What all business authors do

I’ve been working with and interviewing a lot of authors lately. I am trying to get at what makes them tick.

While it is true that they aren’t altruists — they’re in it boost their own standing and businesses, of course — I am beginning to think I’m getting to the nub of what’s important to them.

So try these generalizations on for size:

  • Business authors thrive on impact. If they can enable people to change in a positive way, they are happy.
  • Business authors help. To be successful, their books must help people. That might mean helping you with strategy, with best practices, with personal productivity, or with being creative, but above all, their books must help you, or they fail.
  • Business authors are never satisfied. Once they publish, they want to publish more.
  • Business authors crave relationship. That is why in addition to writing, they speak, run workshops, or consult. (Of course, that also generates revenue.)
  • Business books are way for authors to say “this is what I am, this is what I know” to as many people as possible.

Putting these generalizations aside, there is a huge amount of diversity:

Some authors are narrowly focused, others appeal to just about everybody.

Some authors have vibrant speaking careers, others rarely speak.

Some love to write, others find it painful.

Some write free-form beginning to end, others make elaborate plans.

Some write a personal way, like a conversation, while others are more like researchers and academics.

Some want to build a significant business around their ideas, others are content to be one-person shops that can do what they want.

Some plan elaborate book launches, others just trust that their content will reach its audience.

Some insist on traditional publishers, others are happy to hire hybrid publishers to have more control over their work (and more profit if it takes off).

Some have made millions off their books (mostly from ancillary products), while others have seen very little impact. But very few regret having published what they hope is their best work.

About the only other thing they agree on is they are disappointed in or frustrated with their publishers, especially traditional publishers.

Based on this research so far, I am skeptical about generalizations. But I think the ones at the top of this post hold true.

What do you think?

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    1. Advances, editing, lack of editing, covers, titles, slowness of publishing schedule, marketing promises not delivered on, distribution, printing, publicity, royalty accounting, turnover, foreign translations . . . I’ve heard all of these and more. Most publishers are good at most things, but authors always find something they’re not happy with.

  1. I publish in the Inspirational, Mind-Body-Spirit genres. All of your generalizations are right on for me also. In your listed diversities I am: narrowly focused, speak, enjoy writing, am more free-form at the beginning, write in a personal way, building a biz around my writing, trust my content will reach its audience, self-published (no hybriding), have no regrets for how and what I’ve done, and am having a great time being an author and learning from my readers.

  2. So when it comes to business authors, one size does not fit all, but you were able to generate plausible-sounding generalizations about them. How many authors did you interview or work with that got you to a place where you could generalize?

  3. I do believe there is a subset of business authors who write for the publicity and authenticity that a book brings, with hope that it leads to more speaking gigs, more workshops, and more clients, but they still believe in your second generalization – that they are there to help. The book is just a tool to help them convince you to let them help you.