Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Business of Writing by @KimHeadlee: The Publication Plan #MFRWOrg #ASMSG

Jonas with quill pen. Public domain.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
"Plans? We don't need no stinkin' plans!"

I couldn’t resist riffing on the classic line from one of my favorite comedies of all time, Blazing Saddles. This was pretty much how I viewed independent publishing when I dived into the waters in 2013, and I don’t recommend that approach to anyone.

There were many reasons why I didn’t lay out a publication plan, not the least of which being that my father-in-law had just died, my husband the high school math teacher was up to his eyeballs in teaching (not to mention grief) so the lion’s share of the estate’s administration fell to me, and I latched on to self-publication as a means of retaining my sanity through that complex and exhausting process.

The fact is that a publication plan can help you boost sales and maximize the return on your investment. And your plan doesn’t need to be expressed in formal terms if your memory is good, or if you want to bookmark this page.

The major aspects of the publication plan are prepublication, launch, and promotion, and each phase entails a slew of decisions, most of which need to be balanced against your budget, schedule, temperament, and writing career goals.

Prepublication decisions to consider
  • The first aspect involves determining how many publication details—e-book creation, conversion, cover design, print edition layout, audiobook recording, etc.—you plan to handle yourself. I will share my thoughts about most of these details in future blog posts.
  • The next most important considerations are whether to incorporate and establish your own imprint. Making these decisions ahead of time will reduce your headaches later and will allow you and your books to appear more professional to the reading public.
  • Which edition formats will you be releasing for your book? The least expensive in terms of prepublication costs is the e-book, followed by audiobook, paperback, and hardcover. There is the matter of foreign-language translations, comics, and graphic novels if your genre lends itself to these types of editions, and then there are some of the more esoteric decisions such as large print editions.
  • If you’re releasing your book as an e-book, are you going to stick with Amazon exclusively, or will you be releasing to additional platforms such as Nook, Kobo, GooglePlay, and Apple’s iBooks Store? Since Amazon accounts for at least 75 percent of paid and free downloads for most authors, there’s a certain logic to launching a new title in Kindle Unlimited to take advantage of free and “countdown” promotions. However, given recent developments with regard to their crackdowns on Kindle scam artists, I advise granting Amazon exclusive distribution of your books for no more than six months to minimize the risk of Amazon shutting down your account with no warning, recourse, or chance of reinstatement because you’ve been unwittingly victimized by a “click farm.”
  • Are you going to pay for professional editing services or not? If you do plan to follow the wise path of hiring professional editorial services, keep in mind that you may need to schedule the delivery of your manuscript to the editor at least three months in advance of your target release date
  • What release date are you shooting for? Publisher sites such as KDP, Kobo, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital allow the establishment of future publication dates so that your book can collect preorders. At the time of this writing, Nook Press does not. You can circumvent Nook Press’s limitation, however, by distributing your title to Nook using Smashwords, Draft2Digital, or another third-party distributor.
  • How do you plan to build buzz about your book? Online using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media platform? By scheduling a “cover reveal” or “preorder party” blog tour or Facebook event? As many of those options as your time, your budget, your family, and your heart can tolerate?
  • If you have a smartphone, create an account at Square so that you can process credit cards for book sales at your personal appearances. This needs to be done at least a month in advance of your first in-person sales event to give them time to mail you the device (if you couldn’t find one on the shelves of your local Best Buy or Apple store) and for you to tinker with setting your price points, coding sales tax for your state, linking your Square account to your accounting software, and so forth.
  • Establishing a separate bank account for processing online transactions such as Square, KDP, and other deposits, as well as for paying writing-related expenses is not mandatory, but I have taken this step as a precaution against online theft, and I do recommend it even if you don’t incorporate your writing business.

The book launch
  • Where do you plan to announce your release? On Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your blog, or other preferred social media platforms? Schedule online events at least a month in advance.
  • I strongly recommend scheduling a “release blitz” blog tour at least two months in advance of your planned release date to maximize the number of reviews your book will receive at the time of launch. Reviews cannot be posted for books in the preorder phase, so having reviews lined up and ready to post on launch day becomes crucial, since many book-promotion sites have minimum requirements for the number of reviews a book has (and often a minimum star rating) before they will feature it.
  • Do you plan to announce the launch at a personal appearance such as a fan convention? If so, then you need to have physical advertising material—bookmarks, book cards, or swag—prepared to hand out as well as any vinyl banners or other advertising tools you plan to display.

Promotion, some of which I touched on above, is an entire activity unto itself. I will cover in-depth advice regarding the various aspects of book promotion in future blog posts.

*** Special announcement: I need your help! ***

Twitter has unjustly blacklisted this blog as a "spam or malicious" website. As you can see by its content, it is neither spam nor malicious. If you enjoy this site, please consider performing the following steps:
  1. Visit the Twitter website reporting page (
  2. Select the button that reads "I can't tweet a link because Twitter thinks it's spam."
  3. Specify as the "Problematic link."
  4. Fill out the rest of the pertinent details and click "Submit."
  5. (Optional but greatly appreciated) Tweet this blog post but in the link replace ".com" with ".ca", "",".ie", or any other Blogspot mirror site so that Twitter won't block your tweet from being posted.

Thank you so very much and have a blessed day.


I'm running a giveaway for an e-copy of The Challenge!
To enter, click HERE.

MailChimp subscribers to The Dawnflier receive exclusive giveaway opportunities.
Subscribe today
so you don't miss out!


All this month, you are invited to…

— Follow Kim on Twitter
— Follow Kim on Pinterest
— Subscribe to Kim's YouTube channel
— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow<

… and each action this month is good for one chance to win a copy of any of Kim's e-books.

Please enter often, and good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Scribble a note on the wall of the Maze so you can find your way out again... ;-)