Optimising Your Author Business to Your Personality
The publishing industry is full of acronyms, from D2D to AMS to CPC. Understanding what savvy, well-versed authors are talking about can be overwhelming when you first encounter their jargon. Learning to translate it mid-conversation, however, is rewarding. It feels like a rite of passage after months of immersing yourself in the community. Although, there is one set of acronyms that even many seasoned self-publishers won’t recognise.
ENTJ – ISFP – ENSJ – INTP
Any idea? If not, don’t worry. These aren’t ebook aggregators or paid advertising terms. You don’t need them to upload your book to Amazon or calculate series read-through. In fact, they don’t represent publishing terms at all.
They represent you.
They come from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a personality test that, according to Very Well Mind, “is a self-report inventory designed to identity a person’s personality type, strengths, and preferences.” Created by mother-daughter team, Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, it takes the form of a questionnaire and, since its conception, has become the most popular personality test in the world.
Completing it teaches users what sorts of work aligns with the way they think. And while the MBTI isn’t a primary publishing tool, it can help you understand your own psychology, which can provide surprising benefits for authors. Answering its questions will categorise you as one of 16 personality types, presented as four-letter acronyms or nicknames like “Commander” or “Adventurer”. The words the acronyms represent include:
Extroversion or Introversion
Sensing or Intuition
Thinking or Feeling
Judging or Perceiving
This test might sound too vague to benefit authors. After all, we already know what career we want, right? But while that’s true, authors have extremely varied businesses. You can spend your time writing, editing, speaking, advertising, consulting, co-writing, networking, crowd-funding, live-streaming and more! Every author’s day is different. What this test does is help you gain insights into your personality to align your author activities with the way you like to live for optimal results and happiness.
There’s a link to the test at the end of this post. First, however, read on to discover how you could interpret your result to improve your business and work satisfaction.
Extroverts and Introverts
The first letter in your MBTI acronym will be either “E” or “I” – extroversion or introversion. Those two terms have varied connotations but here they simply indicate how a person interacts with their world. Extroverts, by nature, tend to be sociable individuals who draw energy from the company of others. They also tend to be action-orientated, favouring tangible actions that alter their environment. Introverts, in contrast, are typically more thought-orientated and prefer to spend more time reflecting on ideas before acting. They also get exhausted by social interaction. Spending time alone recharges them.
You won’t necessarily be a total extrovert or introvert as humans are complex creatures. The MBTI will, however, give you an overall impression of where you fall on the scale. Once you know it, you can make more informed business decisions to aid your stress levels and natural talents. For example, if you’ve been struggling to write alone, it could be because you’re an extrovert. In that case, a co-writing project could be your answer. Or, if that doesn’t interest you, you could work in a communal workspace such as a coffee shop or organise writing sprint sessions on Zoom with you writing buddies. Similarly, if networking has drained your vigour for writing, it could be because you’re an introvert. Knowing this to be true, pivoting your business to rely more heavily on advertising over networking could reignite the spark.
Sensing and Intuition
Letter two in your MBTI acronym will be either an “S” or a “N” which represent sensing and intuition, the markers for how you gather information to inform your choices. Those considered sensing individuals tend to pay more attention to facts and observations they can learn from their senses. Those who rely on intuition, meanwhile, instead more readily spot and extrapolate patterns to predict potential future opportunities. In essence, sensing humans are grounded in reality while intuition-reliant ones favour abstract theories.
Say you’re a sensing author who wants to write for profit; you might look at retailer charts, see what books are selling right now and write something similar to get in on a proven money-making trend. An intuiting author, meanwhile, might purchase a market-tracking report from a company like K-Lytics and try to figure our what under-served sub-genres are on the rise. Releasing a book and positioning it ahead of a coming wave, they’d theorise, will enable them to become a big name in that space before it gains mainstream appeal with readers. Both approaches can deliver good results, but knowing your personality type can make you aware of why you favour certain approaches and help you assess which one is likely to align with your personality.
Thinking and Feeling
Your third letter will be either “T” or “F” – thinking or feeling, which identify the overall way you make decisions after gathering information. Thinkers are often seen as sterile and logical while feelers can sometimes be considered emotional and empathetic. Neither type of person is better, just different. Both are necessary and equally capable of succeeding in publishing. Their paths to success, though, often differ considerably.
Thinking authors who tend to be consistent and logical but impersonal, for instance, might:
- Refuse to miss a deadline despite someone wanting their attention
- Collaborate exclusively with popular authors to guarantee growth by association
- Prefer to stay in their lane rather than fighting a cause in the community
Meanwhile, feeling authors might:
- Engage more with existing fans online rather than writing to grow their audience
- Collaborate with less popular authors because they like them or see potential
- Fight causes for their community, reasoning that their work will benefit everyone
Most authors flipflop between thinking and feeling, often depending on their mood and circumstances. You can’t spend all day talking to fans or fighting for the little guy if you need to pay your mortgage, after all. Sometimes, you must apply your own oxygen mask first to stay in a position to help others. Aligning at least some of your decisions with your personality, however, will leave you feeling fulfilled.
Judging and Perceiving
The final MBTI letter in your acronym will be “J” or “P” which stand for judging and perceiving, and represent a preference for structure or spontaneity. Despite the negative connotations that “judging” might conjure, judgers don’t pick holes in others with an air of superiority. In this context, they make final judgements, finding tranquillity in making rigid plans and executing them. They enjoy structure and firm decisions. Perceiving individuals, on the other hand, often prefer to test strategies and adapt their course of action after perceiving the effect, whether on their mental health, relationships or their audience’s reaction.
As a judging author, you might plan to write 2,000 first-draft words every day and release six LitRPG titles in a year to build a targeted audience at rapid speed. And once you’d made the decision, you would hit that goal no matter what. A perceiving author, meanwhile, might notice the intense writing routine is causing other elements of their work or life to suffer and pivot to prioritise fewer launches that allow more time for marketing and rest. Or they might find that they dislike writing seven days a week and opt to write only on weekdays. They might also move a launch day to align with a topical news story or write some books in a different genre if they want a break from LitRPG.
Using your MBTI report, you can figure out what actions will best suit your personality and shape your author business model to lean into your strengths. Whether you’re debating over getting into speaking gigs or writing to market, your report can provide you with insights on which choice will best suit your personality. If you haven’t taken the test already, you can find a free online version here.
Remember, though, that your MBTI doesn’t have to determine the way you run your business. If your vision for happiness conflicts with what it deems your current personality type, you can strive for that vision in spite of the result. As humans, our personalities sway depending on our moods and are always developing. Introverts can still succeed in an arena that favours extroverts and sensing individuals can learn to perceive patterns. The Myers-Briggs test can help you identify ways to optimise your business to suit your current personality but it doesn’t account for the person you have the potential to be.
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