Creating Your Map to Successful Authorship

Hi everyone! Today we have author and writing coach Nina Amir here to discuss how to plan your route to becoming a successful author.  These days, it doesn’t matter if a person chooses a traditional path or a self published one–all authors must roll up their sleeves to not only craft a great book, but also to implement a business strategy that will give them the best chance of hitting the brass ring.

Becca and I are big fans of career planning and have shared our own business plan at Jane Friedman’s site in hopes of encouraging others to become more structured and business-minded. Nina has some great advice on how to ask the tough questions before you write a novel, so that you and your book are aiming for success right from the start!

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Nina_AmirMost writers get a book idea and sit down to write. Yet, to create a successful book, it’s best to consider the business aspects of a book project early—before you write. That’s why writing a business plan for your book represents the first-step for a successful book project.

As writers develop business plans for their books, however, they often develop business plan for their careers as well. After all, when your book—or books— succeeds, so do you, but you need to know how to achieve that goal.

If you want to achieve your goal and arrive at the place called “Successful Authorship,” you need a map and directions. A business plan for your career, along with the one for your book, provides both map and directions. By taking the time to create both types of plans, you create a big picture view and directions to get to Successful Authorship and a more detailed view and directions for every stop along the way.

How to Create Your Map to Success

A book proposal provides a time-tested template used to create a business plan for your book. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this document is only necessary if you want to traditionally publish. A proposal serves as a phenomenal foundation when creating the business plan for either a traditionally published or a self-published book. Used correctly, it helps you, rather than an agent or acquisitions editor, determine the viability of your book idea. By accumulating the information necessary for each section of the business plan, you have a chance to evaluate if your idea is marketable. A marketable book sells, which means succeeds.

The business plan for your book also provides directions for how to get from the idea stage to the published stage of the project. That’s why it provides a map and directions for one stop along your way to Successful Authorship. If you plan to write just one book, this might be your final destination. If you plan to write more than one book, this map will highlight one stop along the way to Successful Authorship.

As you go through the process of developing a business plan for your book, evaluate yourself as well as your book idea. Determine:

  • if you have enough platform
  • if you have the right or enough credentials
  • if you are an attractive publishing partner or are ready to become an indie publisher
  • if you are prepared to write and publish your book now

Additionally, determine if you are a one-book or multiple-book author. Here’s where the career planning really begins—and when you realize it’s best to have a business plan for yourself as well as for your book.

Are You A Multiple-Book Author?

Most publishers prefer to take on multiple-book authors because the more books an author writes and publishes, the more books that author will sell via the publishing company. If you plan to self-publish, the same holds true. You stand a better chance of succeeding over time if you publish more than one book via your new publishing company.

Writing books early in your career without knowing if you will become a multiple-book author is like traveling toward Successful Authorship without a map or directions. You may find yourself producing books in a scattered manner and getting lost along the way. Also, your readers may get lost along with you because they won’t feel you have provided them with a clear way to get from one book to the next.

To avoid this problem, brainstorm the possible books you might write in the future. With this list of books—and pitches for each one—sort the ideas into a logical order. Ask yourself:

  • Which one should follow my current project?
  • Which one comes after that?
  • How do all of them fit together into a meaningful theme or structure?

Include those that immediately follow your current book project in the proposal or plan for that book and in the plan for your writing career.

Creating an Author Brand

Look at all of these ideas. Maybe you have three. Maybe you have five. Maybe you have fifteen varying in topic. Can you find an “umbrella theme,” something that links everything together?

A series of books, a certain type of books or a group of books in a particular subject area can become your author “brand.” It can become your area of expertise, your unique label or the “thing” for which you are known.

How and when your roll out your books—and what books you decide to write—then will fall into place. Your personal career business plan offers you the big-picture view of your trip to Successful Authorship and the plans for each book you write, each one a stop along the way, provide additional detail to ensure you make it to that final destination.

Happy and successful travels!

ATMNina Amir, author of the bestselling How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writers Digest Books) and The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively (Writers Digest Books), transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. A sought-after author, book, blog-to-book, and results coach, some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She writes four blogs, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month.

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Business Plan, Goal and Milestones, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Creating Your Map to Successful Authorship

  1. Taonga says:

    I have been working hand in hand with a friend author/writer and he has published 6 books so far. 4 where indie published while 2 where done by some publishing company. We never really took the marketing and business planning aspect seriously, we where rather quite all over the place and I feel we have spent so much and gained very little over time. This is an eye-opener!

