Before even opening the doors at BookEnds, before I even had a company name, I spent time really thinking about my vision, what I wanted to do, and learning about book packaging (at the time BookEnds was a packager and not a literary agency). I met with other packagers, scheduled phone calls with people I had known in the business, and joined a business professionals group for book packagers. I even made appointments with the Small Business Association and the IRS to get basic business advice outside of publishing.
I didn’t slow my stride, I wasn’t even overthinking it. I had already made the decision to go into business, now I needed to learn tactics from others who had done the same. What kind of mistakes had they made, what sorts of advice could they give. What could I expect and how could I take my own ideas and make them happen.
Later, when it was decided that BookEnds should become a literary agency, I again scheduled phone calls and meetings and lunch dates with people I knew and trusted. I also reviewed the AAR website to understand what was expected of agents in a legal sense.
As BookEnds has grown and changed I’ve continued to learn from others, either by having conversations or watching how they do things. Sometimes I look to emulate them, sometimes I look to do the exact opposite. Talking to others and learning from them has been invaluable to starting, sustaining and growing BookEnds. I’m constantly looking for ways to do things bigger and better and I get my ideas not just from those in the publishing industry, but from businesses and business professionals of all kinds. It’s what anyone who is starting or running a business should be doing. It’s what authors are doing if you really see your future as an author as a business and if you want to someday “quit the day job” you better be looking at your writing as a business.
With that in mind, and with visions of quitting the day job, what are you doing to learn more about your business? When it comes time to find a publishing partnership–agent and publisher–how much are you learning about the business and the expectations of authors. Are you educating yourself on contract terms? Pitch letters? Queries and copy-edits?
No one expects you to know everything, especially as a debut author, but we do expect to see your knowledge grow as you move through your career. The most successful authors are businesspeople as well as writers so my next question is how successful do you really want to be?