourself at least five years to learn the craft and establish yourself as a writer.
I have been studying the trajectory of many successful authorpreneurs, and five years is the minimum amount of time they have taken to make it.
Case Study #1
Joanna Penn, a fiction and non-fiction bestselling writer, published her first self-help book in 2008. She started writing it in 2006 while working full-time as a system analyst in a larger corporation. The book was a disaster.
In February 2011, she published her first novel, Seven months later gave up her day job to go full-time based on income from the blog, book sales, speaking, and downsizing.
In 2013 she was voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013.
In 2014 her novel, One Day in Budapest, was in a multi-author box set that hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, selling over 100,000 copies in a few weeks. The same year she started publishing fiction under a separate name — JFPenn.
In 2015 she started making 6 figures from her writing — incorporating book sales, blog-related income, speaking, and everything related to her author business.
It took Joanna five years from the day she started writing her first book to make enough money to give up her full-time job and another four to make a six-figure income.
But today, thirteen years later, she owns an empire and aiming for a seven-figure income in the near future. She has written more than 30 books. You can read her full-timeline here.
Before you get any rosy ideas, let me mention the most important detail. Joanna works harder than any full-time employee or a business owner you can think of. She clocks in ten to thirteen hours a day.
Case Study #2
You would think content writers might be able to do it quicker.
Tom Kuegler, one of the prolific writers on Medium, started early at 23. He was one of the early writers on Medium. Last week, in the article How I’ve Made $250,000 Writing Online In 3 Years he wrote that bulk of his earnings came from selling his course ($190,000) while writing on Medium ($40,000), freelancing, and sponsorship ($20,000) constituted just a quarter of the pie.
He is twenty-nine today, which means it took him six years to get to a six-figure income.
No matter what online writers might tell you, making money with just content writing is hard.
Very very hard.
Content writers make money with advertising. When advertising is great, they might make a lot, but when the market is down and advertising money disappears (as it did during the pandemic year), content writers’ income takes a big hit.
Tim Denning’s article The Stories of Making Money Online Have Disappeared — Why Is That? explains it much better.
Although this scenario will change too, the only thing that will keep you in the authorpreneur business besides desire and drive is your “why.”
It is your “why” that will keep you in the game, however long it might take you to become an auhorpreneur.
That “why” can’t be money, because it will not show until late. Very late.
That “why” can’t be “making a living” because it will place too much stress on your work and eventually will kill your creativity.
That “why” can’t be fame because it will lead to an inflated ego, and ego will make you a terrible writer.
But if your “why” is embedded in your primary need to write, you will survive any crisis, and establish your empire; doesn’t matter however long it might take.
If your “why” is to educate, inspire, and entertain, and you are willing to work without much compensation, your empire will form as a consequence of that.
Empires are not made, empires are the consequence.
The Roman Empire was not built because Romans conquered half the world; the Roman empire was built because Romans had a system in place that helped them built an empire.
J K Rowling didn’t write to build an empire. She wrote even when things were not favorable, and an empire was built due to that.
Her first book was rejected 12 times before it got accepted by a small publisher. Thankfully now, you and I don’t have better processes available to us.
Three recent trends in favor of writers.
Decentralization. We are no longer at the mercy of the traditional publishing model. The publishers used to be the gatekeepers who held the ultimate power to decide which work can or can’t be published. That barrier doesn’t exist anymore. With nothing more than a laptop or a smartphone, you can write and publish as many books as you like. You can be the owner of your own company. And this is exactly what successful authors are doing.
Connectivity. You can now sell your books worldwide from your study. Anyone in the world can buy your books with the click of a mouse. Most readers have access to the internet, and they are willing to buy books online. The pandemic accelerated the ebook and audiobook sales beyond anyone’s expectations. These trends will continue to grow. There will never be enough books in the world to fill the demand for knowledge, entertainment, and inspiration.
Information. You can learn how to do nearly anything these days. You can learn to write for free by watching YouTube videos or reading blog posts; you can create your own courses and earn while you are learning your craft; you can connect with the right people and build your empire.
To sum up
There are no limits to what you can do as long as you are willing to learn and give yourself time to see the results.
You should not get into writing to make money, fame, or even to build an empire. If they are your core reasons, you will not survive the hardships and the time it will take you to succeed.
But if writing has gone into your blood and you can’t survive without writing, then you will succeed within a reasonable amount of time.