We understand – calling your book a product seems harsh / boring / uninteresting / cruel to many writers. Writers aren’t running a business, but published authors are. Sometimes it helps to translate business terms into the phrases we use for writing.
In its purest form, a business is a process used to create something and sell it to people who want what has been created. We write and create books for people to buy for money. When an item is sold for more money than it took to create and sell the item, a profit is made. Successful businesses make a profit. Unsuccessful businesses don’t.
There three stages of a business. Successful authors do them all, but we call these business terms something different. Officially, these are
- marketing also called sales.
In business terms, creating something is called Production. Writers call it – writing. Businesses have products. Writers have manuscripts. Your work-in-progress is a product “in production”.
Operations are all the activities needed to get your product to the market. Writers call it “finding a home for our book” and “sending out the manuscript to an editor or publisher”. It also includes tracking submissions, signing a contract (woo hoo!), guest blogging, and rounds of edits. For a writer, Operations is getting your manuscript to a publisher in the form they want.
Marketing or Sales is the process of getting your book in the hands of readers. So? How are your sales?
Strong and consistent? Or weak and sporadic?
Like any new or struggling busines, you can change this. And no, writing better isn’t necessarily going to help. Of course, we always want to be improving the product we offer (writing better books), but the most exciting products and the best written books need to be found and heard about in order to be sold.
At the WBS, we hear from writer friends all the time that:
- “Blogs don’t work.”
- “There is too much time between releases to keep readers interested and/or connected.”
- “Paid ads are better for reaching new readers.”
- “No one is interested in getting a newsletter from a lesser known author.”
- “There is no time for this.”
- “I have no time.”
- “No one has enough time.”
Yes, that last one comes up a lot.
We know it can be really tough to balance writing and business, but ask any of the selling authors who first rose to be top sellers in the last ten years will tell you – they had to work at it. Once the “big six” publishing companies began to downsize and dropped their midlist authors, it became up to the authors to do the work to sell their books.
And it can be done quite successfully.
Bella Andre, J.A. Konrath, Amanda Hocking, H. M. Ward and other “names” in self and independent publishing all have information on their blogs and websites on how they grew to be best-selling authors. None of them discuss taking more writing classes. They talk about the different ways they engage readers: blogs and websites, of course, sometimes newsletters and always some form of social media including Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter. They choose the social media outlets they like the best, they post regularly on a wide-reaching central topic/theme/interest (at the Writers Business School that’s what we call Platform) and they do what they can to consistently stay connected to and engaged with readers.
All the time.
No matter if they’re releasing a new book next week or next year.
Best-selling author E. J. Stevens told us that as she built her business, more than 50% of her time went to business. Business over writing. Now she reaps the benefits of this with a business that, usually, runs smoothly (follow her on Facebook and you’ll read about the glitches known as life which she shares with humor and empathy, part of her brand).
The amount of time you spend on your business is in direct correlation to the amount of money you will have in your royalty checks. If you want that check to cover some or all of your bills, you need to learn some simple business skills.
Learning how to find, connect and engage your ideal reader is a skill you can learn, and a repeatable process you can use to improve your book sales.
Of course, we think it’s also really fun.
You take the steps, you see the results, you make changes as necessary and then you get more results! Remember, if you’re looking for help with your business check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/writersbusinessschool for information on our classes (free and extended) or our website www.writersbusinessschool.com where we have a self-assessment quiz and questionnaires to help you understand the five skill sets which will increase your book sales and make certain your business stays open!