It’s no news to us writers that every piece of writing needs some kind of plan no matter how minimal. However, we are fast learning that writing isn’t our only task in getting our work to our readers. Regardless of whether or not we are traditionally published or self-published, we find ourselves charged with more of the work of promoting our books. And we find that going the traditional route doesn’t provide the advertising help that once was common. So, all writers need to think seriously of their writing career as a multifaceted business requiring sound planning. Freelance writers have been doing this from the get go. It’s never too early to plan, even if you haven’t finished your writing, let alone even started it.
Your writing is your product. As such, it must be of the best quality you can produce. Aside from your innate talent and self editing, that quality involves getting good critiques from fellow writers—perhaps in a writing group; having a variety of test readers give you their reactions; hiring a good content editor and a good copy editor; and enlisting the services of a successful book designer. Appearances do count. I keep reading in many different sources that poor editing and cover design turn off readers—and we do want those readers to read our next book, so invest in superior editing and book design.
Whether you are in the early stages of your writing or have a completed, vetted manuscript, develop a business plan. A business plan consists of a realistic timeline from production to sale, source of financing, projected expenses, and projected income based on research. People starting businesses create business plans to obtain financing for their ventures. (However, as far as I know, banks aren’t making loans to finance writers' book publishing ventures.) It’s important to consider if the amount of money you are willing to invest will be covered by the return on book sales. This consideration may determine if you publish traditionally, self-publish, and/or epublish.
You can find examples of business plans on the Internet, at the library, and from the Chamber of Commerce or other community organizations that help people start their own businesses. The expenses of creating your final manuscript will be part of this business plan. It’s important to have a business plan so that you don’t find yourself without funds at a critical point in getting your writing out to the public. Many a phenomenal read has languished for lack of marketing funds.
A marketing plan is a necessary adjunct to your business plan. There is really quite a lot of information on marketing your writing—Penny C. Sansevieri, author of Red Hot Internet Publicity, and owner of a PR company called Author Marketing Experts, Inc.; Guy Kawasaki’s and Shawn Welch’s book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book ; Brian Jud, another book marketer, has penned How to Make Real Money Selling Books and owns Book Marketing Works; www.bookbuzz.net; and writing magazines like The Writer and Writer’s Digest. These and other experts publish a lot of free information on their websites and blogs and also conduct seminars.
Regardless of whether you go with a traditional publisher or self-publish, all experts agree that having a website or blog and engaging in social media like Facebook and Twitter is critical to promoting your work. Following is a brief list of helpful sites:
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