I’m switching it up with The Author Switch this week and providing a video version in addition to the audio version of the podcast. In this episode, I continue the 8-part series about The Authorneer’s Journey and dig into author business planning. Highlights include:
- How to think like an author entrepreneur
- What a basic author business plan can look like
- The five categories of stuff you can sell beyond the book
Audio for Episode 11: The Authorneer’s Journey, Part 5: Author Business Planning
Runtime: 11 minutes, 17 seconds
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Video for Episode 11: The Authorneer’s Journey, Part 5: Author Business Planning
Transcript for Episode 11: The Authorneer’s Journey, Part 5: Author Business Planning
NOTE: Due to some ad libbing, this may not be an exact transcript.
Hello! And welcome to The Author Switch, a podcast dedicated to helping aspiring and new authors turn on The Author Switch to success in their minds. This is Episode number 11. If you missed any past episodes – especially episodes 3, 5, 7, and 9, in October, December, January, and February – go to authorswitch.com to find them.
I’m your host Carma Spence, author of five books, including the award-winning and bestselling Public Speaking Super Powers and the now in pre-order second edition of Home Sweet Home Page.
You may be wondering why I emphasized catching those odd-numbered episodes of this podcast. Well, in those episodes I talked about the first through fourth steps in the Authorneer’s Journey, and in this episode, I’m going to share step number five. These episodes are part of an eight-episode series on the Authorneer’s journey.
I assure you that each episode can stand on its own and you will gain valuable information about the various parts of the writing, publishing, and marketing-a-book journey from each episode individually. However, they will help you more effectively if you listen to them all because they will give you a more holistic view of what goes into making a living as an author.
Now on to Part Five: Business Planning!
Oooo. Isn’t that sexy!
I know that business planning doesn’t sound all that exciting, but if you are going to make a living as an author, you have to think like an entrepreneur and plan out how you are going to make that money that supports your living.
In this episode I’m going to talk about three things:
- What I mean by thinking like an entrepreneur
- What I mean by business planning for an author
- Some ideas you can use to make money as an author beyond selling books
First, what does it mean to think like an entrepreneur? Entrepreneurs understand that they only get paid when they create value for their audience. That’s the simple, baseline definition. But there’s more to it.
You can create value until the cows come home, but if your audience doesn’t know about or isn’t convinced of that value, they won’t buy. So a better definition is this:
Entrepreneurs understand that they get paid when they create value for their audience and are able to communicate that value to their audience.
As an author, you are creating value for your audience through your books. But it does have to stop there. And your true fans don’t want you to stop there.
A lot of authors think of themselves as merely long-form writers. They write books, and that’s it. And when they are stuck in that mindset they do themselves, their message, and their audience a disservice. And I’m speaking to both nonfiction and fiction authors here.
Harry Potter fans love the books. But also love the wands, and the capes, and the banners, and the movies, and the theme parks, and play quidditch and whatever other spin-offs from the books that speak to their personal style off geekiness.
Nonfiction readers love the books, and the workbooks, and the seminars, and the videos, and the companion books, and the articles, and whatever other spin-offs from the original book that speaks to their personal style of engagement with the topic.
So why not give it to them. That’s what thinking like an entrepreneur means. It means thinking about how you can better serve your audience. Yes, you’ll make money. And it may be very good money. But it is first and foremost about the value you are creating.
Follow Zig Ziglar’s advice:
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
In a moment, I’ll talk about point number two: what I mean by business planning for authors. But first, here’s a short commercial break.
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Hello! And welcome back to The Author Switch, the podcast dedicated to helping aspiring and new authors turn on The Author Switch to success in their minds. I’m your host, Carma Spence, author of the bestselling and award-winning book Public Speaking Super Powers as well as the now in pre-order second edition of Home Sweet Home Page.
Before the break, I spoke about what it means to think like an entrepreneur when you are an author. Now on to point number two: What do I mean by business planning for an author?
I want you to step back for a moment from what you want to accomplish with the book you are working on right now. Stop thinking about becoming a bestseller or making a certain number of book sales or even growing your email list or platform. I want you to think bigger and answer this question:
What do you want long-term? What will this book and all those things I just told you to stop thinking about accomplish for you? What is your end game?
In other words, stop thinking about the trees and take a look at the forest. What kind of forest is it? What kind of forest are you trying to create here?
That’s your vision.
Your mission is how you intend to bring about that vision.
Your author business plan unfolds from that. I don’t have a lot of time in this podcast to go into the details of a business plan, but I will give you a brief outline and put links to resources in the show notes because I’ve covered this topic a lot on my blog.
A basic author business plan looks like this:
My vision is this: You describe in two to three sentences the forest you are trying to create.
My mission is this: You describe how you intend to bring that vision to fruition.
My big goals for this year are: Name three. Period.
My big goals for the next five years are: Name three. Period.
If you can do that much, you are way ahead of other authors and are more likely to succeed. A more detailed plan is better, but this is a good first step.
Point Three: How do authors make money beyond selling books?
I’ve already hinted at some in this episode. Here are the five general categories of things you can offer beyond the book:
1. Companion Books: These are books that are related to the first book. They can be workbooks, journals, prequels, sequels, and so forth. They depend on the existence of the first book to make sense.
2. Other Formats: Take your book and sell it in a different format. Books come in eBook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook format. Offer your book in as many of these formats as makes sense.
3. Adaptations: Take your book and adapt it to some other media or method of communication. The adaptations people are most familiar with are movies and television shows. But you can also adapt books into video games, coloring books, picture books, online courses, seminars, podcasts, membership sites, board games, theme park rides, card games, and so forth. You can get really creative with this category.
4. Adjunct Offers: These are offers you can create that are related to the content of your book or who you are but not necessarily a spin-off or adaptation of your book. You can offer coaching, an immersive event, or training. For example, a lot of fiction writers teach writing. That’s not related to their book, but it is related to their talent.
And finally 5. New Books: These are completely new books on new topics. For brand cohesiveness, it is best if they are in the same broad genre. For example, if your first book were about how to train rabbits, you might stick with books about training pets, or animals in general. That said, many authors have made multi-genre careers work well for them.
The next step in the Authorneer’s Journey is Pre-Publishing. I’ll talk about that in lucky episode 13 of The Author Switch in the second half of April. Between now and then, in episode 12, I’ll be chatting with Mark MacDonald about how to be known for something. I hope you’ll tune in!
Until then, this is your host, Carma Spence, signing off. Ciao!
About The Author Switch
The Author Switch is a podcast dedicated to helping experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners turn on The Author Switch — and keep it on — so that they can leverage the power of books to take their businesses to a whole new dimension. You learn more about the show on its page.