Do you Have a Business Model?

Recent blog posts by Laura Benedict and Jordan Dane here at TKZ on backlists and embracing new writing challenges, got me thinking about how writers approach the business side of being a writer. Indeed, I just finished Jane Friedman’s recent book entitled ‘The Business of Being a Writer’ (which is excellent BTW) so I’ve been ruminating on this for a few weeks.

At the moment, I am in the thick of trying to finish the first draft of my current WIP before summer hits and my boys are home from school (which, no surprise, tends to make it harder to get writing done!). My agent already has quite a few projects to juggle, but one element I’ve really not been focusing on is the business model for my writing. My principal aim over the last few years has been to focus solely on my writing (with just a bit of social media thrown in) as I’ve been exploring YA, MG as well as adult historical fiction. In doing so, however, I haven’t really been exploring new opportunities for my writing (such as Radish) or adhering to any real kind business plan or looking to save on my expenditure by looking into utility saving sites like

Now, I feel at some point I need to take a step back and evaluate issues such as author platform, branding, backlist, and identifying new opportunities as part of a longer term strategic plan. However, just thinking about it all is making me anxious as I realize how far behind I’ve probably fallen. So TKZers, perhaps you can help.

How are you approaching the business side of your writing career? How do you view author platform and branding? Do you have a long term strategic plan? How are you identifying new opportunities and outlets for your writing?


14 thoughts on “Do you Have a Business Model?

  1. Author platform and branding is crucial, IMO. One of the hardest decisions I had to make this year was to leave the Kindle Worlds but I did so to stay true to my brand. As for a marketing plan, I concentrate on signing and book events in the warm weather. From May to October vacationers flock to the area, so I try to tap into that traffic. This August, I’m holding a Readers Appreciation Day at the lake/State Park, where the killer in my next release (which releases then) posed one of the victims. I need to get prior approval to wrap crime scene tape around one of the picnic tables and draw a chalk outline on the wood. Which involves visiting my contacts at the State Police. They’re incredibly supportive, but it’s not an easy request to approve without frightening the public. Wish me luck!

    Also, I’m studying best practices for video marketing. Which marketers say is the preferred method for 2018. Once I gather enough info., I’ll write a post about it for TKZ.

    • Except cops don’t use chalk outlines. Contaminates the scene. I admire your energy and creativity. We live totally off the beaten path, and I’ve pretty much abandoned things like showing up somewhere to sign books but end up directing people to the restrooms. My audience seems to be 95% e-book, but then I wonder how much of that is because I don’t do a lot of print book promotion.

      • Good luck, Sue! Sounds like your doing heaps and I look forward to reading your post on video marketing! Terry, I think book signings are getting tougher and tougher to do (well getting people to show up for them anyway!). What do you do promotion wise for your ebooks?

        • Thanks, Clare! You need to test the waters at different venues in order for signings to work. If only a few people show, scratch it off the list for next year. Most libraries don’t work, but we have one an hour north of me that packs ’em in. I’ve yet to see an empty chair. That’s the thing about signings and events. You need to be prepared to travel in order to target bookstores with lots of foot traffic. Till you figure out your area, it’s hit or miss.

        • For my ebooks, I’m currently using a ‘first in series free’ model for two of my series, and I do more promotion for the free books in conjunction with new releases in those series (one of which will drop June 4th.) I probably don’t do nearly enough. One thing I’m doing, and not to sell books as much as because I’m trying to help, is I donate a portion of my royalties from the first month of sales to the National MS Society (my daughter was diagnosed 4 years ago). I have a newsletter, a Facebook Page, a blog, but beyond that, I really don’t do much.

      • You’re right, Terry. They don’t use chalk outlines, but it’s the next best thing to a corpse. Hahahaha. I have a blast at signings. It’s one of the best perks of being a writer in a small town. I’ve had signings where two people showed. Didn’t matter to me. We still had loads of laughs. The trick is in choosing the right locations at the right time.

        • I just got off the phone with my editor, who was telling me about one of her authors who is a well-known entertainer, was doing shows as well as a book signing at a well-known indie bookstore. Despite being “known” she said he’d sold three books.

            • Maybe it was the author’s first time doing signings? No matter how well known you are online, or how great your ebooks sell, folks who attend signings are a total different audience. Just something to keep in mind.

              Sorry to hear about your daughter’s diagnosis, Terry. {{{hugs}}}

  2. Clare, I wrote a book about business basics for writers who want to make a living at this thing: In there I stress that these principles are not complicated, but do require action. Such as:

    1. Vision statement
    2. Goals
    3. Action Steps
    4. Reassessment

    But always, the engine that runs the writing business is the steady production of words. Business planning helps you direct the engine.

  3. I rarely ever comment here because I feel that, as an UNpublished author, I need to listen more than I need to open my yap.
    However, for this subject, I thought I might tentatively raise my hand from the back of the class to venture an opinion from the beginner’s side of things.
    For some quick’n’dirty background: I’ve written five full-length fantasy novels and one short story. When I say full-length, I mean 250k words. (Yes, I know that’s double the max standard for even Epic Fantasy. Yes, I know I’ll face the revision-circle-of-Hell someday soon. I’ve come to grips with that, even as I continue to edit and tighten the writing on the series while continuing to send out queries.)
    So the dark fantasy series is in hurry-up-and-wait-but-keep-polishing stage, while the short (an opening to the series) is awaiting anthology publication with the rest of my local writers group.
    What am I, an untried, unpublished, but hardly-newbie writer doing in the meantime? Freaking out about my business model, of course!
    Seriously…. Yes, I worry a lot about my business model, my platform, my social presence as a writer! I read & listen to everything I can get my hands on about the nitty-gritty of writing, specifically the oft-neglected publication side. (I’m looking at you, Sue, for that blog on video marketing! Haha!)
    I know these are the halcyon days of interminable boredom, but as soon as someone actually WANTS my ms, everything will ratchet into high gear like a rollercoaster tilting over that drop.
    So, until then, I’m nurturing my beta readers and Facebook followers with updates, industry shares, and photos & music I think applicable to my fantasy world. I’m working with my writer’s group. I’m trying to decide if I have time for a blog (full-time job on top of writing? Not so much.) I’m worrying about how much time should be spent on Amazon ebook readership (and learning how to work Amazon ads, thanks to one of my local group members.) I’m wondering how much time I’ll have to personally spend on marketing, ads, & sales of my own titles even if I am represented by a brick-and-mortar publisher. I especially worry about what my brand might actually be.
    In a nutshell, I’m TRYING to keep busy in the “downtime” with relatable tasks that will (hopefully) save me heartache & long nights in the future.
    And somewhere in there I manage to keep writing!

    • Cyn, sounds like you are doing a lot! But like all of us, worrying about everything seems to go with the business:( Hang on in there, as it seems like your juggling everything pretty well at the moment!

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