The idea of becoming a published author is an exciting one. Even if you are planning to produce an ebook, rather than a printed book, 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 or boost your business. It also could provide you with the opportunity to make a positive and meaningful difference in your readers’ lives and in the world.
It’s important to realize, however, that if you decide to self-publish you are not just becoming an author. You are also becoming 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. 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 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 write books to support or to build your existing business, you now have a new 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 unique, marketable book ideas, 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 the template for such a plan since initially you are creating a business that revolves around one book. You don’t need to traditionally publish to use a proposal as your business plan; a book proposal serves as an excellent business plan for an indie publisher as well. This template can be expanded, as you will see below, to serve as a business plan for your whole publishing company. I write about this extensively in my new book, The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively.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 at least earn back your investment if not make money. That’s how a traditional publisher evaluates a project.
You may one day want to submit an idea to a traditional publisher, however, and your experience building your indie book business plan gives you the ability to do so.
What Goes Into a Book’s Business Plan or a Book Proposal
There are many books that will tell you what goes into a book proposal. I’ve recently added another to the mix. It’s called The Nonfiction Book Proposal Demystified: An Easy-Schmeasy Guide to Writing a Business Plan for Your Book. Of course, The Author Training Manual is the definitive guide on “business plans” for books and also discusses the sections of a book proposal or plan.
- Overview: a brief description of your book that includes a pitch and a list of benefits.
- Markets: a brief description of the market or markets your book targets.
- Competitive Titles: an analysis of the books that represent competition and how yours will be unique and necessary in the category.
- Comparative Titles: an list of the books that represent comparative titles and how the marketability of yours is supported by these titles.
- Author Bio: a description of who you are and why your posses the experience or credentials to write this book.
- Author Platform: a description, including any relevant numbers or statistics, that show how you have created visibility, reach, authority, or influence in your target market pre-release of the book that has resulted in a built-in readership for your book.
- Promotion Plan: a list of all the ways you will promote your book upon release and over time.
- Mission Statement: a brief statement of why you feel compelled to write this book.
- Spin-offs: the additional related books you will write.
- List of Chapters: the table of contents for your book.
- Chapter Summaries: a chapter-by-chapter synopsis.
Seven Essential Publishing Business Plan Sections
In addition to the basic sections of a business plan or book proposal, which you can learn more about in either of the two books mentioned above, as an indie publisher you will want to include additional sections. Here are seven essential section that should be in every publishing entrepreneur’s business plan.
- 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
The most successful start-up companies are based on sound business plans. If you are already a business person, you know this. If you consider yourself “just a writer,” you need to learn this. In either case, you must apply it to your desire to become an author and self-publish an ebook (or more than one)—to become a successful publisher. Treat your desire to get published like an entrepreneurial venture from day one. See yourself as a publisher, and you’ll be more successful if you do.
How to Craft a Proposal for a Book that Sells
A 6-week course on how to write a
business plan for a successful book
Learn how to write a book proposal that convinces agents and acquisitions editors your book is a viable product and that you make a good business partner so they are eager to work with you and to help bring your book to market. Also, discover how to use the “proposal process” as a creative one that helps you produce a book that will sell to a publisher and to readers upon release. Find out how developing a proposal can help you craft a successful career as an author as well as a success book no matter what type of book you write or how you decide to publish.
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