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134 - Building the Back End Business for Your Book


Hey guys! I thought perhaps I could squeeze in another podcast episode before Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I have family already in town and it always makes it a bit more challenging to stay focused on business and close out the year. Balancing the holidays as a self-employed entrepreneur can often mean you aren’t exactly beating to the same drum as others with free time to burn. When people see that you are home that often means that you are available. If you’re self-employed I know you understand this dilemma.

Sitting down to write and record a podcast isn’t always easy, but most of my clients are busy with holiday preparations so I had some quiet time to get caught up and ahead.  We have a giant storm blowing through here in the midwest and while everyone else is preparing meals, last minute shopping, and cleaning for guests, I’ve been trying to put plans in place for what I’d like to see in my business in 2023. How about you? Do you have a business book on the agenda?

The reality is that many of us are having to work things through differently now than we have in the past. Many are struggling right now with job losses, health issues, and there is a general uneasiness in the air. I’m right there with you! Nothing is easy for any of us right now. Humanity is facing a series of unique challenges the other side of covid or issues of election integrity, but I won’t go into all of those as I’m bound to get get censored and I have far too much to discuss today about some general back end practices for your book business that I hope will help you get more aligned with your business and book writing goals for 2023.

When authors are writing their book they generally have a strong passion and purpose in their message and it’s not always the case that they are thinking about all the backend business of their book until they’ve finally sent things off to the printer. There is a big sigh of relief when a book is ready to go to print but then, for the first time author, there is a big “oh dear God, now what?” that hits! When a new author takes a book to print it’s generally the first time they’ve even thought about the business behind the book.

In a perfect world, I will get a chance to coach a new author well before they go to print, but many come to me for book design and layout from another coaching system and they have never had a conversation with their coach about the business behind their book. In all reality, if you’re strong in your business, you probably don’t even think you need a coach and you just want the basics to getting your book published. But, there are some advantages to talking through your business book plans with someone that does nothing but books for a living. You see, there are a lot of coaching systems out there to help you write a book, but not many that also help you align the efforts with your business to get you a smart product that not only integrates into your overall business plans, but also guides you through the book publishing process. If you haven’t thought about how a book aligns with (or integrates) with your business well before you write, then I have some unfortunate news for you—you’ve missed an opportunity. Now, of course, if you are writing a general topic business book and you are contributing to a knowledge base - you can still set yourself up as an expert in your field. But, when people seek you out for more expertise on the subject you should always have something further you offer.

There are many advantages to writing a book that circles back around to what earns you an income, whether that is direct or indirect. The fact is that you’re missing a huge opportunity if you have nothing set up on the back end to bring interested parties back to. Let me give you an example…

I had a friend that wrote a book on a subject but got an opportunity to be on the Katie Couric show for another topic she was heavily involved in. The problem was that her book, website, and general foundation or platform had nothing to do with the topics she was discussing on national TV. She had nothing come of the interview because she missed her opportunity to bring people into her ecosystem. She didn’t even sell a single book! National exposure and no book sales! You’ve just got to be sure if you are out representing anything that you have a clear presentation on social media, a website, or someplace where it’s easy for engagement to occur.

You have to consider, not just your target audience as you write, but you also need to strategically develop and manicure the content to attain your well-defined goals at the onset of your project. You see, the book might be designed to set something you’re doing into motion, or further define initiatives moving through your business, or perhaps you’ve used the book for brand awareness, to pivot into new sectors of your business, or to correspond with a coaching program you are launching. Whatever it is that inspired you to write your book, you’ve got to make sure you set parameters to identify success… and of course, make sure you’ve done something to integrate with future engagements. How will you know you’ve met your book goals if you don’t set them before you send your book off to print?

It’s not my intention to stress you out, but have you developed a marketing plan before you began writing? If you thought about this while you were writing would it have changed how you wrote the content? Have you thought about your book launch before you are actually doing it? Did you want to gain sponsorships before you launch? Did you write anything in the content about your sponsor? How do they pair with your business? And how do you plan to sell your book? Are you launching with an eBook? Are you selling on Amazon, a website, and do you have a way to take payments? Is becoming a best-seller important to you? If so, do you realize all sales have to happen within a few days to gain that attention? Have you engaged an audience to support your best-seller goals for those special days? And, what format are you selling? eBook, audiobook, soft cover, hard cover? And when you are launching your book do you need to print flyers, how about postcards, banners, business cards, etc. And, when you launch are you thinking about profits on book sales or up-selling your brand, your coaching, or other services? Have you built a website? Are you set up with distributorship and if so, does your selling price account for the percentage you pay them? Can you see how many decisions have to be made? Now are you thinking that writing the book was the easy part? Many authors get here and kinda freak out because this is the point of reality check!

