What’s in a Book Business Plan?

As an Aquarian, planning months ahead is just so… Virgo.  Alas, authors need to plan our book’s content, production, pre-promotion, publication details and post-launch promotion. We do this so that our project is reasonably successful… and to get ROI. So what’s in a Book Plan?

For many authors who are a little further on in their journey, they will create this Book Business Plan for the publisher as part of the submission process. It certainly proves you’re serious.

The basic parts of your Book Business Plan are:

  • Summary (book pitch, hot selling points, purpose statement, anything special about it)
  • Target Market  (think more interest based rather than pure demographics)
  • Promotions  (everywhere you plan to promote your books)
  • Competing Titles (book titles in your niche space, including how well similar books have sold, which you find through researching on retailers, ie. Amazon, to find book rankings)
  • Complementary Titles (these are titles in the same genre perhaps, not directly competing ones)
  • About the Author
  • Your Platform (numbers of followers on social media and engagement levels, numbers of direct contacts in the field or email subscribers, media contacts)
  • Future Possible Spinoffs (planned titles)
  • Resources Needed to Publish Book
  • Chapter List and
  • Chapter Summaries (1-2 sentences to explain the chapter).

Competitive Analysis

One important aspect, carried out more in the planning phase of the book, is to do an initial Competitive Analysis. Part of this is looking at what readers in your space want (read reviews on Goodreads), and part of it is assessing similar books. Keep in mind to see where the TWIST or GAP could be for your book.

An example of this gap could be that there are hundreds of books catering for personal financial planning for the middle classes with super, shares, inheritances, etc, but there might be very little for the working class, the people who have just got simple finances yet want more help to get ahead financially.

Also look into the writers’ backgrounds by reading bios of those with competing books. They might seem like a high authority on the subject, but what could you add to your bio which is even more authentic?  Do you have life experience on the matter?  A new qualification?  Or a combination of successful events, attitude and experience?

Complementary Books

Complementary books are those which might fall into your genre, but are not direct competition. These can be a great source of joint ventures or reviews. Explore the similarities of your peers.

  • Memoir writers write their lives,
  • Art & crafts folk weave tales of creating,
  • Romance genre writers are bound by rules but want to have a heart-to-heart,
  • Biographers are collecting life facts–yet finding the themes,
  • Finance writers target different themes and levels from the same facts & figures.


Think Target Readership

You will be getting more of a handle on who your target is after all that Competitive and Complementary Analysis. One further step is to ensure that this target market is willing and able to buy your books.

If you wanted to write a book about using Cloud software and you were placed at an expo on all kinds of Cloud software, would your book sell like hotcakes to these insiders? These industry boffins are the people with the money and the desire to learn, and now you need to find out if they buy and read books as well. Many of them could be partakers of the eBook experience, iPad in particular. Finding out this information could change your decision on whether or not to go ebook first.

(As many Australians love to use iBooks (Apple’s publishing app) or even Kobo, these are ebook retailers which you may want to include in distribution). See here for 2015 report on break-up of sales outlets of US-based ebooks.


It’s easy to think of spruiking the book on Facebook, Twitter automated tweets, uploading to ebook promotion sites, and blog book tours. Virtual book tours are taking your message to several blogs/bloggers you’ve struck up a friendship with, one after the other for a condensed period of time.

You might also do a Review Swap with other author-bloggers. Sites for this are Goodreads author groups, Facebook author groups, and individual book blogger sites.  Amazon (in their Terms & Conditions) bars authors from swapping reviews and so does Goodreads, so you’ll find a lot of other book promotion sites popped up to fill the gap.

Places to find Review Swaps:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_folder/76746 Blogger Lift group, Goodreads forum

http://www.bookbloggersaustralia.com.au/  Book Bloggers Australia (not authors)

What about including non-traditional places like: conventions, seminars,  likeminded businesses with heavy foot traffic, through schools, book giveaways, etc

Your Platform

Conversing early with your social media followers — under a relevant account of course — could prove useful to research and moulding of your book/s. You might find a demand for varying themes on the issue, however, it’s best to do more analysis before jumping in.

Automating your tweets can be useful, with such tools as BookBuzzr, Social Oomph, or my personal fave, Twitterfeed (for Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn from blog updates — you need password access for all).  There are books and video posts dedicated to this, so search “Building an Author Platform” to get more help.

Future Spinoffs

Even if you are your own indie publisher, why not think like a big publisher… in terms of what future titles and merchandise can come from this one?

If you have a catchy title, part of that title could be made into other books for different audiences or problem/solutions. Series books always look better with a consistent look-and-feel of design and imagery.  This is a challenge when you are authoring books three years apart, so consider ordering an InDesign cover print layout template done which allows for easy modifications. You will need to stick to the same book size and approx. page length for this to work. (Your logo should be made CMYK 300 dpi)

Resources Needed

In this section, note down your preferred Print partner, your preferred list of designers (if still deciding), and any publishing mentor (e.g. Jennifer Lancaster) or agent.

Editors. Please note if your choice of editor has edited books before and is competent at both Developmental (wide view) Editing and Copy Editing (grammar, spelling), also called line editing.

Two editors can also be used for the different stages. If you use an amateur for initial editing suggestions, then use a professional book editor for the final stage.

Jennifer does book editing, developmental coaching, and offers book publishing mentoring to authors looking to self-publish.

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About the Author

Jennifer Lancaster writes money and marketing books that help educate and inform.

She is a freelance editor, copywriter, and book writing coach who believes in independence and personal growth.

After many years in the industry, Jen has created self-publishing training for authors and advice on book marketing - called Business Author Academy. She lives in sunny Redcliffe, Queensland.


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