We have a LOT of terrific sessions planned for CAC17, and we are still adding more. One of those amazing sessions will be:

Bigger Than Books: Business Growth Applied to Authorship & Beyond – What more does it take to be a successful author?  Whether you’re represented or self-published or somewhere in between, using overarching business tools are a huge assistance in building success. How can the tools commonly manipulated by marketers, large and small companies, and retailers help you create a successful ‘business plan’ as an author?  From multi-pronged approaches, to developing a tiered ‘clientele’, to organization and presence, business is business, whether you’re an author or the manager of Apple.  Use those same tools to create yours.

The presenter for this class, Sara Dahmen, a Chanticleer Grand Prize winner and business owner, took time out of her week to provide us with this article based on her session.

If you’re an author, you’re also, by default, a self-employed business owner. I know many of us don’t take out LLC’s or even own our own URL, but the fact remains, if only on paper, that we are all business owners.  There’s a resounding ring to that.

Business owner.
My own boss.
The plotter of my own destiny.

Excellent.  So, once we’ve all recognized that fact…now what?

Being a successful author is more than simply selling some (or a lot!) of books. Even getting 20,000 books out there is not going to be a sustainable career. Once those 20,000 books have been read (and unless you continually churn out best-sellers), you’re left with a bit of a hangover and half-formed additional ideas. None of these bode well to continue the business of “you.”

Success is measured both by income and by long-term growth. It’s a bit hard, and not nearly as wonderfully artsy to say, but it’s the truth. If you’re going to be a successful small business owner, you need to pull up a chair with the left side of your brain and get to work.

A multiple pronged approach is best, and each person’s strategy will vary widely depending on your audience, which should always be broader than a singular author’s platform. There are a myriad of business tools out there – some expensive, and some free – that can be harnessed to create a wide-scale business bigger than a book.

A business owner will always have a product or a service. You have that already: your book. And a business owner will also have a marketing strategy (and we all know many of those…but many are also often forgotten or overlooked or we get in a rut and forget to think outside the box) that encompasses far more than a blog, a website and some social media. And a business owner will think long-term. A one-hit wonder will be lovely, but after that advance is gone and the shine has worn from those book covers, you’ll need to ask yourself: what now?

Business is business, and books are business in many more ways than getting some readers and a publisher. Whether you write it down (pun intended!) or not, writers need some sort of a business plan that goes beyond writing the words “the end” and I’m not just talking about plastering a Twitter page with a bunch of book launch announcements.

Authors should walk into the arena equipped with answers to the questions:

What do you believe: about yourself, your book, your future plans?
What are you going to do to make those future plans happen – and how?
Who do you need to know to help you?
And what kind of wacky ideas can you dream up for yourself…and then do?

I plan to tackle much of this in a presentation (Bigger Than Books: Business Growth Applied to Authorship & Beyond) at the Chanticleer Author Conference in Bellingham WA the weekend of March 31 – April 2 where I promise I will be far less vague and incredibly specific. If I had my way, we’ll all be drinking a little booze while I talk, and then we talk.  Looking forward to it!

Sara Dahmen: Author & Entrepreneur

Sara Dahmen is a metalsmith of vintage and modern kitchenware in tin, copper and iron. Her debut novel, Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper, won the Laramie Award Grand Prize for Western Historical Fiction, and inspired House Copper & Housekeeper Crockery – American-made cookware. She has published over 100 articles as a contributing editor for multiple magazines, book blogs and review blogs and spoke at TEDx Rapid City, at the Historical Writers of America inaugural conference in Williamsburg VA, and has co-chaired the Port Washington Literary Festival since its inception. Prior to her writing gigs, Sara was a print, radio and TV producer in Milwaukee and owns and has operated a nationally award-winning event planning company since 2006. When not writing or sewing authentic clothing for reenactments, she can be found hitting tin and copper at her apprenticeship with a master smith, reading the Economist and reference books, or playing with her three young children.