This post is for authors, but everyone is invited to read. Before we begin, while we’ll be including general writing tips whenever we do an update on the female’s writing progress, to be done at random intervals as we felines see fit, we won’t be doing a lot more of these.
We’re currently working on writing a humorous little piece that goes into the details of us felines caring for a female author–and the business sides associated with it, but the female is tired.
She doesn’t have the energy for much extra, including a lot of author-centric posts right now. Maybe again in the future, once things settle and she gets through all the various things going on.
We’re really sorry.
So, as our last hoorah, and to fulfill a promise, we want to discuss making a basic business plan. Do you need one? You should probably have one if you want to have a full-time writing career. Otherwise, not particularly. Writing books and publishing books can do the trick. A business plan is if you want to strategize how you publish and write books so you can make more money at it.
The female isn’t all that good at making money at it compared to some. She makes a full-time living, and that’s good enough. She primarily makes business plans so she can sustain making a living specifically so she can continue writing books.
Why yes, of course she would like to be making a great deal more money. Most do.
But it’s not really about that for her. She wants to do well, make a good living wage, specifically so she doesn’t have to worry about money and keep having fun writing.
A business plan for authors consists of several parts, and it’s actually a lot easier to build than some think. The trick is implementing it, and that’s a lot harder.
Here are the basics:
For most people wanting to break into publishing, you need to publish books. One, two, or even five usually isn’t enough to build momentum. Most don’t see much momentum until twenty. This is a long game. If you’re lucky or have a lot of advertising dollars to work with, you can find success with fewer books. Don’t count on it, though.
The female was lucky: she started seeing substantial success after fifteen books.
Scheduling your releases will be a big part of your business plan: you need to plan when a book will release, especially in conjunction with your other releases. Most authors find they earn a lot more when they release books in series closely together, capitalizing on readers’ tendency to binge read.
The female prefers staggering things out, as she needs breaks from characters. Every writer is different. This hurts her bottom line, and she’s okay with this.
She’s happier doing it this way, and it’s worth the financial loss.
But, if you want to maximize your earnings, you need to be strategic.
If the female wanted to maximize her earnings, she would do the following:
1: Pick a series, finish it.
2: Pick a release frequency the market can handle. A month to a month and a half would be her jam. KU authors typically prefer a three-week cycle, as that is when the algorithm ‘falls off a cliff’ and a new release revitalizes a series.
3: Set up preorders for all of the books in the series at the desired frequency.
4: Market book 1. This involves advertising however you see fit. If you don’t advertise, people aren’t going to magically find your book.
5: Market book 1. It really helps if you market the first book in a series to draw in new readers.
6: Market some more. Plan your marketing around the new releases, and run sales on your old backlist books to help draw in new readers.
7: Market. Yep. See below for the advertising venues the female likes.
8: Write more books, add them to your schedule, and keep working on books. Keep marketing.
The less you market, the more writing you will have to do–or you will just have to be happy with stagnating earnings numbers.
The female doesn’t market nearly as much as she should. She needs to fix that. She knows she needs to fix that.
But she’d rather be writing, so that’s what she does.
So, with some help from the female, we’re going to put together a fake little business plan you can use to model your stuff from if you’d like. Or, at least, demonstrate the idea.
This business plan model is for the meticulous planner, who wants to write the entire series before releasing it. There will be a business plan for the haphazard like the female afterwards.
We will do this for one series. We’ll call it Kitties Rule the World. (We really do.)
Day One: Story Conception! We must write a series called Kitties Rule the World.
Step One: After conceptualizing the series, determine how many books it will be. For this series, we will pick six books. That is a nice, meaty series.
Step Two: name all six books of the series. (You want to be thinking ahead. This will help you make sure your series stays on target, too.)
Please note that this sort of business plan best works for a planner type of personality. If you’re like the female and do what you want, do what you want! The female decided what she wanted to do by taking her top 12 favorite projects and picking those for next year. Easy peasy!
She just hopes she makes enough money to have a living wage. Because that is the goal.
(We never said her marketing plan was good. But she, ironically, knows how to do them but chooses not to because it’s stressful.)
Step Three: Write books. Hire staff, especially cover designer if you need one. You need to have something to market. Hire your editors. You want this product to shine. If you’re doing audiobooks, hire your production team so you can roll out the audiobooks the same time your titles are ready to launch. This is a LOT of scheduling work. And that scheduling work *IS* your business plan.