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  4. Caryn McGill says:

    Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve always loved your website and your old “lists” were so valuable when I started writing. I wrote a recommendation about your site and your great books as part of the A-Z Blog Challenge, drawing the letter “I” and spinning “Improvement”, via your books and site. Check it out! Thanks for all the help!
    Caryn @writonsisters.com

  5. Nickey says:

    I am so comfortable doing this for academic articles and books that it never even occurred to me to do the same for fiction. Appreciate the advice and links.
    Thank you

    • This was my first thought when I read this post too, but I can totally see how well it will work for fiction too. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

    • Nina Amir says:

      Nickey,

      Thanks for your comment! So many writers say, “Business plans and proposals aren’t for novelists.” It really isn’t true. Every writer needs to plan out his or her book and career. And the more marketable you make yourself and your books, the more successful you and your work will be.

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  7. Julie Musil says:

    I never thought of creating a plan before the book is written! Good advice, though.

  8. Robyn LaRue says:

    I worked on a five-year plan but need to sit down and do a real business plan. My goals more resemble the moving arms of an Octopus than a nice flow chart. 🙂 Still , having an idea where I’m going has helped me when I decide which book is next. Thanks for the tips!

  9. Nina, I used to fly by the seat of my pants and hope for the best. Ha. Now I’m trying to develop a REAL strategy and this post helped me a lot! I especially like the section on creating your author brand. This is much appreciated. Thank you Nina, Ange, and Becca. You guys ROCK! Yeah man! xoxo

    • Nina Amir says:

      Robyn,

      You aren’t alone! I did, too. And I ended up with tons of book ideas in many varied areas. I needed a ton of help figuring out how to tie them all together into a workable plan. In fact, I’ve even enlisted a new literary agent to help me figure it out and continue strengthening my brand as I do so. So, really…do this EARLY! You won’t regret it.

  10. :Donna Marie says:

    I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to all of you. I’ve read about the business plan angle of things, but related it more to nonfiction pursuits which I don’t plan on doing. I do see its value, though, for any book. Nina, I plan to check out your book, and Angela and Becca, your post on Jane’s site is invaluable. Thank you SO much 😀

    • Nina Amir says:

      Donna,

      Thanks for your comment, Donna. Although some novelists dismiss a business plan out of hand, it really is important and can help them write a book that produces more sales.

  11. My life is completely different now that I work with a plan vs just try to intuitively juggle a spectrum of writing things. And I second the idea that a person should write a book proposal even if a person plans to self publish. It really helped Becca and I understand who our market really was and what they needed, as well as identify secondary markets and find opportunities for discoverability.

    Thanks for visiting us, Nina!

    • Nina Amir says:

      Those are great points about producing a business plan (proposal) for an indie book, Angela. Plus, a competitive analysis helps you determine how you can hone your idea so it is truly unique.

  12. Lori Schafer says:

    Hi, Nina. I particularly liked what you said about planning a path for all of your projects, rather than simply focusing on completing the current one. I think this is really key to building a long-term career, yet it’s a step that’s so easy to disregard or overlook when we’re deciding what to do next. Good planning doesn’t have to hamper creativity; done right, it can even enhance it.

    • Nina Amir says:

      Lori,

      Thanks for your comment. Some people do feel it hampers creativity, especially novelists, but it really can be the path to so many ideas. It’s a brainstorming session! I did this recently with a coach, and he helped me come up with two new series…not that I needed more ideas. Yet, these were ways to strengthen my brand and bridge from one topic area to another.

  13. C. Lee McKenzie says:

    Great tips for the serious writer. Since I backed into this fiction writing business, I’m doing the plan now after publishing three books. I’m hoping better late than never works. Thanks for your post today.

    • Nina Amir says:

      C. Lee,

      You are fine doing it now. As I said, in previous comments, I did some planning but not enough, and I’m struggling to make it all work. It’s really a constant refinement of the plan anyway! Good luck. And kudos to you for doing it.

  14. Sounds like great advice!! I see what you’re saying about mapping our books out by what’s come before. I plan to do this under two different brands.

    • Nina Amir says:

      Traci,

      I had two brands…or two different business sites. I’m now bringing it all together under one. I started this two years ago. Now I’m making a big push to complete the job and get rid of those two sites and move everything under one umbrella site–my branded author site. I think this makes it easier for readers to find you.

  15. Thanks for the blog. Much to think about!

  16. Great tips, Nina. I haven’t really focused on my business plan for writing, though I do in my day job as an attorney. I’ll be using your tips as I try to plan mine. It’s definitely something important if we want to be serious about our writing careers.

    • Nina Amir says:

      Natalie,

      It really is…and I didn’t do it as carefully as I wish I had in the beginning. It made author branding much more difficult for me. I now have a huge plan for the next 10 years, and it’s so exciting!

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