The best way to start any book project, blogged or written some other way, is with a plan. In How to Blog a Book, I suggested you create a business plan for your book prior to writing a word and that you do this by going through what I called the “proposal process.” This entails using a book proposal as the foundational template for your business plan. My new book, The Author Training Manual, elaborates on that process in great detail.
Even if you are writing a short book in a month, as you might be doing during National Book Blogging Month (NaBoBloMo), your book will benefit from a business plan—and so will you. It will help you produce a marketable book, one that will sell to readers in your target market. If you book sells, it gets read.
How to Produce and Evaluate a Business Plan for a Book
The following eight questions, with follow up questions, will help you produce and evaluate the information you need for your book’s business plan.
- What’s Your Book About, and Why Would Someone Want To Read (Buy) It? Can you summarize your book, provide a pitch of 75 words or less and offer a list of five or so benefits (even for a novel)? Do you really know what you’re writing about, and is your story or subject compelling—a must have or must read? Readers want to know, “What’s in it for me?” Will they find the value they seek?
- How Many People Really Might Buy Your Book? Do you know if there are enough potential readers to purchase your book—a large enough market of interested buyers? Can you describe it? And who are your ideal readers? Do they need this book or want it? Is the market large enough to justify producing the book?
- What’s the Competition, and Is Your Idea Unique and Necessary? Can you identify five bestselling books on the topic and explain how your book will be different, better and angled to the unmet needs of readers? How will you tell a different story? Is there a “hole” on the shelf waiting for your book to fill it? Why would readers buy your book rather than another?
- What’s the Structure of Your Book? Have you developed a table of contents or planned out your story line in enough detail to do so? Does that structure or story make sense? Do you have enough content or story arc? If someone read the table of contents, would they be compelled to purchase the book?
- Does Your Book’s Content Match Your Initial Vision of Your Book? Do you know enough about your book to write a chapter-by-chapter synopsis (a summary of each chapter)? Once you’ve done this, do these summaries show that the content of your book or the story you want to tell synch with your answer in #1? And will it help you target your market and do a better job than the competition (#2 and #3)?
- How Will You Brand Yourself and Earn More Money? What are your plans to write more books—series, sequels and follow ups? Do you want to build a business around your book with products and services? How do you as an author or publisher want to be known? Can you entice a publisher by showing your sense of entrepreneurship or keep your start-up publishing company afloat with your business savvy?
- Are You the Best Person to Write This Book…Now? Are your writing skills, author platform, credentials, or expert status at the point where they can help you succeed? When would be the best time to publish so you achieve maximum results, which means sales?
- Do You Make a Good Publishing Partner or Indie Publisher? Do you have a strong promotion plan that builds on a strong author platform? Are you willing to help sell books, take on marketing and promotion and generally be more than a writer? Publishers want authors who will help sell books; are you such an author? Indie publishers succeed if they promote their own books (as well as distribute them); are you willing to do this work?
Evaluate Your Book Idea
Use the information in your book’s business plan to evaluate it for marketability—its chances of selling well in a target market. This provides the key to producing a successful book. Also evaluate yourself. Without evaluation, the information in your plan is useless. If you evaluate the information and then use it to tweak, retool, reangle, or hone your book idea to make it the most unique and necessary one you can provide for your ideal readers, you will create a book with a high likelihood of selling well. If you also use the information to change your habits or develop a stronger plan to help promote your book, you’ll help it succeed.
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