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 that business marketers use to create your multi-pronged marketing approach.

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.

Looking forward to seeing you there! – Sara Dahmen