It can be difficult for self-published authors to get reliable information about good business practices and strategies. There is a ton of online courses teaching you how to write and market yourself as an author. What these courses don’t teach is how to turn your art into a business.
This is a new, dynamic industry with unique characteristics that make it different from most traditional businesses. I am passionate about teaching indie authors like you to be savvy business owners.
I have met many artists who shy away from the business side of things, but businesses are innately creative. Creativity will be to your advantage when it comes to problem-solving and finding solutions. For content creators, it’s really a matter of knowing when and how to switch hats.
By the end of this assessment, you will have completed a gap analysis of your business. You will have a better understanding of what you need to put in place regarding your business strategy and operations.
The course is divided into three parts.
Part one will cover the general concept of the Golden Age of Content Creation.
Section two covers the concept of the Indie Author Growth Curve. This section also discusses book production, revenue, corporate structure, IP (Intellectual Property) strategy and wealth creation.
The final section is an evaluation where you will answer a series of questions. This assessment will help determine your trajectory on the Author Indie Growth Curve.
What should you get out of this Module?
- A better idea of where you want to go.
- Clarity as to where you are in your journey.
- A suggested roadmap to get there.
The results will help you understand what it will take to reach your goals.
The Golden Age Of Content Creation
Content creation and the media business have been around for hundreds of years. Print is even older! So why is now such a special time to be a content creator? Thanks to Amazon’s advent of Kindle Direct Publishing, we now have a democratized delivery channel. In other words, we no longer have to rely on publishing companies to accept and publish our work. Our readers get to decide if our work is worthy of its publishing. This creates opportunity and freedom for both creators and clients!
Historians will tell you that the printing press was a significant impetus to the Reformation. What really made Luther’s ideas take off wasn’t the initial printing. He was an intellectual and printed his thesis in Latin for other intellectuals. The firestorm started when the ideas were printed in German and the common folk got exposure. The democratization of Luther’s idea gave it critical mass.
Today, we have the flipside of that coin. The reason this moment in content creation history is so important is that there are massive open platforms, such as Amazon and Google Play, which allow content creators to find their target audiences. When it comes to finding and nurturing your tribe (audience), book publishing is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some more reasons why we are in the Golden Age of Book Publishing:
- An indie author can produce a written work, distribute it for almost no cost, and collect up to a 70% royalty. There’s never been a better or easier time to become a published author.
- We are still in the early stages of the self-publishing revolution! In other words, there is still a ton of room for growth and the overall market is far from saturated.
- The corporate publishing houses learned the hard way just how big readers’ appetites can be. The big guys held back and limited how much they published annually. As a result, they missed out on huge opportunities and talented authors. Frankly, they were out of touch with readers, and their customers were bookstores.
They especially missed the mark with romance novels, which is now the top-grossing genre on Amazon. Prior to self-publishing, romance novelists were seen as the red-headed stepchildren of the book publishing industry.
- You can repurpose your books! Many authors narrate or hire voiceover actors to convert their books into audio. Audible is the most popular app for audiobooks, but there are others, such as Google Play or Apple iBooks. You can use some of your book content to create blog posts. Just prior to your book launch, you can send the first few chapters to your email list as a teaser. You can even set up print on demand paperback books to sell on Amazon.
- You have control over changes to your book. Perhaps the cover design wasn’t a hit, or you found a typo. You can change it! You get to control the price of your books, as well as their descriptions. You can update your earlier books as your skills improve. If your book has time-sensitive information (such as current tech hacks), you can keep it updated as things change. You can even make these changes and relaunch the book as though it’s new! You can even play around with SEO for better search results on Amazon and Google.
It was just over 10 years ago that authors had to rely on publishing houses for everything from editing to marketing and distribution. Now you have the choice.
You can try for the book deal or start out as a self-publisher, build an audience, and then pursue a book deal. Some indie authors were discovered by major publishers after building a self-publishing presence. Some authors are hybrid authors, meaning they have a deal with a major publisher, but negotiated a contract that still lets them self-publish.
In this Golden Age of Book Publishing, you have the ultimate freedom over your destiny. You have options.
Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon are just a few of the network facilitators who skim profits by efficiently disseminating content to vast audiences.
The business of content creation has become so lucrative, many platform providers, such as Netflix and YouTube, have begun creating their own content. Not to worry, though. The demand for connecting creatives with consumers is too profitable to pass up.
Should these companies become complacent or too corporate for creatives, there are plenty of other platform providers ready and willing to take their place.
Content platforms are in high demand, and you have many options for self-publishing and marketing your work.
Here again, we see some fundamental changes. First, the market has learned that with the right pricing models people are prepared to pay for content and want more than was expected an would rather binge on content.
There is no more fringe. What was nerdy, or niche can have mass appeal. Quality content exposed to the general market will grow a mass audience. There is no better example than the Walking Dead. Starting as a comic book that you would have to look for if you were in a comic book store it is now in its seventh season and has massive appeal. Why? Because fundamentally it is a character-driven story about what people are prepared to do in dire circumstances. That has carried through from the first black and white comic to the AMC episodes.
One last thought on demand specific to publishing; there may not be an industry that ever got it so wrong as publishing did.
What I mean by that is the actual demand for content was orders of magnitude bigger than the big 5 publishers thought. Indie publishers are filling that role and while the big five talk about the shrinking market a new indie publisher each day quits their day job to leave the dream of writing full time.
How valuable is content?
Look to Disney. They have done two significant multi-billion-dollar transactions in buying Lucas films and Marvel. These are sound deals at these loft prices because this is a company that has perfected regurgitation content look at an example like the tween movie musical Descendants where they took the High School Musical concept and put in the descendants from all of the princess movies. New low-cost package of very old content.
