If you’re in the business of making a living as a professional author, you need a business plan. Maybe you have one for your overall writing business, one with cash flow, budget, action plans – all the bells and whistles of a corporate plan.
First, let me say: You you need to plan for all your books individually. Every book. Each book.
Each one of your books has a life of its own even if it’s part of a series. I think this is a point every writer who has been published a couple-few times has come to realize. Each book takes those first steps out into the world all wobbly, some depending on siblings, some only children. But each is brand spanking new to the world of readers.
Each book needs a game plan, which is another way – in some creative circles a more acceptable way – of saying business plan.
And here’s why that is so easy: If you spent some time and did it right, then
Take a look at the book proposal we ask you to create when you submit a book to Lucky Bat Books; look at it from a business point of view. I happen to have a copy right here: The Fiction Proposal Outline.
It’s just five sections, but when you finish it, you’ll know your product, have identified a target audience and know what tools you have, and what tools you need, to reach them. Here are those elements.
Summarize the action of the story: Your story, your product. This is what you are selling to your readers. Know what you’re selling and know it inside and out, character, storyline, style and plot. This is easy: you wrote the book. Now put it down in synopsis form and you have something to show around.
Genre, word count, target audience: Know your reader, your audience, your customer (your best target for sales) and then figure out how to find them and how to talk to them. Where are they on the Internet? In local bookstores, newspapers, magazines, libraries? Study your reader and his/her habits. Go where they are and show-and-tell your book. Find your readers and you are halfway to success.
Explain how your book is different: Differentiating yourself in the market is an important piece of any business plan. Why does your target reader want to read your book? I don’t think we all compete with each other as writers; we share readers and readers can be loyal to you and several others all at the same time. But still: what makes your book different so I’ll want that new experience? Why your book?
Bio – You and Your Assets: Know yourself, your resources, and what you come into the marketplace already possessing. Do you have a strong footing in the book world or are you starting out? Or are you in between somewhere? And, most importantly, what do you, personally, intend to do to give your book life (after the birthing stage of writing it). This includes several business tools: conferences, presentations, visits, tours, interviews, media appearances – virtual and in-person. Plus companion books, other books to leverage, blog equity.
Internet Tools: Website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Evaluate the tools you have at your disposal. What have you done with them and how much are you investing (time and dollars) into building these marketing tools? The Internet is one of your top-performing marketing tools, no matter how much you do in any other marketing arena.
The beauty of the book proposal for you as a writer is that it can be a labor of love: An opportunity to look closely at the story you created and the characters you lived with while creating. And it’s a strong center for a successful business plan.