Tag Archives: Marketing plan

Putting Together the Plan

Alright, it’s been a while, but like I said, I’ve been busy with my own deadlines to meet. We talked last time about building a plan for your book and how it should have a marketing scheme set up 2-4 months prior. Also, I mentioned that this timetable (the one I gave in the blog post before this)… “Imagine that this is the skeleton for your book’s body. Now we need to fill it in with skin tissue, organs, nerves, etc.”  So, let’s fill that in with all the good stuff now! Just a disclaimer, there is no order to the bullet points within each section, just make sure you cover them all.

(pre-timeline) When you make the conscious decision that self-publishing is the way to go, here are a few things you want to get done immediately:

  • Write Library of Congress to get your LCCN
  • Join Independent Book Publishers Association (great source for independent authors)
  • Obtain a PO Box (this is because most self-published authors work from their home to avoid overhead costs of a facility. This PO box will make the business look for professional)
  • Subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly Magazine (you will want to do this to eventually start to create buzz about your book)
  • Get your ISBN number. You really don’t need to worry about the barcodes now. And don’t buy them from Bowker, you can get them for much much cheaper than $25 bucks.
  • Create your publishing company name (discussed earlier) or have a plan of what you want to do with self-publishing (createspace, lightning source, offset presses). YOU DO NOT NEED TO CREATE A PUBLISHING COMPANY TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK. However, I will add that it makes getting into stores easier.
  • Research your nation-wide marketing plan. By this point you should know what kind of audience your book appeals to. Start gathering ideas for targeting those people (see my post below about marketing tactics if you need help)

(4-5 months prior of publication) After you’ve finished writing that awesome book of yours:

  • Have that manuscript copy-edited. And developmental edited (if you need it.) By this time, though, you should just need the former. The developmental edit should come way before it. Also, make sure that after this copy-edit when you actually typeset it, you will need to ONCE AGAIN carefully read through it so that everything transferred correctly.
  • Get the interior design planned out. This includes typesetting.
  • Get a professional to design your cover (this should be done probably first here because you will want to start Facebook pages, or Twitter things for your book to build an audience)
  • Establish your publication date.
  • Get author photo taken. Smile!
  • Start figuring out what costs you want to place on your book. By now you should have the proper page count down so you will be able to know how much it will cost you to print it and what you will need to make a profit.
  • Obtain your barcode!
  • Write following promotional materials: news release, sales letter, mock review, customer sales flier, and email pitch.
  • Prepare a personal mailing list from holiday card recipients, business associates, club membership directories, your Rolodex, database, or other sources. (This will help you in marketing your book). Remember this first book is all about building that fan base.
  • Please have your website already started being created. You need to start building your SEO (search engine optimization). You want people to find you online, right?
  • Have your distribution channels set up. Are you going through a digital press, or are you going to be doing all the delivery yourself? Remember that with the latter option, it takes a considerable amount of time, and my guess is that you do not have that amount of time. I know I plan on going through LightningSource to print and distribute my books for me.

(at least 3 months prior to publication) Do while your book is being printed:

  • First, request the appropriate amount of galley copies to start sending off to people who will review your book before it comes out. No one wants to review a book afterwards 🙁 Sad truth, but the truth nonetheless. So, when your main book is getting printed, make sure that whatever source you are going through for your book also gets galley copies to you. If they don’t offer them, then perhaps go with a local print store or 48-hour books is another good option. This is when you want to send stuff off to Publisher’s Weekly and other good national magazines.
  • Review printer proofs of your book very carefully for any final corrections.
  • Implement your nationwide marketing plan. This is the time to start ratcheting up everything.
  • Copyright that book. Now, if your book is being published from September – the end of the year, you can use the next years copyright on it. This is important because no one wants to read an “old” book. By using this copyrighting trick, you’ll avoid that.
  • Start contacting bloggers and other sites for your virtual author book tour
  • Prepare following additional materials: acknowledgement card for reviewers, discount schedule, and return policy statement.
  • Submit articles to online articles sites, with links back to your web site (this will help build traffic to your site and ultimately increase your SEO).
  • Mail your prepublication offer to your personal mailing list. Get as many preorders as possible. Not only will this boost your credibility in the first day your book is released, but it’s always nice having for sure money coming in.
  • Embellish your book detail page on Amazon.com