What does this have to do with you?
If you want to publish works fiction or non-fiction, as a hobby or full time, there is no better time.
The ability for a person to create a business off the ideas in their head has never been easier or more lucrative. This does not mean that it is not going to require work and planning, by easier I mean the roadblocks of agents, publishers and costs have gone away.
If you are already self-publishing you know this, and you are looking for help on how to professionalize your brand and business. That is the next right step. Right now authors are converting to become publishers or content creation companies run by the primary content creator. This is a change and thinking ad requires you to plan and operate a growing business. What this does is future proof your income and open opportunities to new rivers of cash.
The take away is in the twenty-first century, in this golden age of content creation there is room for the person who has just one book they want to publish or the person that wants to publish two hundred books and then get them made into a TV series. What you need to do is get clarity as to what you need to make you dream a reality. First you need to determine what you want to do on the spectrum from publishing one book to building a media empire. Then determine where you are on the growth curve, with those things in mind you can get clarity as to where you are and where you want to go. There rest of this module will help you to plan how to do it.
The Growth Curve
The Areas the assessment will cover:
- The Growth Curve
- Book production
- Corporate Structure
- IP Strategy
- Wealth Creation
No two author businesses are the same and it is hard to say if you do X then Y will happen as an indie publisher. I know you would love some type of linear correlation of the number of books to a level of revenue, or a formula that gets you to quit your day job but it doesn’t exist. What we can tell you if you coordinate your activities with where you are at on the growth curve you will move up it faster. The infographic to the left shows the five segments, again these are not carved in stop but guidelines for how to think about where you are at and where you are looking to go.
If your plan is to never write more than that one book that has been haunting you for decades then you need to focus more on getting the book out and not planning for later stages of indie publishing. If however, you look to build a publishing empire knowing where you are going and layering in the suggestions will get you there faster with less risk.
Let’s begin by looking at the content you produce. We are big believers in the minimal viable product. You need to find out if people like what you have to offer. If you have never published a book before that’s OK were are going to give you some options to figure out quickly if you have an audience out there to connect with.
The first thing you need to validate is if your writing resonates with an audience. If you’re new to writing we will share some options with you as to how to do this as part of your assessment results.
The big point here is if you suck as a storyteller we can’t help. That’s the product and if you can’t deliver a good product no business tactics can help. Sorry but let’s be real.
That being said the market will give you a wide berth if you are a great storyteller. They will overlook poor editing even poor covers if you have great stories. If you can deliver the story then the rest is education and perseverance.
One way of gauging where you are on your journey is the number of books you have published. If you haven’t published a book that’s OK. Still go through the assessment, as it will help you to understand everything involved with indie publishing and where it can take you. More millionaire authors have been created in the last ten years than in the entirety of publishing before the advent of the Ereader.
There is a correlation to the number of titles in your back catalog. The more content you have there is more opportunity there is for people to find some of your writing to enjoy, furthermore many avid reader seek deep catalogs so they know they will have hours of reading. Don’t let this discourage you just understand that more books typically lead to more money.
What if you’re finding yourself with good reviews and a decent back catalog but still struggling with sales. This becomes an exercise in rehabbing your products, If your not attracting new readers you need to look at top of the funnel marketing to get more readers if you have good readership of your first books but they do not read through the series then there is read through rehabilitation needed.
If your goal is to just get that one story out that is in you that is great. You will learn how to get your book published and tick that off the bucket list. However, if you are looking to build an indie publishing business then there is no better time than now.
Revenue is the most significant indicator of where your business needs to be. There is evidence that a deeper back catalog helps to create more revenue but it is not an absolute. What is absolute is that if you begin to generate regular book royalties over two thousand dollars a month there are certain business practices you need to be following to maximize profits and writing time.
80% of authors operate as Sole Proprietors. That’s a fancy way of saying you don’t have a registered business and report your income on your personal tax return. This makes sense based on the fact that 80% of authors never earn more than US$10,000 a year. The economics for the additional fees are not there. As your revenue goes above that number it does start to make sense to incorporate and use a company to reduce risk and separate yourself from your business. The company also acts as a structure for IP management and tax managment.
The content you create is an asset with value. How you manage and protect those assets is important. Intelectual Property Management isn’t about stopping people from stealing your ideas it should about having a clean organized portfolio that allows you to license those ideas to others.
While your copyright is in place once you publish you should register that copyright to make sure that you establish your rights as a public record.
Unfortunately, most authors are not doing this nor are they clearly documenting the partnerships and deals they are engaging in as co-authors.
More millionaire authors have been created in the last 10 years than in all the time prior. How is that?
First, the economics have changed with the higher royalties of self-publishing authors can earn a living selling books at a lower cost and the number of books to support oneself is lower.
There needs to be a strategy beyond just selling lots of books. An Indie Publishing business needs to develop various methods for wealth creation. This isn’t just trying to make a movie or sell merchandise. There are strategies to minimize your current tax burden and get money out of the business to invest in your future. This includes having proper retirement planning and investments and using a company to match those funds.
Again, most authors do not get to this point but if you are earning more from your books do you have strategies in place?
The next step is to complete the assessment. You will be asked a range of questions related to your current practices and where you are looking to go with your business. Upon completion, the third part will we be shown and you will have opted into a series of emails that will provide recommendations about next steps.
The help an author needs to get their first book published is very different from the needs of an author without a corporate structure that is now earning five thousand dollars a month. The assessment helps to deliver the one or two things that will be most helpful to you given your point on the growth curve.