So, there’s clearly a lot to consider when you have written a book and you are sitting there ready to take it to print. This is the culmination of all the smart choices you hopefully made leading you to this moment. Is your book well-aligned, is it intentional, is it valuable, does it speak well to your brand and represent a positive image? So many authors worry - will I embarrass myself or make a mark in my field?

So many thoughts may come up for the author that wasn’t laser focused as they wrote. But, for the well-aligned author there should be many confirmations of clarity along the way here. If there is any hesitation or confusion at the point of printing then clearly something is missing. I mean, sure you re going to have some normal jitters because this is kinda a big deal. I mean only 2% of the population ever gets to this point of writing and publishing a book. Are you proud of your achievement? You should get here and feel well-aligned and purposeful as now it’s time for the hard work of getting your material in the hands of those seeking your knowledge and value.

So let’s take a minute and talk about some of these backend business items that are smart to think about for your book. I’m going to choose a few random topics to discuss. Let’s start here…

  1. Does your book integrate with or support your business?
  2. Do you have a goal identified to determine the success of your book?
  3. Have you clearly identified your expertise or platform?
  4. Do you have a landing page, website, social media, or any other presence outside of your book where a reader of your book can find you?
  5. Are you aware of the length of time it will take to receive your books from the printer?
  6. Are you launching with an eBook, soft cover, or hardcover?
  7. How are you selling and distributing your book?

1.  Does your book integrate with or support your business?
Clearly you don’t want to write a book about tennis if you are not a tennis player. I’m sure I don’t have to state the obvious here. But, you also probably don’t want to invest all kinds of time and money in writing a business book that doesn’t have direct ties to the business or industry you spend your days in. Generally an author isn’t going to write a book about something they don’t have expertise in. But, in order to best utilize the content of the book it should parle into something applicable to your business or it aids in positioning you as a center of expertise in your career. You’ve got to really sit down and identify how a book can best serve you, then how you mold it into serving your readers. I believe most people do this the other way around. Its your time and your investment and you just want to be sure there is a direct correlation to an outcome that serves you. I know this sounds a bit self-absorbed, but honestly… it’s expensive to write a book and you want to clearly identify how making this effort returns the personal investment you put forth. I want you to think about how the material in the book can jump off the pages and into practical use for you and your reader. Are you coaching or thinking about coaching? If so, then your book’s content should support that. Can you begin identifying the process you’d walk your clients or students through as you write. Is there a logical order to present the content. If you are writing about lifestyle or life events, is it in chronological order so it’s easy to follow? Do you have general guidelines that can be morphed into an supplemental workbook? How are you planning to do the teaching - online or in person? Does how you draw out your content matter for the presentation outside of the book? Are you starting a movement? If so, do you have supporting material that needs to be referenced outside of the book? Perhaps you need to identify downloadable PDF questionnaires? Where will these reside? Do you have to layout a website for proper reference in the book?

My point here is I just want to make sure that you have thought out all the details because once you print it’s hard to change references, include charts and images, or refer to source materials in exterior locations. Also, I want to make sue if you are doing some kind of coaching or teaching that the models in your book match up with the training materials.

2.  Do you have a goal identified to determine the success of your book?
Simply writing a book doesn’t mean that people will buy it or even read it. Purpose matched with desired outcome will be a better set of measurables for your book project. If your goal is to sell books then generally that’s a match for a professional author. If you’re not in the business of selling books then you need to stay focused on what it is you do for your business and not on book sales. Remember, the book is just a tool to create more awareness of the thing you do. It might be assumed that if one were to sell a large number of books the author would have more visibility. It might also be assumed that the author would have more eyes on their message the more books sold. However, selling more books doesn’t always convert to a more profitable book launch. Being a self-published author means you get to decide what success means to you. Personally, my goals changed with each book I’ve written. My first book - I had a goal of changing just one life. I wanted to make an impact. But, then my second book just sort of gave me a bit more permission to share some of the stories I didn’t get into my first book… it was written more as a listening project… listening to the creator about what else I needed to learn. I had no goal other than I had a strong personal desire to write it. It was my least sold book as a result. Sales meant nothing to me. I just needed to birth it. The third book I wrote was a book that was designed to be a love letter to guide someone on how to care for my dogs because, honestly, I thought I was loosing my life. I just wanted them to have the kind of care that they were accustomed to and I hoped whomever would end up caring for them would know how much they were loved. But, it wasn’t until I wrote my 4th book where I realized that it was now time to write a book that supported my income and the thing I did every day - book publishing. Honestly, it was written for three purposes: 1.) to lessen the repetitive conversations I was having daily with my clients, 2.) to showcase my expertise, and 3.) to lead authors into my online training program.