(2 months pre-publication) When Your Books Arrive:

  • Ask enthusiastic readers to write customer reviews for the book at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com (you should have already given some galley copies away and have contacted book bloggers. Use these people to your advantage. Get those reviews up on your website, too).
  • Fill complimentary copy request generated by Nationwide marketing plan
  • Fill advance orders
  • Complete your copyright registration
  • Send copy of book to LCCN office
  • Send copy of book to Baker and Taylor
  • Make sure your books are not damaged in delivery if you get a bunch to sell yourself (which you should, this goes almost without saying).
  • Always carry copy of book with you and have case of books in your vehicle. You will always want a chance to sell your book.
  • Contact all bookstores in your area. Start pounding the pavement and getting into local bookstores that you can eventually get into the nationwide bookstores. On top of that, read this article to help out other local authors you may know, or you can give your friends ideas to help out you and your book.  http://writerunboxed.com/2013/01/28/jan-28-column/
  • Start utilizing radio, tv, or even magazine ads for your book.
  • Develop an available for interview sheet
  • Contact local media for interviews and stories
  • Pursue reviews, excerpts, interviews, and book sales on various internet sites
  • Be constantly on the lookout for any new review sources and sales opportunities

Things to do to have a successful publication and what to do after a successful publication:

  • Follow all steps above ^
  • Consider having two publication launches. One a “soft” launch where you have your book for sale but its technically not released yet. And then a “hard” launch where you have essentially a book party and friends and family can come meet the author and hang out. At this party, I would advise having bookmarks available with your author tour that you’ve set up by going to local bookstores. Give interested individuals a few of them to pass out. You need to build interest.
  • Add favorable reviews to website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Revise, update, and or expand book as needed
  • Get reprinting quotes on a second printing (if you run out of books because it’s so popular) or…
  • Offer book to major trade publishers.

And there you have it folks, the skin and tissue to your skeleton. Good luck with all your writing efforts. Look back to my next post when I have time when I discuss how to go about making some of the above documents I mentioned in bold and italics.

Business Plans–The Rest of It

Alright, so yesterday we looked at just the expenses part of the business plan because when you are making something like that, that is the one section you want to start with. Now, I forgot to mention this but you should also add your projected revenue. This is a TOTAL GUESSTIMATE. Especially if you don’t have an established fan-base. But for books I listed possible revenue coming from: (a) online sales, (b) e-books, (c) face-to-face selling, and (d) bookstores… Pretty basic. For most self-publishers the first 3 will be your main selling areas, and as far as calculating this you need to do some research. (1) Find out who your distributor is, I recommend Lightning Source for online, and BookBaby for e-books. (2) Research prices and start drawing up some hypothetical scenarios for where your book will fall (unless you have a “for sure” word count and page count. And then just take the profit margin and multiply it by # of books sold and then don’t forget to add in royalties to bookstores or vendors or whoever else there may be.

Now, the first four things on the business plan are (1) Description of company, (2) ownership and location information, (3) products, and (4) pricing strategy. These are definitely the easiest and for the most part self-explanatory. But, let’s discuss the basic jist of each one briefly, before going into what’s going to set your business plan apart.

ITEM #1 = Description of Company

  • Alright, here you just put what your company plans on doing. For example, “The purpose of Writer’s Block Press is to spearhead publishing and merchandising for the written creations of Michael E. Thies.” Here is where you will also want to list what type of salary you expect, and how you plan to utilize left over money.

ITEM #2 = Ownership and Location of Company

  • Who owns it. What type of company is it (i.e. sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, etc.). Do you have employees? How many?
  • Where is it located. If you are working from your house you could say something like, “Writer’s Block Press will be run and operated in a designated office on the residential premises of your name here.
  • Who to get in touch with if approached for movie deals or sponsorship opportunities

ITEM #3 = Products

  • What type of products do you offer? For a publishing company it is most likely going to be books, and that’s pretty much about it. Make sure you tell what format they are in (print and e-book, maybe audiobook?)

ITEM #4 = Pricing Strategy

  • Unless you have the capabilities and know-how to run a POD Press, or an Offset Press, I would just say something like “Writer’s Block Press, until deemed financially necessary, will outsource production of books to POD publishers such as LightningSource or CreateSpace. As such, Writer’s Block Press is subject to their pricing for works published.”

