Successful indie authors have one thing in common: they realize that they are not only writers, they are also business owners, marketers, salespeople and much more. The reality is that authors can no longer be solely writers. If you aren’t willing to wear the other hats mentioned above, you will struggle to find success. Sure, you could try to hire people to help, but that gets expensive quickly. For the sake of this post let’s assume that you are like most indie authors and money is tight. Hiring a full-team to run your author business is out of the question. Why Do You Need A Business Plan? Without a plan most authors get lost. Business does not come natural to us. When you create a business plan it is like having a map. If you do find yourself lost you can always refer back to it to get back on track. Business plans help you avoid procrastination, focus on what really matters, avoid spending too much money and most importantly, sell more books. Below we will discuss an 8-step indie author business plan. This business plan will be much like the business plan used by the largest businesses in the world. Don’t worry, I will make sure to explain each step and how to apply it to your specific situation as an author.
The Indie Author Business Plan
1. Finalize Your Book Topic (Product)Every business starts with a product idea. As an author your product will be your book. If you already have books available for purchase, you will want to create separate business plans for each book (unless they are part of a series). It is important to not move past this step until you know what you will be writing about. Once you do have a topic idea, you will be ready to move on to step 2.
2. Write Down Goals and DeadlinesWith your book topic in mind, it is time to set specific goals and deadlines. Goals might include: writing every day, hitting a specific word count or even selling 1,000 copies. Goals are good, but they are rarely achieved without deadlines. Creating realistic deadlines are crucial. You will not write your entire book in a month. Having this type of deadline will stress you out and isn’t helpful. Your deadlines should include: when you will complete your first draft, when you will begin marketing your book, when your book will be complete and when you will achieve your sales goal. I cannot tell you what goals or deadlines to set, but I can tell you that this step can make and break your success. Take time to creating motivating goals and procrastination killing deadlines.
3. Create A Competitive AnalysisDo you know who the top selling indie authors are in your genre? How did they become so successful? What channels do they use to market and sell their books? Who is their target audience? These are all questions you need to be able to answer when creating your competitive analysis. The point of this step is to understand who your competition is, while also learning from their successes and/or failures. There are millions of authors in the world, so you will have to narrow down your competition significantly if you want to be able to analyze them. Look for the 10-15 authors that you share the most in common with (same genre, similar topic, shared target audience, etc). Now study what has helped them succeed and take notes. You will want to use this information to help shape your strategy moving forward.
4. Create A Marketing PlanThe competitive analysis is a major component of your marketing plan. If you plan on selling a large quantity of books, you will need to master the basics of marketing. In my experience marketing is where most authors fail. It is important to start thinking about your marketing plan as early as possible. In fact, one could argue that you should consider a marketing plan even before you begin writing your book. Doing so will ensure there is an audience for the book you are writing. Many authors are surprised to realize that once they finish a book there isn’t actually a large enough audience interested in what they wrote about. Talk about a bummer. Let’s avoid this by creating a marketing plan early on. So what should you include in your marketing plan? Here are a few components it must include:
- Target customer: age, gender, location, interests, etc.
- Marketing channels: social media, blog, in person events, etc.
- Pricing strategy: how much will you sell your paperback, hardcover and eBook for?
- Special offers: will you offer discounts or give away the first few chapters for free?