If you tend to write when you feel inspired, from a sense of soul purpose or simply because the creative urge takes over, the idea of creating a business plan for your book, and doing so before you even begin writing, may feel like a huge turn off to you. Yet, I bet you want to produce a successful book—one that sells a lot of copies or becomes a bestseller. To do that, you must take into consideration that publishing is a business, the business of producing, distributing and selling books, including the book you want to write and publish. And success in the publishing industry is, indeed, gauged by book sales—above average book sales.
Your Book is a Product for Sale
No matter how you decide to publish, ultimately your book ends up a product in the marketplace—a product for sale. Yes, your passion, creativity, authenticity, and even inspiration make it stand out from the pack. However, often, more than these things, a bestseller is created by your ability to:
- write a book that is unique in a category
- write a book that is necessary in a market and a category
- write a book that targets a large potential audience
- successfully target and promote to a market
Not only that, your own ability to sell that book makes it successful. That means you need:
- an author platform
- a promotion plan
You Need a Business Plan
To ensure you and your book have all these elements, create a business plan for your book—the moment inspiration hits. That’s right. Do not just sit down and begin writing. (Okay, you can get the first really juicy stuff down on paper if you must!) Sit down and begin planning out the most marketable “product” you can produce. Why? To give your book the highest potential of succeeding once it hits that marketplace. You don’t want to spend months, maybe years, working on a book that sells the average 300 copies or so (or less). That’s heartbreaking.
To create a business plan for your book, start with the industry standard—no matter how you plan to publish: a book proposal. This IS a business plan for a book. (If you plan to self-publish you need a business plan for your book, especially since you will be a start-up publishing company. Use the book proposal as a template for your business plan.)
A business plan, or proposal, asks you eight questions. Answer them, and then evaluate your answers. It’s the evaluation that provides the tool for producing a marketable book, or viable product. So don’t just answer the questions. Evaluate the answers!
Here are the questions with follow-ups to help in your evaluation:
- 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? 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? And who are your ideal readers? Do they need this book or want it?
- What’s the Competition, and Is Your Idea Unique and Necessary? Can you identify five bestselling books on the topic and say how your book will be different, better and angled to the unmet needs of readers? Why would readers buy your book rather than another?
- What’s the Structure of Your Book? Have you developed a table of contents that creates a sound structure for your book and that is compelling enough to make someone purchase the book?
- Does Your Book’s Content Match Your Initial Vision of Your Book? Can you write a chapter-by-chapter synopsis (a summary of each chapter) that shows that the content of your book synchs up with your answer in #1? And will your content target your market and improve on what the competition has done(#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?
- Are You the Best Person to Write This Book…Now? Do you have the writing skills, author platform, credentials, or expert status to help you succeed?
- 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?
Adding the Soul
Once you’ve accumulated all the information necessary for a business plan, or proposal, and you’ve evaluated your idea, you can use this analysis to tweak your idea and make it as marketable as possible. This may still feel like “all business.” Some say it takes all the fun, as well as the creativity, out of the process. It doesn’t have to.
Think of it this way:
You retool, rework, remold your initial idea. You put your creativity to use in the most effective manner. You still end up writing your original idea—just with some new angles, additions or approaches.
And you make these changes prior to beginning to write your manuscript. That means when you do put your hands on the keyboard you invite your muse to join you, tap into your Higher Self, and connect to your soul purpose. You can write with the confidence that allows you to do so freely and easily. Your writing can be authentic and creative, because your idea is still yours. But now you know you will produce a manuscript targeted to your ideal reader or market and that you feel certain will improve on anything published to date. That means you will write a book that is creative as well as marketable, a book that will touch many lives because it will sell many copies.