Yeah. Scheduling sucks. More on that in a moment.
Please note if you’re doing this style of business plan, you will likely hold books back until you’re ready to release several at once. That’s okay! It isn’t the female’s style, but this business plan type is NOT for the female and people like her. We’ll show you a different business plan afterwards.
So, let’s say it takes you three months to write a book, you will be working a year and a half just writing the books/preparing them for market. That’s fine! There are drawbacks to this method, but it can, if you have a good enough marketing plan, pan out for you.
If I were doing this plan, I would schedule out my life like this:
Day 1-15: Plotting of the entire series, having a good feel for characters, plot, etc. This won’t work well for pantsers, and that’s OKAY. You can just skip straight to writing the books if you’re a pantser.
Day 15-105: Write book 1.
Day 106: Send book to editor. (This is assuming that you are doing three months for your entire process, including your self edits.)
Day ??: Do a brief review of editorial notes from editor, implementing major changes to book 2 resulting from changes made in book 1. The female calls this rippling, because the changes ripple through the series.
At this point in time, book 1 is canon, and it should not be changed. (Changing book 1 will ripple through your entire series and really screw you up. If you must change book 1, be prepared for a nightmare of revisions. Try to set each book in stone once you’re done editorial. This sort of rotation can help.)
Day 106-196: Write book 2.
Day 190: Double check your edits on book 1. Make any and all adjustments from book 1 that carries over to book 2 you need to that you may have missed.
Day 196: Send book 2 to editor.
Day ??: Do a brief review of editorial notes from editor, implementing major changes to book 3 resulting from changes made in book 2. Ripple your changes FORWARD unless your editor finds a critical plot hole. If you must adjust book 1, you must ripple all changes from book 1 forward. This. Sucks. Big. Donkey. Dick. Try to get it right, humans!
Day 197-287: Write book 3.
Day 280: Double check your edits on book 2. Make sure you have properly rippled throughout book 3.
Day 288: Send book 3 to editor.
Day ??: You guessed it. Review the editorial of the previous book. Do the things. Again. Weep into your beer. It gets harder every book deeper you get into the series.
(Now imagine being unable to fix anything prior at all and having to brainstorm how to fix what you broke. Welcome to the rest of your authorial life.)
Day 289-379: Hope is fading. You are writing book four. You have chosen. Possibly poorly.
Rinse and repeat in the same cycle until the series is done.
But, seriously, this is your schedule until the series is done if you need three months to finish a book and get it on its way to an editor. Fast forward to the next stage:
You are done the books. Now you need some other key components:
Cover Art. Descriptions. A Marketing Plan.
You can do these as you’re working on the series. That’s totally fine. It’s actually great. You can plan marketing material, do your market research (knowing what types of books sell consistently well in a genre,) and everything else an author needs to do to be successful.
For your Cover Art, I’m going to risk the wrath of indies everywhere, but hire a professional. They know what they’re doing. They’re worth the money. The writing industry is one big gamble, and those who succeed got lucky with their toss of the dice–and stacked the cards in their favor.
Having a lackluster cover hurts you. Covers. Sell. Books.
Book descriptions also sell books. Try to keep them below 250 words an on target for your genre. Read the descriptions of strongly selling books that hit your genre.
Your writing finishes the sale.
Everything else is gravy.
Marketing, while a critical part of a business plan, is too big of a subject to tackle here. The female recommends you look into the following options:
Blog Tours with reputable tour groups. See who good authors are using, and pitch to them. They won’t take everyone, especially if you don’t have a strong cover and description–or you’re already coming to the table as a strong author with an established career. Tour groups can be picky.
You can approach bloggers and create your own tours for little to no investment other than time.
Bookbub New Release Featured Deals / Bookbub Featured Deals: These are gold, and they’re selling tools and large-scale author branding tools. The female loves the branding, because it gets readers comfortable with seeing her brand. Sometimes, the sales aren’t ideal. She’s made all her money back or made profit on all of her deals to date, although some only made profit because of the sell-through. (Let me tell you, humans, a hurricane hitting the country on the day of your deal… hurts sales. A lot.)
Bookbub Paid Ads: These are harder, but these can work really well for branding and sales. These take a lot of work to learn, but there are courses available to teach you how to do them. Personally, the female has used Melissa Storm’s course, with some help with her directly, as the female have a sensory input issue that makes watching videos difficult. But even without the videos, you can glean a lot of useful information from her course on it. I took it, and it made a huge difference on my general paid ad performance.
