How to run the book selling aspects of authorship like a business

10 steps to create an Author Business Plan

We work with a variety of authors to get their marketing asses properly in gear. As such we know how important it is for writers to be aware of the things they MUST consider when starting out on the road to self-publishing success.

Have you just made the decision to go self-published? If so, did you realize the writing and Kindle store upload elements are only the beginning of your journey?

Once you’ve written your book and made it available online, the hard work starts. What are the first steps you need to take? Whether you realized it or not, you need to run things like a proper business. And the first step towards getting it right from the offset is to get organized.

Putting a commercial slant on things

Treating the entire marketing and promotion side of authorship like any other business removes a lot of the mystery and makes the practical side a lot clearer. A solid, businesslike approach transforms selling a book from an unwieldy mass of disconnected actions and considerations into something neat, tidy and a whole lot easier to achieve. The same as any other business, whether it’s selling cheese or insurance, underwear or digital marketing services, forward planning is the bunny.

Getting your business ducks in a row

What, exactly, do you need to pin down? First, let’s look at the purpose of a business plan. The plan itself needs to describe your business, objectives and strategies. It details the things you need to do to get you where you want to be and makes sensible financial forecasts, a proper benchmark to measure success against.

Having plans in writing, as you’ll appreciate, helps clarify your thoughts. It prompts you to spot gaps in your thinking, pointing up aspects you might not have considered. And it provides a logical structure to base ongoing development and bright ideas on.

10 things to pin down to create an author business plan
  1. How is your book unique? How does it differ from everyone else’s? What is your unique selling proposition? Author Libby Hellmann has written an excellent blog post about six steps to self-publishing, including great advice about the supporting information you need to publish and market a book. Creating the collateral she mentions at this stage, early on in the planning process, is a great way to get your thoughts in order. Here’s a link.
  2. Establish your target market – who is most likely to read your book? You can sub-divide your target market into segments if it’s appropriate, using them later for targeted marketing.
  3. Who are your competitors? It’s always useful to know because you can look at what they do to promote and market their books and follow suit wherever it makes sense.
  4. How big is your target market? Is it growing or shrinking? It’s good to know the potential before you start. If your entire audience consists of thirteen geeks in darkest Peru, you need to know in advance so you can make informed projections.
  5. Where does your target audience hang out? Facebook? Twitter? Writers’ blogs? Book review sites? Once you know where they like to be, you can join them and talk the right kind of turkey.
  6. Find out how much it’ll cost you to produce and sell your book. Can you do it profitably? And what’s your breakeven point?
  7. What are your goals? Be realistic and make them SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. How much money are you likely to make, looking at the worst, medium and best case scenarios?
  8. How long will it take to make the right kind of marketing impact and start turning a profit?
  9. How much will you need to invest to launch and market your book? Where will the money come from?
  10. What are the main risks you face and how will you tackle them? It’s best to be prepared.

As you can imagine, this information also helps drive your marketing plan, another essential for authors who actually want to sell their work.

Author business planning support

Don’t know where to start? There’s a huge amount of online support for creating a winning business plan, including free templates and free software. But if you need help, advice and support from a bunch of people who know the author business pretty damn well, get in touch for a chat. No strings attached.

Next time…

Next week we’ll take a look at trending topics in the self-publishing world, to help you get to grips with the way the online authorship world works from the bottom up. It’s changing fast so we’ll keep you up to date with the latest developments.

What about you?

What’s been your biggest challenge so far on the rocky route to best-sellerdom? We’d love to share your experiences with our readers – feel free to comment.


Image source: oldmantravels

Mike is CEO of PML Media Limited, a virtual agency staffed by 14 independent marketing professionals, copywriters and technical geniuses. PML helps authors build and manage their Author Platforms, social media channels, build email lists and create ongoing strategies to help boost their brand, get noticed and sell more books.

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