Plan Your Book Like a Business
By Debbie Elicksen
A business plan
is your blueprint for starting any new venture – even a book. A book
requires a vision, a dream, and unfortunately, sales. Be as specific
as possible in your planning. Use timelines to keep yourself
accountable. But if you've never done a business plan, how do you
Did you know you
have the outline for developing a business plan already in your
computer? You can access the PowerPoint templates, which include a
business plan and marketing plan. Ideally, you should map out your
plan before you start your manuscript. First establish if there is a
market. Do your homework. Check Google, Amazon, and Chapters/Indigo
for other books written on a similar angle. Plan for sales outside
the bookstores. If you get in (and that's a big "if"), consider the
bookstores gravy. The rest is your bread and butter.
You also need to
know what's out there if you pitch to a traditional publisher. Why
should they be interested if there are already other books on the
market? Find the unique angle.
plan should factor in timelines for writing, design and layout,
printing, distribution, marketing, media, and follow-up. If you have
a drop dead date for publication, for example, you want your books
ready for a conference, work back from that date. If the conference
is December 31 – work back and ask the printer when you need to
submit the electronic files to have delivery by the 15th (ideally
cushioning for delays like power outages, etc. that could affect the
plant). If the printer says November 25, work back two to three
weeks, depending on designer's schedule, to allow time for layout.
That would mean you must be ready with your edited manuscript by
November 4. Always allow for delays. What if you get sick for three
days? Factor in major events, work deadlines, and add at least
another week for an extra cushion.
Before I began to
write Inside the NHL Dream (Freelance Communications, 2002), I
produced an outline and laid out a detailed business
plan. It included timelines, who I would try and interview,
marketing, media campaign, et cetera. I gave myself from September
2001 to February 2002 to gather the interviews for the
book. Sometimes, you will not get who you want to interview so you
must have a plan B.
In the process of
formulating a plan for the next book, I may have the basic goal of
what I want it to achieve plus its message so I’ll get started in
stockpiling research and interview possibilities.
The marketing is
a key part of the business plan. Aim for sales outside of
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