If you are like most aspiring authors, the idea of becoming a published author probably excites you. Even if you are planning to produce a book to boost your business, adding “author” to your credentials could represent the fulfillment of a dream you’ve had your whole life or might catapult you into the ranks of the other authorities and thought leaders in your industry.
It’s important to realize, however, that if you decide to self-publish you don’t just become an author. You also become a publisher. And with that new title comes a new start-up business.
Author vs. Entrepreneur
If you are like most aspiring authors, you may just want to write (or blog). You may have no desire to become an entrepreneur. Most writers don’t realize that when they decide to self-publish their work they make a decision to go into business.
In fact, when you choose to self-publish a book—any type of book—you go into business for yourself. You actually become a publisher and open a publishing company. You go into the business of writing, producing, and publishing your own books. To a certain extent, you also are responsible for distributing those books, or for finding a way to do so.
If you are blogging books to support your existing business, you now have a new business venture to support. As with any other business, it takes time, effort…and money.
How to Create a Business Plan for Your Indie Publishing Company
Besides your good, marketable book ideas, you need a variety of things to get your publishing business up and running. First, and foremost, you need a business plan.
Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you a plan is necessary to start a company.
A book proposal serves as a great template for such a plan since initially you are creating a plan that revolves around one book. You don’t need to traditionally publish to use it as your business plan; a book proposal serves as an excellent business plan for an indie publisher as well. This template can be expanded to serve as a business plan for your whole publishing company. I write about this extensively in my new book, The Author Training Manual.
A book proposal is used to prove to a publisher the marketability of a book idea. You want to prove to yourself, since you are the publisher, that your book idea is viable—that it will sell and make you money. And you want to make sure it will enhance, not detract from, your current business.
Seven Essential Publishing Business Plan Elements
Here are seven essential elements that should be in every publishing entrepreneur’s business plan (in addition to the sections of a book proposal).
- A “Resources Necessary to Complete the Book” Calculation
Before you begin any business, or any project, be sure you can afford it. Aspiring authors are often shocked at the cost of editing a manuscript, for instance, which can prove much more costly than design. Determine what resources you need to complete your book. At the minimum, these can include:
- ISBN numbers
- Ebook conversion
- Bar codes
- Review copies
- A Break-Even Analysis
It’s extremely difficult to achieve success if you haven’t defined it. The publishing industry defines success in terms of book sales, and, as a publisher, sales must become part of your definition. Must you sell 500, 1,000 or more copies per year to earn back your investment and start making money? A “break-even analysis” will help you determine this. This entails knowing what it cost to produce your book. Beyond this, how much money do you want to make?
Most companies have monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual goals to meet. This helps them continuously move toward their vision of success—their long-term goal. As the publisher, it’s up to you to create the goals for your company.
- A Promotion Plan
Be sure you create a sound promotion plan for your book. Promotion helps sell books, so this is an important aspect of the book publishing business.
- A Profit and Loss Statement
To keep track of how your company fares financially, you need a profit and loss statement. This allows you to determine if your start up is getting out of the red and into the black. You need to know if your company is actually making money—or if you are losing it. If you publish more than one book, you’ll need to track each.
- Contractor Lists, License Information and Legal Plans
Create a list of contractors you will use to help you run your business—editors, designers, virtual assistants, accountants, etc. Then make a list of the licenses you will need, such as to set up your business in the county where you live, with the tax office, etc. Then make a list of additional business-related things you need to do, such as set up bank accounts and possibly incorporate your business to reduce personal liability.
- Branding Plans
Make sure you have plans for a website, logo and how you might develop your brand with more books and related products and services. A good publisher always thinks beyond one book. In fact, you’ll sell more books if you write more books. And you’ll earn more money as an author if you brainstorm additional ways to build a business around your book.
The most successful start-up companies are based on sound business plans. If you are already a business person, you know this. Now apply it to your desire to become an author and self-publish a book (or more than one)—to become a successful publisher. If you are writing a book to start a business venture, then treat your desire to get published like an entrepreneurial venture from day one. If you see yourself as a publisher, you’ll be more successful if you do. If you are “just a writer,” it’s time to find a business hat and start thinking like a businessperson. Become an authorpreneur and open the doors to your start-up publishing company.
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