Think You’re Just An Author? No…You’re The CEO

For the past few months, I’ve been working steadily to get my next suspense novel, “Sweet Little Lies,” ready for release; revising the manuscript based on feedback from my beta readers and critique partner, planning the cover art, writing “back of the book” blurbs and releasing sneak peeks.  Not to mention ongoing promotion for “Live and Let Die,” blogging regularly, updating my website, diving into the revisions for my next two releases, and toying with the outline for another manuscript idea. 

And yet, I still find time to watch copious amounts of Bravo.  Never let it be said I don’t have my priorities in order.    

As busy as I am and as hard as it is to be a one-woman band, I have to admit, I like having the control over my products, their price and promotion (remember that from “Jerry McGuire?”). 

As an indie author, I can decide what edits/revisions I want to make to my manuscripts, what I want to title my books (Joy Fielding, a New York Times bestselling author and my author crush, cause we all have one, doesn’t get a say over her book titles and in fact, doesn’t like a few of them) and what I want to price my books.  If I don’t like the direction my cover art is going in, I can change it. I can make the call on when my books are published.  It’s an incredible sense of freedom to be able to have the final say-so over my product.  The buck stops with me, but anyone who’s the CEO of their own company understands that.    

And indeed, I do think of myself as my own CEO.  I think a lot of authors get into the indie game with the idea that if they could just get a traditional publishing contract, it will solve everything.  Anyone who regularly reads J.A. Konrath’s blog or has read his ebook “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing,” knows the work doesn’t stop just because you signed on the dotted line with a publisher.  In fact, it’s hardly a guarantee of mainstream success.  As Konrath has pointed out numerous times, he didn’t have the support of his publisher, so he did everything he could think of to bring eyeballs to his books, running himself ragged and going broke in the process.  Now that he’s the CEO of his brand and running it the way he wants to, he’s much happier and by his own accounts, has greater visibility and is more financially successful than ever.    

All authors, even those with the traditional publishing contracts, have to think of their publishing career like a business.  Joy Fielding pays for the design and maintenance of her website out of her own pocket (which, if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend checking it out.  It’s gorgeous.)  James Patterson works seven days a week and constantly produces new product.  Nora Roberts made the inn she renovated in her hometown the backdrop of some of her books (driving book sales and inn reservations.  Smart and creative).

No matter what route you take along the path to publication, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it will be easy or that you can abdicate all responsibility for your career.  It will be a lot of missed Happy Hours, time away from family and long, bleary-eyed stretches in front of the computer.   But, in the end, when you get the success you want, however you define it, it will all be worth it because YOU stepped up to assume the CEO mantle.  

Write the best book you can, spend the money to hire professional cover artists, proofreaders and formatters.  And always, ALWAYS… keep writing.