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A Business Plan for Indie Authors--Part Three

****This post was originally published on The Writer’s Guide to ePublishing on October 7, 2012****

This is the third part of a three part series on MY business plan as a self-published author.

Just remember, what works for me, or is important to me, may not work for you. My hope is if you are a self-published author, this will make you think more about the business part of your career.

The first part covers the Table of contents, the business description, and the business ownership and location. Go here to read Part One.

Part Two covers what my products are, my pricing strategy, and my financial plan.

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6. Production Schedule and Writing Plans

I’ve already mentioned that I think it’s important to schedule the writing and release of my books. I schedule my developmental and copy editors months in advance and I base those dates off of my production schedule.  Otherwise it would be a guessing game.  As of September, I have my developmental editor booked out to September 2013.

In my business plan, I listed every book I planned to write, and the schedule I planned to follow.

Production Schedule

Sacrifice:
Developmental edits return on Wednesday, January 4
Revisions and edits
Copy editor: Jan 23
Return from copy editor: Feb 13
Send to eBook formatter: Feb 27
Cover needed by: Feb 13
Release: March 13
AMENDED to March 23 release

Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons:
First draft: January 1- March 1
Front cover: Mid March
Edit/revision: March 1- April 8
Send to Developmental editor: April 9
Send to copy editor: May 1
Return from CE: May 22
Send page count to cover designer: May 25
Ebook formatter: May 29
Release: June, 12
AMENDED to June 27 release

This changed, but only by a few weeks each. What I didn’t anticipate was the MAJOR revision my developmental editor suggested for SACRIFICE, which delayed the release and delayed the schedule for TWENTY-NINE. I also didn’t take into account that my DE now gets each book twice. The first time I send her the completed first draft and then again after it’s been revised and edited.

As I already stated, I swapped the production of REDEMPTION and THERE. Even though it’s not in my business plan, I have dates scheduled through the end of the year for delivery dates to my developmental editor and copy editor. I have my amended production schedule written on my large white board, as previously stated, and also in a monthly calendar. I currently have every week booked from now until the last week of May 2013.

7. Targeted Audience

I struggled with this section, which told me that I hadn’t given it enough thought.  Although I keep it in mind for designing covers, at this time I don’t use the information for promoting to specific target audiences.  I broke this section down by series.

Rose Gardner Mysteries:

A humorous southern mystery, with romance and a touch of paranormal. The books are darker at times and contain more violence, language and sexual situations than a cozy mystery. Story is told in first person past by a twenty-four-year-old woman. The stories are set in the fictitious town of Henryetta, Arkansas. Each book is a self-contained story/mystery, while the personal lives of Rose, Joe, her family, and friend, evolve in each book.

Rating: PG13
Number of books planned: Currently four, series left open for more.
Target Audience: Women, some male cross over.
Best way to reach: Mommy bloggers, blog tours, possibly hire publicity firm.

This was actually eye-opening. I hadn’t considered trying to appeal to Mommy bloggers, and honestly, I still haven’t.  There are only so many hours in the day, and I haven’t found time to address this one. Perhaps this is a task for my personal assistant.

8. Planned Marketing and Promotion in 2012

This was also tough and I still say you can’t plan that far in advance. At least, I can’t. For one thing, when I wrote this plan at the end of December 2011, I had never tried a free promotion through KDP Select. I had no idea how to anticipate the success of the promotion. I also couldn’t plan for the natural ebb and flow of books when using promotions. No book will sell well forever. But when your sales start to slow, there are things to try to boost them back up. You can’t accurately predict when those waves will occur. You can only anticipate that it will happen.

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes:
Possible book tour with re-release with new cover
Ads as deemed pertinent
Promo at RT Booklovers Convention (promoted book)

Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons:
Blog tour at release
Apply for POI ad
Ads as deemed pertinent

Chosen:
April RT magazine ad and review (March publication)
Promo at RT Booklovers Convention (Promoted book)
Ads as deemed necessary
Possible blog tour

Promotion for all books:
Email newsletters for releases announcements and other news. Newsletters will only be sent if pertinent information is being sent.

I didn’t do promos for TWENTY-EIGHT and CHOSEN at RT. After some investigation, I decided it wouldn’t be worth the money. Instead of a blog tour at the re-release with TWENTY-EIGHT’s new cover, I ran a free promo instead through KDP Select, and sold many, many more books than I would have otherwise.

