Planning for Author-Entrepreneur Success

Jeff Bezos' iconic laugh does not endorse this post.
Jeff Bezos’ iconic laugh does not endorse this post.

I’m starting this post with an embarrassing admission. My original post — brilliant, ground breaking, and written late at night after several days working my day job at a local luxury retailer — has gone missing. I would like to say that I suspect nargles, à la Harry Potter, but more than likely I deleted it when I powered down my computer.

You probably wouldn’t have wanted to read it anyway. It was my business and marketing plan for 2015 and some of the more creative highlights included:

  1. Standing outside Barnes and Noble with a sign that reads, “Resist Satan — buy indie books.”
  2. Harnessing the power of my iPhone for email and other social media apps in order to learn why my calendar disappeared into the cloud with all the important business and personal dates on it, like the much-anticipated appointment with a local proctologist.
  3. Bombarding other writers I am acquainted with on Facebook with continuous status updates and posting each and every review as it shows up on Amazon. I will, of course, attach a convenient purchase link.
  4. Focusing my limited time on various forums and threads debating whether Jeff Bezos is developing a bio-feedback machine housed in a stealth drone that will enable him to steal story arcs from authors’ unconscious minds.

I realize all these ideas will lead to massive profit and fame and fortune, and that is why I wanted to provide a brief snippet — an insider’s look — to inspire you to write your own 2015 business plan.

In all seriousness, you need to write a business plan. In the same way that you draft an outline, however loose, to help steer the direction of a WIP, you can achieve a great deal if you take the time to write down your business and personal goals. Think less New Year’s Resolution, and more of an Author-Entrepreneur Plan. I put my personal goals right into the business plan. I’m one person — so whatever I want to achieve in any aspect of my life will draw from the same bucket of energy, time, focus, money, et cetera.

In looking back over my 2014 plan, I was excited to see that I somehow managed to hit every one of my major goals. There was one goal that took a bit of doing. As we all know, it is difficult to get media attention. I am not talking about the local newspaper with a distribution of two hundred subscribers. I am talking about some sort of major media — TV or print. You can hire someone to drive this for you, or you can do what I did: create an event that is newsworthy.

The launch of your new book is most likely not going to capture the imagination of a journalist. As we all know, lots of books are launched every day. There has to be an altruistic aspect to your pitch. You have to be giving something away, doing something for the community or a charity. This gives the journalist a topic they can sell to their editor.

In order to find the appropriate journalist to contact, you have to do a bit of reconnaissance. Scan your print newspaper for articles and figure out the pattern of the topics various journalists write about. You want someone who can get an article on the front page. If your topic is good you will be helping them and they will return your email.

For example, if you have written a book about domestic abuse you can contact a local woman’s shelter and organize a drive for them. These women leave their homes with their children to escape abuse, and often cannot bring the most basic items with them. A public service event like this might generate interest from a journalist. “Local Author Seeks Assistance for Women’s Shelter.”

This photo accompanied my feature in the Tampa Tribune.
This photo accompanied my feature in the Tampa Tribune.

The project that garnered me a front-page article in a major local paper was a lot of work. I designed a self-publishing overview for aspiring authors on PowerPoint. I presented this to the librarians who control the vetted resident authors program, they voted on it, and it was included in available programs that librarians could add to their schedule for the local library patrons. I offered it for free. Twenty-six aspiring authors attended it in November. I sold books, gained followers on Facebook, and connected with a great group of people who truly appreciated the free resources I provided. I was invited to speak at two book clubs with exactly the type of readers I am trying to reach.

My goal this year is to get on TV. I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to do this, and I welcome your suggestions as long as they are legal and have a bit of style. Good luck to all of you with your 2015 projects.

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

8 thoughts on “Planning for Author-Entrepreneur Success”

  1. I don’t think any forward-thinking indie author/publisher denies the need for a business plan. Where I’m stymied is *how* to write one that would specifically work for me, when the very phrase “business plan” makes my eyes cross. I’m not expecting anyone to read my mind to figure out what that plan would be. But that doesn’t leave me less confused, alas.

    1. Hi Meg,
      A business plan doesn’t have to be completely comprehensive the first time around. I would start with a simple outline regarding the projects you want to complete this year. Add a section on promotion. We have to promote our work, and there are lots of ideas here at IU and elsewhere that you can duplicate. Be specific, but don’t get hung up on too much detail. Post it where you can see it, by your desk, and adjust it as you think of other ideas to move you toward your goals. Dream a little… what accomplishments would reinforce your view of yourself as a successful writer/author? I write fiction, so those scenarios are easy for me to create. 😉
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Well done, on your accomplishments for 2014, Lois, and power to you for your goals in 2015. One of my goals for 2015 is to officially retire, again, from mundania and be at least as literary productive as the last time I retired in 2011.

    1. Hi TD,
      Retirement… that’s not in my future for a long time.
      I look forward to reading your work, written in that beautiful place you live.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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