Facebook Paid Ads: Author beware, the facebook ads system has had a lot of problems lately (Oct 2019) and while it’s a super great tool, proceed with caution. They have been overcharging some accounts for no reason, they have been cutting accounts erroneously, and so on. The female is very hesitant to use Facebook ads, but she is going to with a strict account spend limit, which she will screenshot in case facebook attempts to overcharge her. (At least that way she can fight the charge with the bank.) Facebook has a history of poor customer service and no ability to contact live people. Be aware.
All of the Female’s Amazon paid ads have been miserable failures. This could be due to the fact she is not in KU, but that is all she wrote. She does not enjoy throwing money down the drain. So, she is not currently recommending Amazon’s system. There are people who make it work. These people are all in KU. If you are in KU, you should research. (I know that isn’t helpful.)
For those who prefer to write multiple series or pen names in rotation, you can do something similar to the first style of business plan with an exception: your rotation happens per book, and it goes a little like this:
1: Write the book
2: Send the book to your editor.
3: Prepare a marketing plan. (Blog tours for the release, advertising, etc.)
4: Set up a preorder for the book.
5: Begin implementing your marketing plan, scheduling the blog tours, paying for relevant services (including Bookbub Preorder Alerts,) announcing your preorder to your fans, implementing a street team to promote your book, and so on. (A street team can be hugely valuable, but they’re a lot of work. The female actually has an assistant (why did I write assassin initially? Humans, we may never know…) who helps coordinate this.
6: Create and maintain a readers’ group on facebook, where you can post teasers, chapters, and have some one-on-one time with your fans. This really helps. Expect to start small. We all do.
7: As soon as the previous book is finalized, be working on your next book. If you are absolutely confident in your ability to meet deadlines, set up your preorder chain as soon as you know you can be 100% completed, even with setbacks. Expect setbacks, they will happen.
Essentially, no one business plan will work for all authors. You must find a flow and process of what works for YOU.
The above business plan works for the female, with some alterations. She sets up preorders before she’s done the book because she’s heavily deadline oriented and thrives on their existence. She does very well at consistently meeting her deadlines. When she’s late, it’s not by much, and she accounts for that time in her planning.
You need to learn YOUR flow and set up your books as YOUR flow dictates.
Add extra time, counted in weeks, to your process to make sure delays won’t cause you problems. If you think they will, soft launch your book and immediately start making a marketing plan. (This means you might lose your algorithm window, however, and that can be bad for a book’s ultimate health.)
Definition: Soft Launch: releasing a book to get links so you can set up marketing options. You do not share your books existence with others, although those who sign up to get alerts about your book will receive them as soon as the sites register the book and prepare the mailer. Soft launches can be good. They can also be bad.
The blog tour groups the female works with often book three+ months in advance. Some book even longer in advance.
So, soft launches won’t work nearly as well as a preorder cycle if you plan on having a coordinated release. (Go preorder instead.)
If you don’t care about your release week, you can do a soft launch and begin advertising later. It is completely possible to beat the algorithms this way, it just takes a lot of work, effort, and ultimately money.
You must decide what method works for you.
Here’s the thing you really need to remember, humans.
A business plan is only as good as the book it is backing.
You may not like a bestselling title. You may think it’s junk. But here’s the deal:
That book isn’t actually junk because that is what people want to read. That’s why they bought it. It may not be the best book, but it is the book that people want to read.
Not only is it a book people want to read, it is a book the author/publisher successfully marketed to many people.
Don’t knock someone’s success because it isn’t something you want to read.
One day, they might be talking about your book. So, take the high road. The best way to lift yourself up is to lift others up with you.
The best way to help yourself is to help others. Tearing others down just makes you the nasty kid on the block. And readers notice that. They notice the drama. They notice you’re always at the heart of the drama.
That drama can hurt your marketing plan, because authors won’t want your drama being exposed to their readers.
And, if your marketing plan and business plan involve group takeovers, interacting with the readers of other authors, and so on… being known as someone who is snide and tears others down will ensure many successful authors just won’t want you interacting with their fans.
The good authors protect their fanbase from nasty people. We don’t want our readers hurt. We don’t want the negativity.
So, make being positive part of your business plan. Being negative closes many more doors than it opens, and people remember.
And now, humans, this kitty is signing off. My sister and I? We have toys and temptations to conquer. See image below.