Business For Authors: Viewing Your Writing Profession as a “Business”


I thought today I should share with you a book which I found to be really helpful for self-published authors.

Most Authors make the mistake of viewing their writing as a hobby or as art that they indulge in more for love than for money. There is nothing wrong with this attitude.

However, if you are really serious about making a full time income from writing, you need to view your books as “products”, your editors, translators, and book cover designers as “suppliers”, your readers as “customers” and your writing career as “customer service” whereby you write one book after the other to keep your readers (i.e. customers) happy.

This means that you should see your writing career as a “business” and yourself as an “entrepreneur”.  “Business for Authors” by Joanna Penn teaches you exactly that.

NY Times and USA Today Best Selling Author Joanna  Penn has pooled in all of her six years of experience as an Author Entrepreneur (a term I love) and thirteen years of experience as an IT Consultant into the writing of this book. Her blog has been voted as the Top 10 blogs for Writers and Self Publishers since 2012. This in itself makes the book worth reading for any author, self-published or traditionally published, new or experienced.

What I really liked about the book is Joanna’s honesty in giving advice. This book is not meant for those who are looking to make a quick buck.

Some of the salient features of the book are:

Whether writing a book is a good business model in itself: Joanna has come up with tests to determine whether an idea can be a good implementable business model that also makes a profit. She comes to the conclusion that writing a book is good business and I agree with her. However, you can use her test to reach your own conclusion.

Is it a good idea to start a company: You don’t really need to. But if you want to, Joanna discusses the various benefits of starting your own company.

Various business models that authors follow: Some authors supplement their writing career with selling courses, speaking assignments, editing services or even teaching how to write. Others simply keep on writing more books and in the long run hope to earn a full time income through their books only. This discussion can help you in identifying and clarifying which business model you should like to follow.

Working with editors, cover designers, translators and publishers

Should you hire a virtual assistant: Joanna talks about the pros and cons of keeping a virtual assistant. Being a self-published author for over a year and with seven books under my belt, I am still struggling with this issue myself. However, her experience has cleared my thoughts.

Your customers: She asks you to make a note of your typical reader and where they hang out. A hint is that your typical reader is very likely to be like you.

Sales and distributions: She discusses many options like selling through distributors like Createspace, Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords versus selling directly through your blog.

What Joanna says about traditional publishers is very important: Most authors crave for a traditional publishing deal but Joanna warns you to be careful in giving away all your rights cheaply to get a traditional publishing deal. I was surprised to find that one of her literary agents had a clause whereby he would earn 15% of anything Joanna publishes including her self-published books (where the agent would have no contribution)! Naturally that agent had to be shown the door.

On the whole “Business For Authors” is a well-written and such a comprehensive book that as a wannabe author you may take months to digest.

I only wish that while Joanna had some good words for e-marketing sites like, she could have offered advice on a lot of other competing sites which are either free or not so exorbitantly priced as Bookbub.

Similarly I’d have loved her views on the FREE book translation site Babelcube, which she just doesn’t mention.

Still, this is a gem of a book which I highly recommend to any Author who is looking to make a career out of writing through either self-publishing or traditional publishing.

You may sample the book here.





Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.