When you are self-published you get to decide what success means to you. Just make sure if you’re going through all this effort and expense to make your book a reality that you actually do define your goals as you are writing because the content you place in your book might change as a result.

3. Have you clearly identified your expertise or platform?
Your book is going to inherently make you an expert on your topic, so don’t be too surprised when someone asks you to elaborate on what you’ve written. Go into your book with the expectation that someone will ask for more, so have something to provide them when they do. For some authors, they wish to turn the book into speaking gigs, for others, they want to enhance their business. Whatever your identifying as your center of expertise, you just want to state it clearly so that you can best serve our audience well beyond the book.

4. Do you have a landing page, website, social media, or any other presence outside of your book where a reader of your book can find you?
Do you ever read a book or hear a song then it drives you crazy because you can’t find a single thing more on the author or artist? I have a particular African musician that produced my most favorite album back in 1998 and I always keep my eyes open for more but he’s simply gone missing. I have no idea if I’m pronouncing his name right, but it’s Ayub Ogada and he produced the album En Mana Kuoyo. If you ever saw the movie The Constant Gardener you probably would recognize his music. Anyhow, you just don’t want to produce something then go off the radar. Unless of course you simply don’t want to be found. I mean we all get to choose how we approach this. But, I’d assume you want to be found and heard if you are producing public material. Nonetheless, just be sure you are thinking through your social and online presence while you are writing, as it will be helpful to include websites and links in your book.

5. Are you aware of the length of time it will take to receive your books from the printer?
What many new authors are unaware of is the length of time it takes to get your book through the printing cycle. Because of covid, many printers have shut down and others that are still in business are picking up the load and are extremely backed up. It’s now taking 5-6 weeks to get a book through. So, you’ll want to think though your launch schedule when your book goes to print. Many authors are now launching with their eBook when their printed book goes off to print. This is also a common way to launch a book to hit a bestseller list. So, just know that there are many things in the process of producing your book that will delay the business behind your book. Working with a knowledgeable coach that is in the book business working through daily issues will help give you a list of what kind of snags you’re going to run into that you may not have anticipated. This is just one of the many benefits to working with a book coach.

6. Are you launching with an eBook, soft cover, or hard cover?
Many professional authors launch their book in all formats. Yet, many self-published authors launch the minute they have books in hand in just one format. Clearly there is a lot of planning that has to go into preparing all the formats for a simultaneous launch. Generally this means a lot of spending has to happen to get soft, hard, audio and ebook formats in hand and they don’t all arrive at the same time. The author must hold onto the formats and prepare distribution channels to hit a launch date. Many times the author relies on third parties to upload their materials and coordinating them to all hit simultaneously isn’t always easy. Generally the rule of thumb with a business book is to launch with a hardcover book because it’s the most expensive and professional, then create a softcover once your book has been out for awhile. Sure you can launch with a softcover but image is everything in business. This is especially the case if you have a stage presence. Most professional speakers launch with hardcover. Most indie authors launch with softcover. When you’re writing a business book you want to make sure you have an audiobook pretty quickly, if not at the same time as the initial launch. I’ve been told by many professionals that they don’t have time to read and prefer to listen to the audiobook while driving or running errands. If you are running any training program, whether online or in person, you will likely benefit from having an ebook. Many authors utilize the ebook or a PDF format to use as a kind of training manual in their program.

7. How are you selling and distributing your book?
If you’re hiring a distributor you’ll just want to understand the agreement and timing. There may end up being a competition with your website and distribution pricing that you’ll also need to be aware of.

I understand that not everyone writes a book as a profit center, but when you are writing a business book it will likely be written in the perspective of an author-preneur—that is… someone wanting to make a profit from publication. This is often thought to be a direct profit from book sales, but profits don’t generally come from book sales alone. Therefore, as you write (and before you move to print) it is my goal to get you laser focused so that the content you place in your book lends itself to the business behind the book.

While you are on your holiday break, you might want to start thinking through how you might begin laying out your business book plans for the new year. I hope this gives you some ideas on how to approach this.

Anyhow… I’m off to enjoy the holiday and curl up from the cold. As always, wishing you peace love and light. Happy holidays!

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