NOW THE GOOOOOOOOD STUFF 🙂 —> Here we will be discussion a few things: (6) Production schedule, (7) Targeted Audience, (8) marketing and promotion plan, (9) web plan, (10) long-term goals, (11) summary…. (If you noticed I skipped item 5, that is because that are your finances which I already discussed in the previous post).

ITEM #6 = Production Schedule/Writing Plan

  • It’s always nice to have goals down in print. I think it helps you achieve them. So with this section you are going to list (I would say for the next 2 years minimum) your product plans.
  • So for new books make sure you include, dates to get drafts done by, dates to get edits done by, proofreading, to have galley copies ready, to have release dates. By having these items, you will really set yourself up for success. So, for example, the first book in my series, Guardian of the Core, titled “Eska’s Trials” is coming out this December. For the whole year of 2014 I have plans of finishing the second book, and of dates I need to get each draft done by, so I can release the second book of the series, come January of 2015.
  • This is the type of planning that financial people want to see. It will exude a sense of professionalism with them and that you are taking into account the longevity of the company. And of your career of course!!!

ITEM #7 = Target Audience

  • Pretty self-explanatory. Who are you marketing towards? For me, my book is New-Adult science-fiction/fantasy so a bunch of my readers will be college-aged males. Writing a romance? Well, it’s probably females. Writing a How-To Book on engineering? Well, then middle-aged men. Of course, always try to be as specific as possible with this.
  • Include answers to these questions in this section: What is the best way to reach readers? What are the number of books planned in the series? Is it a standalone novel? What is the novel about? What is the genre?

ITEM #8 = Marketing Plan

  • Sorry to disappoint everyone, but I’m an Advertising Major, so this is right up my alley. With that being said, I want to do it justice and not just give a brief overview. Check back later as this will get it’s own blog post, just like finances did. This is almost an entirely separate document than your business plan since it can be very long depending on how thorough you are and the ideas you have.

ITEM #9 = Web Plan

  • What are your url’s going to be? If you know, RESERVE THEM NOW! I am pissed because someone already has “writersblockpress.com” reserved so I had to go with the next best thing and choose “.net” but then I also purchased “www.guardianofthecore.com” and “www.michaelethies.com” and I am going to include url forwarding for all of them to my author page until deemed financially appropriate to get separate websites for the rest of them.
  • Also, here is where you want to list your presence and visibility on social media. Do you have a blog? Of course you do, you’re following mine! 😉 But, besides that, do you have a Facebook Page set up, Twitter Account, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest (I admit to not using the last two I listed, but if you have them, list them). Perhaps you have a Youtube Channel that can correlate with your company’s vision.
  • This is an important part because investors want to see your marketability and nowadays all of that marketing stuff has to do with an online presence. You need to have one!

ITEM #10 = Long-Term Goals

  • Include 3-Year and 5-Year goals in here. Again, these are just “goals” you are not bound to these. For mine, I included having another book out in 3-years, and then one more book and even other authors by 5-years from now. Also, I put in here that I will have personalized websites for the links I mentioned above within this time frame.
  • This is an important section because, as I said before, investors want to see the longevity of your company planned out. If you have goals for 3 and 5 years down the road, then they will start to trust you more as a person who wants to make this business succeed and will do everything in their power to try and make that happen.

ITEM #11 = Executive Summary

  • Summarize your entire document. Here is a sample of what I put:
  • “Writer’s Block Press will see continued growth through 2014 and 2015, and subsequent years after that. By February of 2015, Writer’s Block Press will have two titles published that will be for sale via print and e-book. Each book published by Writer’s Block Press will be of high quality, going through the necessary revisions and steps before it is released. Branding author and owner, Michael E. Thies, will never stop, nor will marketing his series, Guardian of the Core. Writer’s Block Press will be a name known to all, because name recognition equals sales or future sales for all author’s publishing under it.”

Now, that is a lot of information to take in. If you want to get your business plan critiqued I’d be more than willing to look at it, send it to me at writersblockpress@gmail.com or, what I would also recommend, is to take it to a bank and ask to speak to a loan officer and ask them this, “If I were to do business with you, what would you offer my company” hand them your business plan and get it critiqued.

