52 Benefits of Being an Author


Make your expectations and goals

explicit to reap proper rewards


One of the most interesting and complex aspects of being a small-press publisher, one who has had lots of direct contact with her authors at all stages of the publishing process, is author expectations!

That authors and publishers do not share identical interests would be obvious to any businessperson, but since that was not my background it took a while for this reality to become clear to me. We both want an author’s book to be wildly successful, right? That at least was my vague, muddled view. Until the day several years ago when two separate authors with whom I had and have warm, friendly relationships sent me a New York Times piece about authors vs. publishers with a quip to the effect: We’re glad you’re not like those publishers.

It hit me instantly when I read the article: I am like those publishers, and you are like those authors. I am a publisher and you are authors. Thereafter I worked on understanding and unraveling these identity differences for win-win outcomes.

As you might suppose, one complicated element of author expectations is not that authors have them but that every author has different ones. Then there’s meeting company goals that may or may not have anything to do with the sea of author expectations around us. These come with the picturesque territory of publishing.

What optimizes the author-publisher relationship in this environment is what most concerns me about expectations, and being unequivocal about our different interests is a good start. A publisher’s top priority is the surviving and thriving of the company, not any individual book necessarily. An author’s goals are…

My sense is that many hopes are pinned on one’s book and that without a bit of reflection, every author’s goals for their book are grand and amorphous: to be wildly successful, to be a life-changing experience, and to make everything better. Sure, and world peace too. Lofty expectations are not in themselves a problem but non-specific, non-explicit lofty expectations can be. How else do you know that you have met them (and can take proper satisfaction at that)?

Here is my evolving list of the benefits I’ve seen different authors enjoy over more than two decades and hundreds of books, whether or not these results of writing a book were specifically desired or made explicit. My not-so-crazy idea is that the earlier in the publishing process an author defines for themselves what they want out of their book, the better able they are to marshal the resources necessary to achieve them (including the publisher where appropriate), the greater their results, and the greater their satisfaction. And, fortuitously, they will also enjoy plenty of unexpected rewards. In no particular order…

Community/Social Benefits

  • Gaining entry into the club of writers.

  • Participating in the community interested in one’s topic.

  • Joining the conversations related to one’s book/topic.

  • Making a difference in the lives of others.

  • Winning converts to a cause.

  • Popularizing one’s ideas.

  • Swaying public opinion.

  • Correcting misconceptions.

  • Exposing injustices.

  • Entertaining and delighting others.

  • Capturing stories before they’re lost.

  • Preserving history before it’s lost.

  • Bringing attention to local businesses.

  • Meeting interesting, new people.

  • Amplifying one’s social network.

Personal/Internal Benefits

  • Expressing oneself.

  • Creating something original, beautiful, provocative, important, and __________ (fill in the blank).

  • Experiencing elevated self-esteem.

  • Enjoying personal satisfaction for having written a book.

  • Achieving something significant.

  • Accomplishing one of the top goals of your fellow human beings, rather than just talking or thinking about doing it.

  • Springboarding to bigger and better things.

  • Opening doors (public speaking, media interviews, and business opportunities).

  • Practising a hobby more fully.

  • Learning new skills (blogging, public speaking, being media savvy, mastering social media, networking, etc.).

  • Enhancing existing skills (writing, editing, speaking, etc.).

  • Overcoming personal obstacles (procrastination, shyness, etc.).

  • Making a name for oneself.

  • Sharing unique experiences and perspectives.

  • Becoming better-known, well-known, or famous.

  • Basking in the prestige.

  • Living a fuller life.

  • Leaving a legacy.

Career/Business Benefits

  • Establishing one’s authority on a subject.

  • Showing expertise in a field.

  • Defining one’s position (role) and position (perspective) in some area.

  • Contributing to a body of knowledge.

  • Boosting one’s reputation.

  • Exhibiting leadership.

  • Leveraging the power of the printed word.

  • Complementing one’s primary business.

  • Advancing in one’s field.

  • Enlarging one’s professional network.

  • Having something to give away (a calling card, gift, or premium).

  • Developing a side business.

  • Building a platform, growing an ongoing audience.

Financial Benefits

  • Earning passive income [1] (royalties).

  • Increasing income through turning one’s book into a cottage industry [2] (re-selling, speaking fees, etc.).

  • Reaping the rewards of the content’s secondary markets (movie rights, reprint rights, etc.).

  • Finding a better-paying job (with new skills and an enhanced resumé).

  • Justifying a pay raise (increased value to one’s company).

  • Extending the reach of one’s business (passively locating new customers).

[1] It’s only passive income after you’ve done loads of unpaid work first, right? [2] A home-based, creative, and/or small-scale side hustle, enterprise, business.