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.
- Description of your company
- Ownership and location of company
- Products that you will be offering
- Pricing strategy
- Financial Plan
- Production schedule and writing plans
- Targeted audiences
- Marketing and Promoting Plan
- Web Plan
- Long Term Goals
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.