The Author as Entrepreneur

First posted on the Xchyler Publishing blog, Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Way back in the Dark Ages—the 1980’s—when I was a pup without an MBA to my name, there was a guy at Harvard Business School by the name of Howard Stevenson. Howard looked around at all of the definitions of “entrepreneur”, such as: “A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture” (, and found those definitions wanting; they lacked the essential personality of what makes a person take the risks an entrepreneur faces. So he came up with his own:

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

Howard’s definition essentially boils down to this: an entrepreneur is a dreamer, practicalities be damned. Sure sounds like a writer to me!

Let’s ponder that a moment. You’re a writer, published (yet) or not. Question: In the business sense, what is it you do? Answer: you tell stories, that is, you write without regard to whether you currently control the resources to put your stories in front of readers. You hope to be able to figure out a way to do it, but in the meantime, you write. So do you fit Howard’s definition of “entrepreneur”? You betcha!

For some of us this is a new way to think about ourselves, but for some of us the truth is self-evident: authors are entrepreneurs in every real sense. Especially in Howard’s sense: we control nothing but the thoughts coming out of our heads and some way—be it a rock, a hammer, and a chisel, a parchment scroll, a quill, and a pot of ink, or a state-of-the-art cloud-based word processing system—to write them down. That’s it. We don’t own printing presses, bookstores, fancy glossy magazines . . . when we start out most of us don’t even own a little website or a Facebook page for our writing, or a Twitter account. All we have is a dream.

So Mr./Ms Author/Entrepreneur, now that you’re awake to what you’re really doing, consider this, from entrepreneur and teacher Jon Burgstone and writer Bill Murphy, Jr.:

“Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available.” – Burgstone and Murphy, Breakthrough Entrepreneurship.

Here at The X we are nothing if not kindred spirits. Without control of any of the resources of the big publishers, we have launched our leaky little kayak into the roaring rapids of publishing. Right alongside you we are figuring out the best conceivable options for new authors to bring their work to the public, and we are making them available. We invite you to dream with us, to struggle with us, to face the risks—and rewards—of imaginative storytelling right alongside us. We promise only that it will be a wild ride, worthy of the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us.

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