Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Build a Profitable Business Plan - Selling Your Books Online

How to Build a Profitable Business Plan - Selling Your Books Online
(photo: PlanToo47)

Most Authors Don't Have a Business, or Even a Plan

Don't worry about it. That's why 97% of everyone on this planet die broke, including most indie and conventional authors.

Charles Dickens ran a business. So does Amanda Hocking, so does any profitable author.

If you aren't making a living writing books, maybe you should look over your own business.

How to Write, Publish, and Everything Else.

Although a great deal can be left to the major distributors and their "also bought" algorithms, the more you are active in your business, the more income rises.

There is one rule for earning income by selling books online:

Writing Feeds the Soul,

Publishing Pays the Bills.

If your bills aren't getting paid from your book income, your publishing business is failing. 

If you don't have anything worth publishing, then your writing business is failing.

In Stephen King's memoir "On Writing", he lays out a basic way to feed your soul and keep your body fed, your lights and heat on, clothes on your back - and your spouse happy with trinkets.

He wrote in the morning when he felt most inspired. He answered emails and took care of his business in the afternoon. He read in the evening - which then stoked the fires for his writing the next morning.

Each day he had a target of 2,000 words written. Then he worked his business after that.

Dickens had a similar scene. He wrote in the morning, took a 3-hour walk which recharged his writing batteries, then spent the evening with family and associates.

The point is that such a schedule comparmentalizes your life in to activities, so you can focus on one area at a time.

(It's also noted that many successful authors arranged their lives to be completely un-distracted while writing, and had rather strict schedules to their reclusive lives. They were not social butterflies.)

Self-publishing isn't set-and-forget.

It's too easy to think of an author as simply a person who churns out books and self-publishes them or gets them published, then gets onto the next book.

This is simply another road to immediate or eventual poverty.

There is the fact that the average number of books an author has to publish before their financial success rolls in is five. Most have more than that, in several series.

It is the series of books which invite and hold the reader's interest. The various stages of changes in the character's journeys are the key draw - as people compare their own lives with those of the character.

In non-fiction, it's the author taking them through one or more aspects of that business model or skilset. Something else to learn each time.

The author in both cases is working with their audience to bring more value into their lives.

The Business is in the List.

Internet Marketers are infamous for touting that "the money is in the list." It's their short-hand way of saying, "give the most value to those who trust you most."

When you have a list of emails from your devoted fans, you then have a business of simply
  1. asking them what they want most, 
  2. writing and editing that into shape, 
  3. then telling them when it's ready to purchase
  4. (and asking them to review it on Amazon.)
You as the author also have to have all the backend necessary to keep building that list, as well as regular emails to it in order to build your relationships.

But you don't neglect your writing. The more books you have (deeper backbench) the more players you can have on the field, even when you rotate them.

And you also have to recharge your batteries every day to get ready for the next.

Behind the Velvet Rope

The best leverage is to assemble your content into both free and paid memberships, so that people can support your writing on a monthly basis - and get access to your behind-the-scenes world.

Not only do you let them in, you encourage them to become your patron in exchange for personal favors and interaction.

They pay you to help them improve their lives.

This also means that you are regularly producing content just for them, quite in addition to your daily writing - even if it means letting them get access to your daily drafts on a regular basis.

What you also get from this is their feedback on what they think of your plot, characters, and style. This allows you to tailor-make your books to the readers who follow you most.

Every book you publish, especially ebooks, should have a link which encourages them to become members and step behind the velvet rope.

And Let Them Invite Their Friends

The final step is to encourage them to become evangelists by making them into affiliate sales people.  You simply give them a commission for every book they sell. Many of these people have email lists, or at least followers on their social media. You only have to provide them with a personal link they can use which says they sent that person to buy your book. (Lots of programs and scripts out there which can do this.)

Everyone appreciates the recognition. Some will even take this up as their full-time work as they figure out how to make a living selling other's books and products.

In fact, you can actually set up your book on affiliate sales platforms where such pro's gather regularly. Because these people have their own lists, by mailing to these people, you get a certain amount of them who join your list. Then you invite them to join your membership, and the cycle continues.

The bottom line is that you are expanding your bottom line.

Which makes it more possible for you to do just what you want, which is to write great books that people enjoy.

There's more to this, as far as specifics. I'm currently working on an ecourse which will lay this out in pretty specific detail so anyone can do it. That, along with a case study, will then become a book later.

For a non-fiction writer, that's the other side of the coin. Each book becomes an ecourse, which adds to the list or a segment of it. List members can become membership-patrons and clients. Members can become affiliates - who then bring you more people to your ecourse.

See how this just continues to expand?

That's a business plan - at least in the broad strokes.

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