Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Hard Truth About Self Publishing

createspace publishing
With your novel completed, it’s reasonable to presume the hard work is just getting started. Many of us hope to find an agent, then a publishing house that will send you a nice, big, fat advance on your magnum opus. To be honest, the traditional route is becoming harder and harder to follow these days, as publishing houses work on a much smaller margin and some aren’t interested in taking a gamble on an unknown author's works.

This leaves few options to the novice author, and though the satisfaction of completing a manuscript is wonderful, publishing and seeing it on bookstore shelves is even more rewarding.

To crack this market, Amazon has developed a platform where with a little know-how, independent authors can publish their own works, for free, on a print on demand model. Sure, the books are in print and people can buy them, but what is the real upside for the author?

In order to sell your self-published books, you need to market yourself. One way to go about this is to buy pay-per-click advertising on Amazon (along with an infinite amount of other authors) so that someone searching for something close to your manuscript will see your advertisement and then buy it.

createspace publishing
Also, you can invest your effort in attending book fairs. That comes with a cost, but it does put you face-to-face with your potential readers. This is a good option for self-published authors. 

Another option is to send out Advance Reader Copies with a professionally designed media kit to independent bookstores with the focus on getting them to request to put your book in stock. The issue is that you are now buying books from Amazon to send on consignment. Some bookstores will request that you pay the postage to have them send it back to you.

createspaceTo be successful, you may consider an advertising budget for Facebook and Amazon ads. The serious ad campaigns that do work are costly, but they do reach a targeted audience. 

The struggles for a self-published author are real. It takes a great deal of energy to gain momentum, but that's not all. Chances are that many bookstores aren’t going to want to place a Createspace book on their shelves. Why? Your Createspace book has an issue- it’s non-refundable and it’s print on demand. 

Bookstores are businesses with a slim profit margin. This means that shelf space is limited and they simply won't use space to put up your book in the hopes that it will sell. That represents a loss of real estate. A loss they can’t afford when larger book stores only stock big name publishing houses. 

We recently received this well-worded letter from a local bookstore where one of our clients wanted placement. The client used Createspace to publish their book. 

Hello, 
Thanks for your inquiry. We do offer a consignment program for authors who live within our immediate market, or whose books are set in or about the area. Based on list price, we take a % discount and pay out the remainder to the author on a quarterly basis for copies sold.
 
We have two requirements for accepting books on consignment, in addition to the local connection: First, all consignment books must be professionally printed, with title and author on the spine. Second, we do not accept consignment books which indicate Amazon or Createspace as the printer or publisher.
 
If neither of these is an issue, and the payment terms work for your author, we will be glad to move forward with setting up a consignment agreement. 

Sincerely, 
Book Store Manager

createspace publishing
So, what can you do? Give up? Spend countless hours fretting about how hard it is to become a writer?

No. What you can do is look for alternatives, such as independent presses like Purple Finch Press or discover a match on the incredibly helpful online writer's resource, the Writer's Market. 
 
These types of print houses are unique in that your book, which you still fund and control, has a worthy and selective professional publishing contract. You own the books, you maintain marketing and sales rights just as with Createspace, but you get so much more. Your marketing and publishing costs are funneled into the publishing of your book just the same, but in this instance, toward a fully-realized marketing team with a legitimate publishing company with interest in your book succeeding. Your book is released into the world with a print impress that has credibility and marketing in place. 

This method of publishing is something relatively new. In order to complete with larger houses, the independent publishers maintain a lowered overhead with print costs being covered by the author with the stamp of a professional print press. You gain legitimacy, enough to get your book honestly considered to be placed on any bookshelf in the country.
createspace publishing
You gain invaluable assistance from professionals who know how to market your manuscript, who know how to take your pride and joy and get it sold.

Your investment in such a print house project may seem a constraint on your budget, but if the goal is to be an author with a publishing house backing your novel, then this is one way to go.  You have a work of art that was selectively chosen by the print house to represent their brand. You have published a novel on your own terms, and you have opened a world of possibility for sales.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Step-By-Step Art of Crafting a Business Plan


business planA business plan is a defined road map that outlines the goals of a company in written form. Because it is designed to be updated, it is considered a 'living' document. A solid plan outlines the future of a company and contains elements that guide company decisions. Quite simply, a business plan is a description of a company's future. Hence, you must have one no matter the size of your company.

Having a well-written plan is essential for several reasons, no matter the size of the business. Not only does it act as an internal road map for guiding decisions, it is a requirement for courting investors and lending agents. Therefore, not having one often means the difference between receiving funding or going out of business.

This article will help draft your business plan by looking at what a plan accomplishes, what the basic elements are and how to manage them. 
 

Goals of a Business Plan

 

business plan
A business plan has two distinct purposes. The first, as mentioned before, is to act as a road map to keep the company on course with a cohesive vision. Therefore, the plan outlines everything from your company description to the details of your marketing plan. This ensures everyone is working toward the same goal.

The second purpose is to show investors and lenders the company's plan to grow and profit. After all, no one will invest a dime without seeing a clear road map to success. Therefore, a well-researched plan demonstrates to banks that your company has a strategy for succeeding, mitigating the risk of default. As a result, the plan acts a forecast for a return of capital.

Business Plan Elements

  • Executive Summary: Acts as a snapshot for your plan, with an abstract about your company and goals.
  • Company Description: Provides information on what the company does, how it's different from competitors and identifies the markets for your product or service.
  • Market Analysis: Contains detailed research reports concerning your industry, competition and overall market.
  • Organization & Management: Outlines your organizational and management structure.
  • Service / Product Line: This section details your product or service, including manufacturing information and benefits to the customer.
  • Marketing & Sales: Provides details about your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Funding Request: This section includes a formal request for funding.
  • Financial Projections: These projections help an investor or lender visualize their return on investment.
  • Appendix: Contains sensitive information such as bank account numbers, deeds, patents, resumes, phone numbers, tax and credit history. The appendix is not for all eyes, but only used on a need to know basis.

 

Managing a Plan

 

business planIt is important to keep a business plan together once completed. Each element relies on the others for supporting information, and having to review separate documents can be confusing. To keep them tidy, have them bound. Staples offers an inexpensive binding service.

Your plan is a living document. As such, review annually or quarterly depending on the business. Due to shifting market trends, competition and changing technology your plan should adjust as needed in a timely manner. Ensure all significant parties are in attendance during review and are providing feedback. Also, when changes are made make sure all concerned parties are notified.

A strong business plan is the foundation for a strong business. Look for future articles on drafting the separate elements of a business plan, or contact Spotlight Publicity for a free consultation.

What business plan tips can you share for start ups or companies that are re-branding? Please leave your comments below.