How to Plan your Publishing Business

09 Apr




Before you explore author-publishing possibilities in this series, lets first have a look at your business plans as an author and the most important question: Why are you writing?  Are you creating for yourself (as a hobby, just for the fun of writing) – or for an audience?

Can you answer these questions: how many books with the same topic / the same genre are on the market? What is the sales ranking of these works? How are these books priced? What is the social media ranking of the most successful writers in this genre? Where are these books sold on- and off-line? The advise you read here is based on the assumption that you want to entertain, inform, increase your audience and eventually earn some money with your writing.

If you’re producing work for an audience, it means:

  • playing by at least some rules of the industry
  • caring what others think of your work
  • establishing an authors platform from which to communicate
  • interacting with your audience and being available to them
  • doing things not for your art, but out of service to your audience
  • putting on a performance, or adopting some kind of “brand”
  • marketing your work and being visible

If you’re creating for yourself, it means:
Writing is worthwhile for you, regardless of who sees your work.

Why should authors have a business plan?
Unfortunately many writers first create their work – and ask questions later.  Any author can write a book, but only a successful author knows she/he is now in business.  Again: “Writing is an art – publishing is a business!”  A serious business!

There’s no point to go without some kind of strategy in place if your objectives really are in building a writing career. It’s never too early to treat your writing as a business – no one would open a brick&mortar business without a plan!

A business plan can help new (and established) authors to clarify the proper publishing path for their works. A business plan serves as a road map, helping to keep the project and related endeavors like marketing and platform-building on schedule and for the author to track the results of his or her efforts.

The business plan starts when you start thinking about writing a book, it covers all aspects of your future work. At the moment you begin a novel or non-fiction book, you must already have a clear vision of the message, the audience and even the venues where it can be sold.

Traditional business plans have these components:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Market strategies
  • Competitive analysis
  • Design and development plan
  • Operations and management plan
  • Financial factors

Sounds a bit theoretical? OK, here is the version for author-publishing:

  • The topic of your work fiction / non-fiction
  • You target audience / readers
  • Your competition online and in book stores
  • The likely contents, length, format etc. of the book
  • Your marketing and promotional strategies
  • The expenses you face for publishing and promotions.

It is vital to have a business plan because your books and you are the products to be sold. It makes some writers uneasy, but without a plan, you can’t truly figure out a way for your book to sell itself. Think of it as a map, guiding you from starving writer to successful author.

What makes your book so special?
No point in writing a book if you don’t know why or if it’s special. Many writers write books they’d love to read, many write books who’s marketing studies show readers are buying, some write books because the subject is risky or has never been explored before. Know why you and your book is special – and most important: what is the readers benefit of buying your novel or non-fiction book.

Who will want to buy your work?
Jot down all those people who likely will want your book, why they’ll want it and how effective they will be at getting more people to want it. Know who your readership target is. Do you have enough (at least 2,000 on each social media outlet) contacts to spread the word about your book? And with contacts I don’t mean other writers, I mean READERS, bookworms, book lovers, book clubs, avid readers, reviewers! That’s the type of audience you will want to look for.

Research in bookstores and online, how many and which books will be comparable to the one you are writing. Check them out in libraries, on reader forums, such as Goodreads, Shelfari or Wattpad. Visit independent stores and go to big chains  research these books on all online stores, not only Amazon, find out what genres are they placed, what reviewers say, how their author pages are designed etc. to get a real picture of your competition – and your potential readers.

Format of your book?
Books can be sold in many formats and also in many languages. Research at least these three popular formats:

  • e-book format
  • audio format
  • Print format

How do you plan to promote your product?
You know people, hopefully lots of people. Online and off-line. And those people know people. Unless you can spend ten-thousands of dollars every months for advertising, you should plan now, before you write your book social networking, book events, gaining interviews, speaking engagements, seeking book reviews and attending book shows. Schedule all these activities in advance, add as many readers as possible to your current accounts on reader community sites, all social media sites – minimum are: Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Facebook.

What are your marketing strategies?
OK, your book is available on Amazon or in your local book store, but where else might it fit in perfectly? Other online retailers where you can sell your book? Stretch your mind and think creatively: Libraries, book clubs, foreign right sales … there are so many possible outlets for your book. Find out what’s their commissions are, and how much you would make on each sale of your book.

Calculations & Pricing
Both, digital and print books need to be proof-read, edited and then formatted, not to forget a really fabulous, enticing cover.
Pricing on print books is largely based on the number of pages in the book and quality of binding, costs for cover design and book layout. Pricing is also dependent on making print books available for a wider distribution than just Amazon. Since a wider distribution is used, books must be priced
so that the other outlets will be offered wholesale pricing.

Turbulence in the rapidly changing eBook world should also be taken into consideration. Pricing may be subject to change based on sales, current pricing trends and need to create upward movement in Amazon rankings. Books may be discounted if it fits with marketing strategy and promotion.
Don’t forget other expenses, such as webdesign and hosting, advertising, marketing expenses, phone and internet, travel cost etc.  The good news: you can deduct them from your writers income.

What is your timetable for writing, editing, book production, marketing etc.?
After you have figured out your market, your reader audience, your competition and your sales planning, you will feel much better, having a clear vision of your writing / publishing career.  A business plan does not have to be scary, especially for a simple business such as your writing business. In fact, a business plan should be somewhat comforting. It spells out what you want to accomplish, in which time frame and how you plan to do it.

Further reading:




If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help:

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