Is Your Book a Hobby or a Business? Learn to Think Like an Authorpreneur!
Contributed by Dana Lynn Smith
Authors write books for different reasons. Many write for the sheer joy of writing—the stories in their heads are just begging to get out. Some dream of being a bestselling author. Consultants write nonfiction books to enhance their expert status and generate income. People write memoirs to share their story with family and friends. Many authors are motivated by a desire to help others or promote a cause. Politicians and celebrities often seek self-promotion.
Writing for personal fulfillment is a wonderful thing, but if you want to make money from your book you need to treat it like a business. Here are some tips for thinking like an authorpreneur:
Understand the industry. It’s vital to understand how the publishing industry works, in order to make informed decisions about how to best publish, distribute, and market your book. We are fortunate in the publishing industry to have numerous experts who share their wealth of knowledge and ideas through books, teleseminars, networks, articles, forums, blogs, ezines, and other venues. Many of these resources are free, but it’s a good idea to purchase some books, classes and/or consulting services to shorten your learning curve in the writing, publishing, and marketing your book.
Conduct market research. Before you write anything, you should understand who your target markets are and what they want. Who is your ideal customer? Who are your secondary markets? What are their characteristics, interests, fears, and motivations? Also research your competition to understand what material is already available on your topic. Determine how your book can be slanted to provide something new or better.
Create a book marketing plan. Some authors tend to jump from one promotional activity to another, without any clear strategy. A written book marketing plan will give you a blueprint for promoting your book and keep you focused on what’s most important.
Manage your finances. If you are publishing independently or through a publishing services company, you will need to budget for upfront costs like editing, book design, and ISBNs. And all authors need a book promotion budget. You will need a source of funding for these expenses and you’ll need to handle bookkeeping and tax returns.
Track your progress. Successful business owners set goals, measure their progress, and make adjustments to their plans as necessary. Set up a system for tracking metrics like book sales, revenue and expenses, website traffic, sales conversion rates, opt-in signups, friends and followers on social networks, and more.
Use the right tools. Organize your paper and computer files. Schedule regular computer backups. Use a program such as Outlook to manage your email. Learn to use a spreadsheet program like Excel and learn how to create PDF documents.
Manage your time wisely. It’s important to prioritize and to focus your time and money on those tasks that are most likely to produce results. Learn some time management techniques and group tasks together to be more efficient. Delegate to consultants or virtual assistants if it’s feasible.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks involved in writing, publishing, and marketing your book. Think like an authorpreneur: devote some time to learning, research your market, develop a plan, get organized, manage your time and finances, and get help when you need it. You can do it!
Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. http://www.SavvyBookMarketer.com For more book marketing tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter and get her free Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you visit The Savvy Book Marketer blog. http://www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com