Tag Archives: Business plan

Writing an Author’s Business Plan

All authors should have a business plan for every book they write, regardless of whether the author plans to self-publish or pursue traditional publication. In many cases, the business plan can even help to clarify the choice.
Traditional business plans have seven components:
1. Executive summary
2. Business description
3. Market strategies
4. Competitive analysis
5. Design and development plan
6. Operations and management plan
7. Financial factors
The business plan for a book parallels this structure, with a few changes.

First of all, the business plan is not a book proposal. The proposal is a tool non-fiction and some fiction authors use to sell a book “on spec”,  before the book is written. By contrast, a business plan is the author’s personal,  often private, “road map” for writing, marketing, publishing and promoting a work.
Each section of a successful one-book business plan should contain:
Traditional “Executive Summaries” contain a half-page synopsis and summary of a business plan. In many cases, they’re written last, or written first and revised when the rest of the business plan is complete. In the author’s one-book business plan, the executive summary will contain a one-paragraph description of the book itself, along with a description of its genre, target audience, current status and other “at-a-glance” relevant facts.
The Business Description (perhaps better renamed “book description”) contains a longer synopsis of the work – one page, or possibly two.
Marketing Strategies will normally contain three sub-sections or components: pre-release marketing, release week (or “around release”), and marketing efforts after the initial release publicity push.
A Competitive Analysis requires the author to look at competing or similar works in the marketplace, analyze why readers will (or should) want the author’s book instead, examine strategies the author can use to maximize advantages and minimize weaknesses, and acknowledge and address potential weaknesses in the work and the marketing plan.
The Development Timeline (a change from the traditional “design and development” label) includes multiple timelines. The first development timeline covers the writing process: the deadlines (contractual or self-imposed) for writing the book. Authors pursuing traditional publication but not yet represented by agents will want a plan and timeline for obtaining representation, whereas independent authors will need a timeline for the production and publishing process. Marketing and appearance timelines may also prove useful, especially for authors with complicated or busy schedules.
In an author’s business plan, the Operations and Management Plan  may be simple or very complex, depending on the level of organization the author needs and the amount of assistance he or she anticipates.
Finally, the author’s business plan must consider various Financial Factors. As with Operations and Management, this may be simple or may be very complex. This is a good place to assemble information about the costs of publishing – traditional or independent – and to create a marketing and travel budget. Solid research here can help the author put valuable marketing dollars into places where they make a positive difference, rather than simply throwing money into a project without knowing whether or not results will follow.

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Eight Reasons Every Book Needs a Business Plan to Achieve Success

No matter how you want to publish, and whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you should produce a business plan for each and every book you write and publish—before writing a word of your manuscript. Let me offer you eight good reasons why I believe this is an important practice if you want to achieve success as an author.
1. A business plan helps you hone your message or story into a viable product.
You don’t want to discover after you finish your manuscript that it isn’t marketable. That means no one will buy it—not readers or a publisher. It’s much better to ensure you create a marketable book idea from the start, and then write that book. A business plan forces you to create a focused book pitch, something difficult to do if you don’t know what you are writing about. That pitch offers you, and, ultimately, readers, a clear statement about your book’s benefits, why someone would want to read your book rather than someone else’s book on the same topic or with a similar story. It ensures you provide value to readers in your category and market. If you can’t provide value in the marketplace, you don’t have a viable product.
2. A business plan helps you determine if a market exists for your book.
Before you write your entire manuscript you also want to ensure you know who you are writing for and that you have a large enough market. A large market makes a book profitable. When you create a business plan for your book, you conduct a market analysis and determine how many potential readers exist for your book and where you might find them. When you know there are enough people in the world who might buy your book, and that you can target them with your promotion efforts, that justifies writing it.
3. A business plan helps you produce a unique and necessary book.
Conducting a competitive analysis, another part of producing a business plan for your book, forces you to take a close look at what other authors in the same category have already done with similar books. You can then compare and contrast their successful books to your own book idea. This helps you produce a book that is unique as well as necessary compared to those already published in the category. You surely don’t want to write a book that is just like all the others. Rather, you want to write a book that is different enough to make it stand out from the pack.
4. A business plan helps you create a marketable structure and content for your book.
A business plan includes a table of contents and chapter summaries (or a synopsis—although I suggest all authors produce chapter summaries). If you go to the trouble of doing this and then comparing your proposed content to your market and competitive analysis, you have an opportunity to tweak your book idea further. When you’ve finished this part of your plan, you stand little chance late in your book writing process of discovering you have produced a manuscript that is scattered, rambling, misses the point, left out important parts of the story, or leaves out essential information.
5. A business plan allows you to tweak your idea for maximum product viability.
At this point in the business plan creation process, you can go back to the beginning and rework your pitch to ensure that your initial book idea matches the final idea you have created based upon market and competition studies. You also can recheck the benefits—the value—you plan to provide readers. If your book sounds compelling, necessary and unique after you make any final changes, you’re ready to begin writing. You’ve crafted a viable book idea.
6. A business plan offers you an opportunity to plan for success.
Whether you self-publish or land a traditional publishing deal, the promotion plans you implement before and upon release of your book determine your book’s success (how many copies it sells). That’s why every book’s business plan needs a promotion section, which is actually a plan of its own. Since promotion needs to begin the moment that light bulb goes off in your head, it makes sense that you should start planning how you will promote your book before you even begin writing it. To do that, however, you need to have done your market analysis.
7. A business plan helps you evaluate your readiness to publish.
If you plan to self-publish, you could do so at any time. But that doesn’t make it the right time. Traditional publishers determine if nonfiction writers are ready to publish by evaluating the size of their author platform, the built-in readership they have created by increasing their visibility, reach, authority, and influence in their target market. Author platform can help fiction writers land publishing deals as well. And platform helps all authors create successful books. A fan base, or a large, loyal following of people who know you means a higher likelihood of selling more books upon release. As you create your business plan, you should analyze the size of your platform and determine if now represents the best time for you to release a book.
8. A business plan helps you determine if you are a one-book author.The more books you write, the more books you sell. When you write a business plan for your book, you take time to consider spin-off books, sequels and series. This can be important if you want to create a business around your book, brand yourself, or attract a traditional publisher.

The Bottom Line:
A Business Plan Helps You Produce a Successful Book
All eight of these reasons can be condensed down to one: Creating a business plan for your book helps you produce a successful book. Without creating a business plan prior to writing your book you risk producing a manuscript—and later a published book—with no market value. That means it won’t sell many copies. If you do produce a business plan for your book before you write it, you have a high likelihood of producing a viable—marketable—book idea. That means when you actually write the book and publish it, the book will sell—to publishers and, ultimately, to readers.

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