Writing is an Art; Publishing is a Business

Consider all the really great books that don’t sell. Consider some of the poorly written books that do. Although this is unfair, it is also reality. Fortuitous timing aside, these two situations point out the fact that producing and selling books is part art and part business.

I’ve been in business much of my adult life: managing businesses, owning businesses, starting businesses, running businesses, and buying businesses. Being a businessman is in my blood; it’s part of who I am.

I’ve been writing even longer, but in the past five years, I’ve taken writing seriously, moving it from hobby status to professional. I’ve worked at improving my work, at communicating clearer, and at understanding the craft. Along the way, I realized writing is art. For a person who didn’t think of himself as creative, seeing writing as a form of art is huge. I embrace the role of an artist who writes. Writing is my passion. It’s in my blood; it’s part of who I am.

In accepting the reality that writing is art, while publishing is business, it would seem that as a businessman writer, I have the best of both worlds. My creative side produces content and my business side turns it into product that sells. Unfortunately I have trouble connecting the two, at least as far as my work is concerned.

Many writers also struggle with the business side of their art. And while I am closer to connecting the two, my struggle is no less real.

Though the reason why I have this issue still evades me, the solution is clear. As Nike says, I need to “just do it.” And with all the evolving technology in the world of publishing, it has never been easier to do.

Are you more artist or businessperson?

Balancing the Artist with the Entrepreneur: Why Book Publishing Requires Both

Last week I shared that the three parts of publishing a book were writing it, producing it, and marketing it. Each of these aspects has a creative element and a business element, which must be balanced, kept in a respectable tension.

The pure artist says, “Let me create without interference; I don’t care about commercial viability; just let me be me.” The pure artist will likely starve or need to get a day job.

The pure businessperson says, “I will only do things that will make money, the more the better. I’ll follow trends and jump on any bandwagon moving in the right direction.” The pure businessperson may put food on the table, but will sacrifice his soul in the process; her writing will have no heart.

The pure artist and the pure businessperson cannot survive apart from each other. They must embrace the skills of each if there’s any hope for success – however they choose to measure it.

  • Writing the book is where the artist flourishes, yet the entrepreneur cannot be excluded from this phase. The art of organizing words must be guided by a knowledge of what is able to be reproduced and of potential interest to the buying public.
  • Producing the book has a creative element, but it is directed by the entrepreneur. Yet the entrepreneur must not remove the artist at the risk of producing a bland, boring book.
  • Marketing the book requires mostly the entrepreneur, though the artist needs to add his or her flare, embracing activities that produce energy and avoiding those that are draining. Yes, the author must market, but the entrepreneur needs to guide activities to what the artist can reasonably handle. If marketing kills the artist, there will be no more art.

Publishing a book requires we be an artist and an entrepreneur, embracing both and ignoring neither. May your artist side hear your entrepreneur’s voice, and may your entrepreneur side listen to your artist’s heart. That’s how to publish a book.

Are you more artist or entrepreneur? How do you let both skills be part of the process?

Book Review: Platform

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

By Michael Hyatt (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Michael Hyatt dedicates his book Platform to all the creative people who were dismissed because they lacked a platform to promote their work. As his subtitle proclaims, he wants to help them Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

Divided into five sections, Platform takes readers on a progressive journey, starting with creating a compelling product all the way to engaging their tribe. The book’s sixty concise chapters make for easy reading, moving writers and artists forward in successfully launching their product.

Packed with practical advice and easy to follow steps, Michael shares insider knowledge and firsthand experience to aid readers in their quest for a bigger platform in order to better promote and sell their work. Regardless of their platform size, Michael Hyatt’s tips can help readers develop a larger and more effective one.

Platform is an essential, must-read book for all creative people who long to share their work with a larger audience.

[Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt. Published by Thomas Nelson, 2012, ISBN: 978-1595555038, 288 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan

Book Review: APE

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book

By Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

There are many good (and a few not so good) resources that cover self-publishing. Some are in the form of books, others as podcasts, and more as blog posts.

By far the best I’ve seen is the book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. APE is an acronym for Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur, representing the three phases in self-publishing a book.

As the distinction between traditional publishing and self-publishing fades, the evolving consideration morphs into mass-produced versus artisanal publishing, a term Guy and Shawn advance as a new way of comprehending self-publishing. The vanity publishing of yesteryear can be smartly rejuvenated with a fresh perspective of artistry, hence the concept of artisanal publishing.

After all, who are writers, if not artists? So why not extend artistry to the production and dissemination of their work? The idea of artisanal publishing provides new opportunities for innovative writers seeking to share their writing with others.

APE is an essential guide for the beginner and intermediate level of self-publishers. Even the experienced practitioner is sure to pick up some new ideas. Though I wouldn’t advise anyone skip the author section, for those with a publication-ready book, the publisher section may be the place to start.

[APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. Published by Nononina Press, 2013, ISBN: 978-0988523104, 410 pages.]

The Potential of Artisanal Publishing

In Guy Kawasaki’s new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, he advances the term “artisanal publishing” as a new way of looking at self-publishing. The vanity publishing of yesteryear can be smartly rejuvenated with a fresh perspective of artistry, hence the concept of artisanal publishing.

As the distinction between traditional publishing versus self-publishing fade, the evolving consideration morphs into mass-produced versus artisanal publishing. After all, who are writers, if not artists? So why not extend artistry to the production and dissemination of their work?

The concept of artisanal publishing opens new doors and opportunities for innovative writers seeking to share their writing with others.

People like the output from artisanal bakers, might the output of artisanal publishing be just as tasty?

Consider the Future of Book Publishing

What do the days ahead hold for those of us who publish books? Given the rapid changes the industry is undergoing, we anticipate a different tomorrow, but just how much different will it be? Will today’s roles even exist in a decade or two?

Predicting the future or even anticipating what might lie ahead in the years to come is a difficult task. Although the details are unclear, three general outcomes remain assured:

Consumers of Content: Barring a cataclysmic apocalypse with survivors reduced to a subsistence life, there will always be people who will desire and consume content. Generically called art, entertainment, or education, this content could take many forms, including print, audio, video, multimedia, or interactive, but regardless of the formats, consumers will want content.

Producers of Content: As long as an audience exists, content producers will be in demand. Writers will supply content: writing, creating, inventing, and envisioning. In a way, writers will become artists, producing art for their patrons. Their art may take many forms, beyond merely the writing out of their words.

Facilitators of Content: Idealism suggests that future content producers will directly connect with content consumers. While this may happen in limited situations, middlemen will facilitate the transaction in many cases and facilitate the creation in most instances. The transaction facilitators will mass-produce and distribute the content. The content facilitators will provide today’s agents, editors, graphic designers, and publicists with tomorrow’s work, aiding tomorrow’s writers with their content.

The future of book publishing will be much different, but as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. The future is indeed bright – for those willing to see it.