Author Entrepreneur: What Writers Can Learn From Rework By Jason Fried

As a writer you need to be creative in your writing, but that creativity can also be expressed in the way you do business and run your own ‘portfolio career’. You need to be an Author Entrepreneur these days or you will not be able to make an income from your writing business.

I am very committed to getting out of my day job (IT business consultancy) in the next year and into full time writing and speaking, so this is a topic I am fascinated with. Last week, I read ‘Rework’ by Jason Fried, from 37Signals and I am recommending it to everyone within my industry in business consulting, but it also has a lot to teach authors/writers/creatives who want to take business seriously.

Here are the things I think writers/creatives can learn from ‘Rework':

  • Make a dent in the Universe. One of the reasons we write is to make an impact. Changing people’s lives through our words or just creating a fantastic, escapist experience that people want to tell their friends about. The only way to do this is actually to get on and do it. No time is no excuse. No one has any time. People often ask me what I’m doing for the weekend, or the holidays or on a friday night. For the last 18 months I have been working on this blog, doing podcasts, engaging on twitter, writing my novel, writing my online course, speaking and generally working at building The Creative Penn from ground up. I want to make a dent in the Universe. Do you?
  • Embrace less mass. I love this principle and think more small businesses would succeed with this mindset. You don’t need to spend much money these days to have an online business. You need some kind of shopping cart (E-Junkie is $5 per month). You need a database and email system (I use Aweber which is $19 per month – affiliate link) and you need hosting for your blog (Hostgator is $7 per month – affiliate link). That is a few cups of coffee per month for an online business. As a writer, you just need a computer and basic software. As a speaker, you don’t need much more than that. Authors are by definition a business of one, so embrace being small, nimble and profitable with very low overheads!
  • You can’t just make one thing. Emulate chefs. This is extremely important if you want to make some decent money in any market. You have some knowledge but you need to share it in multiple ways. Think chefs first of all, like Jamie Oliver. He cooks but that is only the basic level of his income. He sells cookbooks, mobile apps, has restaurants and other products around the cookery topic. You have a book or books, but you can also create online courses, mobile apps, live workshops, audiobooks, video products and so much more. Spin your book into multiple products and your income will improve. You can sell a multi-media course for more than a book and it gives people more value. Check out ‘Blogging for Authors and Writers’ as an example.
  • Pour yourself into your own product. Don’t be fake. Sound like you. Authenticity is key as an author in an over-crowded marketplace. People buy your books if they know, like and trust you. They are more likely to feel this way if you give something of yourself. Don’t just put your professional self out there, put aspects of your life that people can relate to. This doesn’t mean you should let it all hang out, but you need to draw the line a little closer to you. For example, one of the most popular posts I did was “Does alcohol help or hurt your writing?”. I shared my thoughts and people shared their very personal stories. This doesn’t relate to my books or products at all but if people connect with you as a person, they are more likely to buy your book on career change (or whatever) than someone else’s.
  • Build an audience. Everything is marketing. You have probably got the idea by now of the importance of author platform! It’s not a myth. It’s reality of all businesses these days. If you have an audience you can talk to, you can still have a successful business in a crowded market. You also need to remember that everything is marketing. Your submission letters to agents, your emails pitching guest blog posts, your tweets, your audio interviews, how you speak about other people’s work. So be aware and be strategic in what you do.
  • The myth of the overnight sensation. This is so true for writers. A book seems to blaze into the publishing sky and everyone wonders at this overnight success. But the vast majority of those people have been slogging away for years, and finally the effort paid off. There is no reward without hard work (which is in itself a reward!). So stop buying lottery tickets, and start building for the future!

More information about Rework can be found here, including downloads and videos.

You can also get 2 brilliant free audios right now from Lateral Action blog, which is fantastic for entrepreneurs. One audio is with Jason Fried on Rework and the other with ‘War of Art author Steven Pressfield, both are excellent and well worth the time.

If you like audios, remember there are over 50 free audios available for writers here.

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  1. says

    Hi Joanna – I’ve been following your blog and have taken one of your courses so I feel like I’m getting to know you a little bit. Your comment above “Build an audience. Everything is marketing” really speaks to me. I’m trying to adapt what I’ve learned from my business career to what I am doing now which is writing fiction. Unlike non-fiction the concept of packaging spin-off products is different in the realm of fiction. Can you advise or point me to interesting approaches used by other fiction writers? With thanks.

    • says

      Hi Mary,
      Firstly, thanks for your support of the blog and my fledgling business! I love being useful to people.

      Regarding fiction writers using multiple streams of income, check out Holly Lisle who is the best example of this (as far as I know right now).
      Holly is a fiction writer, but she has other innumerable books on writing, world building etc as well as online courses for wannabe writers. (I am currently doing How to Think Sideways)
      So she teaches as well as writes. That’s definitely an excellent form of income.
      Scott Sigler, interviewed here
      also runs Author Bootcamp, teaching people how to podcast and market online.
      Mur Lafferty, from I should be writing, makes an income from several podcasts as well as products around the books she writes

      There are some examples, and I will put together a post on this as it is a FAQ.
      Thanks so much, Joanna

  2. says

    Hi Joanna!

    I am so very new to this, so would like to thank you for putting so much useful information into one place!

    Have you come across people actually “publishing” books through blogs? I have started a blog and plan to post chapters of the book one by one, in hopes of building an audience (like a “serial” book). This is to 1) motivate me to write and finish, and 2) build an audience and get a publisher.

    I would love to know if you have any advice on this idea…and thanks again!


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