Starting a business? Self-publish a book

person writing a book on a laptopAnnabel Wright, CSO of whitefox publishing, a self-publishing company, explains why putting pen to paper – and keeping control of the process – could be a smart career move for women on the road to realising their business ambitions. 

Although change is happening across many corporate boardrooms, the sad reality is there’s still a lack of gender equality and diversity among business leaders. A recent report from The International Labour Organisation found that in the arts, entertainment or recreation industries, the average number of women in executive roles is just 31%. In the US, just 8% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs, and until 2021, only one of those was Black. 

That’s not to say that women don’t have bold business ambitions. In 2021, more women than ever decided to start their own companies and pursue their personal goals. According to 2022’s Rose Review, over 140,000 businesses were set up by female founders with all-female teams in 2021.

The ‘great resignation’ trend that sprang from the Covid-19 pandemic might also explain why 2021 saw such an influx of women entrepreneurs. Whether motivated by pent-up job dissatisfaction, low wages or lifestyle changes, people resigned from their jobs in swathes – the perfect opportunity to set up your own business, and lead on your own supportive structure. 

A mirror image

In publishing, the story is slightly different. Women make up 64% of the workforce – and they hold over half of executive and senior management positions. But while publishing’s structure might be well placed to support the women in its workplace generally, delving deeper into the genre of business books gives an insight into the wider societal struggles that women face in the corporate world. 

In The Week’s ‘Ten best business books of 2021’, only two books of those listed are written by women, and one of those was co-authored with a man. Of the 200 bestselling business books in 2020, according to NPD BookScan, only 17 were written by women – which was the same number of those that were written by men named John, or Jon.

A quick scan of every Amazon best sellers list shows that there are plenty of female-identifying authors in fiction – so why aren’t they writing business books? 

Many would argue that the barriers for women entering the traditional publishing industry are mirrored by those in traditional boardrooms. So, to overcome them, one solution is to take matters into your own hands. 

Leading with authenticity 

Heidi Hauer, a holistic lifestyle coach, did just that. After spending many years navigating the corporate landscape before creating her own business, she worked with us to launch her first book. Just like her business, everything about the book was on her terms. She was given the freedom to share her ideas, when and how she wanted to, without needing to fit her story into an available slot on a publisher’s list. Every choice was hers to make – from concept to marketing. 

At whitefox, we’re also working with another founder, this time in the wine industry,who is due to release her first book in September. Although it’s not a conventional ‘business’ book, the publication will highlight her expertise and position hers as a thought leader in her field. Like many other boardroom-focussed business books, the contents complement her professional offering. 

A harmonious relationship 

Just as founding your own company gives women the chance to seize control of their business ambitions and redress leadership imbalances, self-publishing allows authors full creative control. And the two can work together harmoniously.

Which is not to say that self-publishing – like entrepreneurship – is without obstacles. Recent research found that although 70% of female business owners in Scotland believed they had what it takes to lead their own business, many encountered roadblocks securing funding. 

This is also one of the biggest barriers people face when pursuing their ambition to release a book, which is why we support our collaborators with patronship campaigns. We’ll identify the best route forward, whatever each author’s unique circumstances may be. 

By embracing each author’s distinctive voice, experience and journey – rather than homogenising the process – self-publishing is a way to ensure your book is an extension of your business. So, if you’re one of the 140,000 female-identifying founders that followed your dreams in the past year – have you ever thought about publishing your own book?

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