Being Author-prenuerial When the Bottom Line is Wavy

When the bottom line doesn’t add up to figures in black – without red dashes before them – what does a writer hope to gain by the publishing of a book?

A new author sent me a list of questions to answer regarding her first month of publishing, which occurred at the end of last year. I’ve now been in the publishing business for four full years, which is practically nothing in the grand scheme of things.

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Why has anyone ever published their work? Has there ever been a financial guarantee?

I had to face and disclose the fact that the outlay of investment so far has been well beyond the income from selling books, and what’s more difficult to assimilate, the outlay of investment would continue to be a calculated risk if she continued to buy advertising and publish other books.

Here are ten gains to consider when you are deciding whether an author’s journey is worth taking.

1. A waterfall of education in literacy and marketing publicity occurs in the life of every rookie author (one to five years expected). People often see hybrid publishing as a way to work themselves into being offered a deal by a traditional publishing house.

2. The opportunity to persevere stakes out its garden lit walkway (character growth).

3. Attending, or presenting to, writers conferences in exquisite places become a surprising blast of wind through the back door. (travel).

4. Bonding with other creatives whose values are similar to your own, or who may enlarge your territory, such as editors, artists, philanthropist partners, agents, publicists, and publishers whose goals intersect with yours and who bolster the vision and energy that you value so highly becomes a wonderland in a world of chill factors (understanding, heart, worldview, exposure).

5. Experiencing the surreal ripples of new connections between and among the four hemispheres of a writer’s brain and physiological moments will make your mouth water, your tears fall, and your lungs fill with the aires of a-ha! (personal exploration of life, engaging curiosity).

6. You will tell your story your way. By the grace of God you will use your voice and your God-given experience to reveal something meaningful to new audiences (calling and ministry).

7. Learning to use criticism as a springboard to excellence will improve your voice and your value to yourself and others (posterity).

8. Discovering the benefits of silence and solitude will make you more at home with yourself than ever before (isolation from the rat-race).

9. Learning to budget the business will grant you control and creative ideas to succeed (accounting, taxes, laws related to income, losses, copyright, and royalties).

10. Cafés☕️📚… and coffee… and classrooms (enjoying alternate universes).

If any of these pro’s outweigh the con’s, I recommend that you set up a savings account in order to publish and/or market not only your first book but also your second. You may have to eat less, forego shopping sprees or vacations.

You might be familiar with the wisdom of old that advises entrepreneurs to count the cost before building a house. But, for me, counting the costs in building a publishing house was not an option. That is, there was no trail of breadcrumbs through the forest leading towards the line items as to how things would add up.  I learned many things in a backward manner and spent time and money that I now see to be the price of personal education. Now, things are clearer.

Different things make different people tick.  Consider shopping, fashion, child care, workout equipment and reps, television, stage performance, animals, industry or career, all of these are things that consume one’s budget, time, and effort.  They bring their own social circles into your life.

If publishing your work is the thing that makes your clock tick, either use the other areas in your life as props, ideas, and research for your book or begin to reclaim the amount of your priority with them and siphon off that priority towards your writing goals.

Tonya Blessing, the three-year author with Capture Books (Soothing Rain and Whispering of the Willows), says,

I also think that passion is a huge piece of writing.  I have a pas|sion (strong and barely controllable feeling) about writing. I like creating a story. I like how writing brings things out in me that I didn’t even know existed. And, I am happy with the responses from readers I’ve had in this past year.”

Use the “author life” as a worthy and reasonable goal for your personal quality of life.  Do this psychological shuffling even if no-one else understands you.  Talk about the joys and frustrations you have with reading and writing and arithmetic to your friends and associates.  Out with it!

When all of this begins happening, and your initial choices begin to snowball into life priorities, you may find yourself in a sardonic mood from time to time.  Do you wrestle with the necessary line items in your pitiful household budget? Not everyone has a difficult budget, but many creatives and writers do. It may be something to get financial counseling specifically related to your author’s line-item budget.

It’s tempting to capitulate into the pool of guilt over budgeting funds towards the costs of launching an author-perineurial business. Don’t do this.  You will need to invest in yourself and create new boundaries for yourself in order to succeed.  This is how anyone in business approaches success.

Take Away: When advertising goes bust or the book expo leaves you addled with waste, then pull out your list of why’s and add to them the how’s.


Laura Bartnick, the Managing Partner at Capture Books, (author of Welcome to the Shivoo! Creatives Mimicking the Creator). She is available to give this presentation in writer’s groups and to field questions in person or over the airwaves, or online.

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