Are you employing the 8 components of a successful book business?
For the next 5 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.
Day 24 writing prompt:
If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?
Virtually every successful business has a business plan – a roadmap, if you will, of where they are now and where they plan to go. This is no different for your book business. We’re often told that the best plans will contain some most of the following elements:
- Executive Summary
- Company Overview
- Description of Products and Service
- Market and Industry Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Operations Plan
- Development Plan
- Management Plan
- Company’s Competitive Advantage
- Financial Plan
But a business plan need not be long or elaborate to be complete. My friend, business coach Suzanne Muusers, has developed a 2-page mini business plan system that cuts the clutter and helps you get to the heart of the matter: understanding what your business does, where you want it to go, and how you plan to get there.
7 other crucial pieces of your book business include:
If there’s ever a professional who needs to cultivate a personal brand, it’s an author. According to personal branding specialist, Peter Montoya:
Your personal brand is the powerful, clear, positive idea that comes to mind whenever other people think of you. It’s what you stand for—the values, abilities and actions that others associate with you. It’s a professional alter ego designed for the purpose of influencing how others perceive you, and turning that perception into opportunity. It does this by telling your audience three things:
1. Who you are
2. What you do
3. What makes you different, or how you create value for your target market
Your website needs to reflect your brand and make it possible for your audience to access you and your products. I plan in the near future to hire Suzanne’s husband, Dana Ball, a brilliant, creative designer, to revamp my website. Dana gave my book cover a thumbs-up, which made me ever-so proud.
A method of e-commerce.
The only way you can collect money for your book is by having some method of e-commerce installed on your website. While PayPal is widely used and accepted, if you’ve got more than one or two titles, you may still want to look into a shopping cart service.
The point of writing a book is getting it out into the world. This most likely means distribution beyond your website. Whether it’s an eBook or a traditionally printed book, you’ve got to have a way of disseminating it. This might be through Amazon, BookBaby, Smashwords, Lightning Source, or some other channel. The point is that if you want as many people as possible to have access to your book, you’ve got to employ a source (or sources) to do that for you.
An e-mail list.
The heart and soul of any online business is its list – the people to whom you will market your current and future books. Developing a list is an important activity you must master if you intend to be a successful Internet merchant.
A CRM system (customer relationship management).
Realtors and mortgage folks seem to be masters at CRM – but cultivating and managing relationships with the people on your list is essential for any author who takes the business side of things seriously. This means knowing who bought what when, how they found you, whether their preference is for eBooks or printed titles, to name just a few.
As a self-publishing author, you may at times feel like your team is just one person: you. As I wrote in a January 2012 post:
It’s quite common for a new author to take that precipitous dive into self-publishing only to realize, even after a fair amount of research, that there’s a LOT involved. And it’s really easy to get overwhelmed. I think a good part of the overwhelm comes from the erroneous belief that you’ve got to “go it alone.” It’s not much of a stretch to make the analogy between a self-publishing author and a general contractor, if, as careers.stateuniverity.com explains, a general contractor’s job is to “coordinate and supervise the work at construction sites from early development to final product.”
* * *
Well, if there are so many people involved, how can you possibly be going it alone? Ask any leader who feels that it truly is lonely at the top. Hiring people – or contracting for their services – doesn’t mean you necessarily view these individuals as members of your team, and that’s a key component to not going it alone. Sure you’re in charge – but are the folks tasked with components of your book making and marketing simply people you’re paying, or are they members of your team who are equally invested in your success?
Yeah, you wrote a book and thought you were done. As one Author Blog Challenge participant put it, “Writing the book was the easy part. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this marketing stuff.”
The good news is that you can sell a lot of books on your own if you set up your book business properly from the start. Will it take time? Yes – probably more time than you think you can afford to give. Will it take determination? Boatloads. Will it take some marketing savvy and computer skills? Yep – those are somewhat necessary to become a successful online bookseller. Can you do it? I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes – you can do it. Decide you want it. Make a plan. And implement.
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!