There’s a nasty rumor out there among indie authors and the wider artistic community in general, and it goes a little something like this: The only genuine artist is a starving artist.
This insidious thought serves to lower living conditions among creatives by conditioning otherwise intelligent, talented people to accept it (or even to strive for it), and it takes hold by latching onto an otherwise noble concept: artistic integrity.
We all have our own version of artistic integrity, and every individual has to answer for themselves: is trading art for money—building a life around doing what you love—inherently inauthentic?
Is it wrong to make a living creating something you love?
The Author-Entrepreneur doesn’t think so, even if the Starving Artist insists on it. But if you choose to thrive in independent publishing, you have to make the right choices on behalf of your book—because in the self-publishing game, there’s no one to do it for you.
Here are three elements smart Authorpreneurs proudly take into their own hands.
1. Figure out your audience.
The Starving Artist writes a book for herself. She writes only what she wants to write, refusing to think about how that book might connect to a reader. It’s all for her.
The Authorpreneur writes the same book, for the same reasons—but before she does, she identifies her target audience. This brings the manuscript into tighter focus from the beginning, resulting in a stronger book that is just as personal but infinitely more commercially viable.
2. Take pride in your work.
The Starving Artist is so excited to publish a book and so desperate to get her words out there that she grabs a stock photo to slap on her cover, runs the manuscript through a spell-checker, and publishes it to the Kindle store the very afternoon she finishes the first draft.
She knows she should hire a professional editor and cover designer, but she's intimidated because she doesn't know how to find an editor or designer, so she just skips it, sure that her story will transcend any issues with grammar, readability, or logic.
The Authorpreneur understands that her work isn’t over just because she has a first draft. She hires a professional cover designer: she knows that very few readers will take a chance on a book with a sloppy cover. She has her book professionally formatted; she understands that even fewer readers will stick around when they see her interior is also in shambles.
3. Don’t let anyone stop you.
The Starving Artist wakes up in the morning and sends her manuscript from publisher to publisher, desperately hoping someone will give her permission to share her thoughts with the world. She needs someone else to carry the responsibility of pushing the book through production, marketing effectively, and connecting with readers on her behalf, and she feels the acceptance of a traditional publishing house validates her book.
The Authorpreneur doesn’t wait for permission to publish. She takes her publishing destiny into her own hands, familiarizing herself with industry standards, learning what she wants to learn that can help bring her book to the next level and hiring out the rest. She treats her writing like a business, understanding and leveraging her value against the needs of the market, and to her, that gives her book validation.
Which will you be: a Starving Artist, or an Authorpreneur?