But to sell present and future books, it’s important that readers know who you are. Even if they haven’t bought one of your books yet. Name recognition is a huge part of the game and often overlooked.  How many people do you know that buy the next Nora Roberts or James Patterson book simply because they came from those authors?  Sure, the author has to prove themselves to the reader by delivering a great book, but a lot of times, it’s name recognition that persuaded the reader to buy in the first place.

Promotion and Branding of Denise Grover Swank:
Denise Grover Swank will attend RT Booklovers convention April 10-15, 2011. She will participate in a book signing, as well as attend workshops and panels covering self-publishing and marketing.

This plan is sadly lacking. When I revise my business plan at the end of the year, I will focus more on my own name branding and ways to interact with potential readers.

9. Web Plan

My awesome friend and author, Eisley Jacobs, designs my websites. She’s made several changes as my business has grown. In this section, I mention my website and what my plans were.

Bramagioia Enterprises maintains a website titled Denise Grover Swank: www.denisegroverswank.com.  The website is hosted through WordPress. The site currently has links to each series with blurbs, future release dates, and buy links to each available book. The site also has a resource page for self-publishing authors, a review page listing glowing reviews of all books, frequently asked questions, about the author page, and a blog.

The blog includes posts that are personal, stories about family life, as well as writing and publishing industry posts.  Occasional promotion of other authors will be done on a limited basis.

Bramagioia Enterprises plans to build simple websites for all three book series starting with On the Otherside, The Chosen series, and finally Rose Gardner Mysteries. The Chosen Series website will be completed by March 13, the release of Sacrifice. The Rose Gardner series will be done before the release of Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons.  All websites will have .com domains and will be linked to and from www.denisegroverswank.com. Series websites will have photos of characters, deleted scenes, “extras” not in books, maps, and anything else Bramagioia Enterprises deems necessary.

I’m very behind on the development of my additional websites due to some extenuating circumstances with my web designer. However, two of the websites are a work in progress right now. I think that having websites for each series is just one more way to engage your readers.

10. Long -Term Goals

This section was hard. I knew that I had to think long-term, but there are so many unknowns I really had a few ideas of what to plan for. I honestly have no idea what I will be writing five years from now. With that in mind, I only let myself glimpse into 2013.

Bramagioia Enterprises plans to release three books a year through 2013, then reevaluate the production schedule.

Bramagioia Enterprises plans to wrap up The Chosen series with the release of the fourth book in February, 2013.

Bramagioia Enterprises plans to release one Rose Gardner Mystery per year.

Bramagioia Enterprises plans to wrap up the On the Otherside series with the release of the third book in the summer of 2013.

Bramagioia Enterprises plans to release several novellas of varying topics.

Bramagioia Enterprises plans to develop at least one new series to replace the two that are ending. It is unclear at this time what genre the series will be in. Sales of existing series, as well as the author’s preference will be factored into the decision.

This has changed so much. I now have audiobooks and a podcast. I’ve sold foreign rights of The Chosen series to Turkey and have another foreign publisher interested in HERE. I’m in the process of translating TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES into German to publish myself.  These are all things I never could have anticipated last December.

I also changed my mind on releasing novellas. My lowest priced full length book is $2.99. (Chosen is currently $0.99 as a promo for the release of the last book of the series October 10.)  Anything below $2.99 only gets 35% royalties on Amazon. The majority of my sales are on Amazon.  Why spend a month or more on a project that I will likely price at $1.99 and only get $0.70 per book? Especially when I factor in editing and cover costs. I’m not ruling out novellas in the future, but I’ll take a serious look at my pricing structure if I do.

And I gave all of this serious thought because of my business plan.

11. Summary

Just like an essay, this is where I condense everything into a paragraph of information.

Bramagioia Enterprises will see continued growth through 2012 and will release three new books, totaling seven books for sale by the end of the year with a possible novella.  Expenses will increase with the addition of a developmental editor to the cost of preparing a book of release. However, it is important to Bramagioia  Enterprises that the books it releases are considered high quality in every way from the cover, to the story, to formatting, to lack of typos.

Bramagioia Enterprises will push to promote and brand Denise Grover Swank. Name recognition equals sales or futures sales.

And that, my friends, is the end of my business plan.

I hope I’ve helped you think more like a business, but always remember that you are an author first. Without your books, your business has nothing to promote.

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1 Comment on "A Business Plan for Indie Authors–Part Three"

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Beth Donaldson
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Thanks for these posts! I’ve just published my first book and, though I’m not to the independent stage yet (still working full time) it gives me food for thought. Appreciate it!

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