Anyways, sorry that this post was so long. But there is a lot of information here, and I just grazed the surface. Look forward to the marketing plan as this is one thing that writer’s continually struggle with. Happy writing and good luck with establishing your company, whatever that may be.

Creating the Business Plan–Expenses

Business Plans are by far the most taxing part about the writing process (pun intended). They are dry, dull, and boring material that definitely limits our creativity. However, we still need to do them because that’s life. If you plan on getting a loan for publishing your book (because it can be quite the hefty sum) you will definitely need a business plan to woo over any potential investors and or bank loaners.

So, in summary here is the basic outline of a business plan.

  1. Description of your company
  2. Ownership and location of company
  3. Products that you will be offering
  4. Pricing strategy
  5. Financial Plan
  6. Production schedule and writing plans
  7. Targeted audiences
  8. Marketing and Promoting Plan
  9. Web Plan
  10. Long Term Goals
  11. Executive Summary

That is a lot, right? Well it needs to be thorough in order for people to trust you enough and see what type of person you are so that they feel comfortable about loaning you thousands of dollars (because trust me that is what it will take.) Total costs for first books usually take anywhere from $10,000 – $20,000 to get off the ground. And that doesn’t include your salary! (You wanna make a living right?) So you want to add whatever you project for that in there as well. Now, if you noticed, I’m talking a lot about finances and expenses, that is because it is the most crucial and the hardest part to come up with for a business plan. In this entry, I will be only discussing expenses and finances because most of the other stuff will be self-explanatory but I will still give you a template anyways.

Now, I highly suggest you start by seeing a SCORE individual–SCORE is a group of retired business professionals who have created businesses and now are retired and donate their time in order to answer questions about marketing, business plan implementation, etc. They want to see you succeed (and they don’t cost a dime). You can get in touch with a score representative by contacting your local chamber of commerce, there are plenty of them.

So, how I decided to break down my business plan when I went about creating Writer’s Block Press was to list separate expenses.

Expense #1 = Business Expenses (i.e. website design, office supplies, logo design, etc.). Then I had book expenses (i.e. ISBN #, each edit that I had done, barcodes, e-book formatting). Don’t forget to include your anticipated salary here. Be daring, reach big, it is always better to overestimate than underestimate.

Expense #2 = Book Expenses. This is how much you think your book is going to cost to print. Get quotes from offset-printers if you decide to do that (you will need a signature count and that means you will need an even amount of pages. The highest signature count is 32 pages) So if you had a 160 page novel, you would need to buy 5 signatures. Anyways, for most self-publishers this isn’t a viable option for it requires a small fortune so check in with your POD publisher and find out how much it costs to print through them (they will have a price per page typically). Set a range of pages for your list of expenses (unless you know a definite page count) and whalah. Now, take that price per unit and plan on buying the amount of books you think you can personally sell within two years (you always want books with you) and now you have that number.

Expense #3 = Association Affliation Fees. What are these? These are subscriptions to magazines, membership into writing groups, anything that will eventually become vital in your marketing plan. Some good ones to be a part of are Publisher’s Weekly, Independent Book Publisher’s Association, local Writer’s Guild, etc. These fees are optional, but I would highly recommend you invest in them and start building your presence in these online communities.

Expense #4 = Marketing Expenses. If you don’t have this mindset, start developing it now. Many things I hear from authors is that they assumed the publisher was in charge for marketing their book. They are not. I repeat, they are not. It is up to you to see your book succeed or fail. It is the publishing companies job to publish the book. Now, I would highly suggest getting help from a professional agency here. I work at a marketing agency during the day, so if this is something you need help in (creating a marketing plan) let me know. My email there is mthies.creativebuzz@gmail.com. Anyways, marketing ideas can range from free reviews in magazines of your genre, or as expensive as direct mailers. Now, something I do need to mention here is you need GALLEY COPIES. No one wants to review the book AFTER publication. They want to review the book before it comes out and they want to read it for free. This means you need to cover the expense of these copies, and they will be worth it but just don’t give it to anyone, give it to people who have a lot of visibility. The idea is to build as much pre-publicity as you can. This should happen the two months before the book is actually released. Talking with your POD distributor, they should have a price for galley copies.

Now that you have all your expenses, we will discuss pricing and promotion in the next segment. Stay tuned. But for now, start here. Find out how much money you are going to have to shell out and then really think to yourself, “Is this worth it?” For me, it was.