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The Teen Bookworms’ Guide to Starting a Business

You’ll read anything, from the latest bestseller to the ingredients on a box of cereal. You’re on a first-name basis with your local librarian. You finish school-assigned reading overnight and then read five more books before the end of the week. You write book reports for fun. You’re a bookworm, and you’re proud of it.

Why not make some money off it?

For you book lovers out there, keep reading for ideas on how to set yourself up as a young entrepreneur. Whether you read for quantity or quality, consider starting one of these businesses. Startups based on a passion are the best way to begin an entrepreneurial journey! 

EDITING & PROOFREADING

If you sleep with your AP Stylebook under your pillow, editing and proofreading could be your life’s calling. Consider:

  • Just because someone is a good storyteller doesn’t necessarily mean they are good at the craft of writing
  • Even the most experienced writers miss grammar mistakes and formatting flaws
  • Polished, quality book or essay writing isn’t the same as email or social media writing

One of the biggest upsides of this job is that you get paid to read books. The downside? You may have to deal with some seriously messy writing. Which is why you can choose how involved you get in your clients’ work. You can check for grammar and punctuation, edit for style and tone, or just do an overall impression of the work. 

As a teen, you may find it difficult to be totally honest with your clients when they need corrections. Keep in mind that you are a young entrepreneur, and this is your business. You’re getting paid to be honest (not mean) about mistakes!

Start by editing some of your friends’ essays or volunteering for your school’s literary magazine. Ask them to get the word out. 

Some online lit mags also take volunteers to help them read through the “slush” piles (stories submitted by the general public). This is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door if you are already considering a career in publishing or editing!

BOOK PODCAST

Yes, we’re suggesting you add one more podcast to the vast universe of podcasts out there. Why not?

Those of you who dominate your English class’s discussions will be natural book podcasters. This tutorial can help you get started on the technical side. The rest is up to you. Get as specific as you like. No matter what your overall theme, there is an audience out there.

  • LGBTQIA+ YA paranormal romances
  • Classic horror novels with strong female protagonists
  • The newest celebrity memoirs
  • Cozy mysteries where at least one character has a cat

You get the idea.

As a member of Gen-Z, you are uniquely suited to providing a fresh perspective on both new and established literature. The old model of deciding what makes a “classic” no longer applies. Tell us all about it. Show us what’s new. Share with us why you love the books you do. Widen someone else’s reading horizons!

BOOK REVIEWER

Like podcasting, this job is for young entrepreneurs who take their books very seriously and have lots of opinions.

But reviewing books takes more than deciding whether or not you enjoyed a book. At the very least, you should be able to reasonably break down what you liked and what didn’t work for you. Did you notice any themes? Subplots? Gorgeous writing style?

For those young entrepreneurs who are serious about becoming book reviewers, keep in mind that this job goes beyond posting your hot takes on social media. Consider hosting a blog devoted entirely to your book reviews. Submit reviews to online markets or advertise your review blog around the digital literary verse.

Once you’ve established yourself, you may find publishers and authors sending you books for free! (Just remember to stay objective and disclose any freebies.)

MAKE AND SELL BOOKMARKS

If we say the phrase “dog-eared pages,” do you shudder with contempt? Can you color, cut, draw, or glue? Then you might be a bookmark entrepreneur!

This is a book-related career with plenty of upsides and few downsides. To get started, you’ll need:

  • Materials
  • Padded envelopes for shipping
  • An online shop

That’s it. The startup cost to sell bookmarks is fairly low, so even if you lack artistic skills this could be worth a shot. 

As you build your business, decide what will make YOUR bookmarks unique. Why should a customer spend money on your product rather than, say, grabbing a nearby Post-It? Maybe try customizing your bookmarks for customers, or creating bookmarks based on literary genres, fandoms, or holidays.

As a bonus, why not start a bookmark subscription service? Plenty of readers out there want new bookmarks for each new book they read!

RUN AN ONLINE BOOK SWAP

Sharing is caring, as they say. They also say reduce, reuse, and recycle. A book swap covers all those pithy phrases.

Buying books in print can get expensive. It also takes up a massive amount of space. And while e-books continue to rise in popularity, there are still enough people out there who prefer the smell and feel of a book in their hands. For those potential customers, we suggest you start an online book swap. Yes, there’s a certain irony in that.

The idea is you start and maintain a membership-driven website that connects readers. For a small fee, they can join and then share their print books with other members, as well as receive books for free. Everyone wins: readers get new books, the earth has less trash, and you make a profit!

WRITE BOOKS

This might not be the quickest way to make money through a love of books, but don’t scroll past just yet. Thanks to services like Kindle Direct Publishing, anyone can write a book and sell it on the world’s largest marketplace. 

Keep in mind that there’s more to becoming a published author. Other things to consider:

  • Cover art
  • Self-promotion
  • Formatting

You’ll need to connect with some friends who have chosen the above book entrepreneurship paths to help you get started, especially with editing and proofreading. Sloppy writing, careless mistakes, and glaring typos are a sure way to get 1-star reviews and lose sales.

Once your manuscript is ready to go, educate yourself on Amazon’s advertising process and other ways you can promote your book. No one’s going to buy a book they can’t find. A quick Google search for “author self-promotion” will bring you to thousands of pages of advice and tips for new writers looking to make cash via self-publishing.

Books have been around for a long time, and they aren’t going anywhere. The clever young entrepreneur knows that a love of books is just the beginning of a fantastic startup. And while the joy of a new story is its own reward, cold hard cash is also fun!

Click here to learn how the Kantner Foundation helps young entrepreneurs by offering college scholarships to Florida high school students.


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