Author Platform Building, One Plank at a Time, Part 2

PART TWO: Creating Your Book Business Plan

One of the most productive things an author can do is write a Book Business Plan. It’s a required exercise for authors writing non-fiction book proposals and in my eyes, easily as important as actually writing the book. Why? Three simple reasons.

1) Writing is a business
2) Writing is YOUR business
3) Nothing reminds a business person about the importance of their business more than a business plan

This is the reason the very first serious effort you should make in building your Author’s Platform should start with a Book Business Plan. Don’t be afraid, it’s not so bad. If you’re writing a non-fiction and using the plan as a book proposal, you will need to go much further and that’s another blog all together. For now, we’re talking about why and how a fiction author should put all the ducks in line, numbers where they belong, and place everything in a neatly wrapped package.


To keep on track. How many times have you gotten deep into a writing project and completely forgotten where your going with the book? Not the story … THE BOOK? A Book Business Plan keeps you on point as far as how you plan to expose the novel and excite people about the book you’re writing. Some of the elements in the plan may change due to the trajectory of the fiction … and vice versa. But, unless you are constantly aware that the writing of your novel and the strategy of your platform need to grow and vacillate together, you could be very, very lost come explanation time. You know the time I mean, when your agent, prospective agent or prospective publisher asks, “Now how do you see this book being sold?” Major DUH moment. Prepared is always better. The last thing you want is to be put on the back burner until you have a clue about your buyer audience.

To keep the monkey off your back. I have a personal, irrational fear of those flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz and whenever I start a project, I always look over my shoulder. They’re out there, waiting to pounce. Not knowing how to assure your writing project’s success is as bad as being unsure of how to construct a decent sentence. And even if you can write like Steinbeck, the winged monkeys will be nipping at your back if you don’t know what to do with a finished product. Both traditional and self published authors MUST know the score. Sales of your product will be gauged and wealth can be made … but only if YOU take an active roll in plotting the path to success as well as you plotted your story.


Take a deep breath. An efficient Book Business Plan is designed to fully outline your project and bundle it all together for ease of implementation.

Get a notebook and pen and follow these simple prompts. This will take a few hours. Turn off the radio and sit quietly for a moment before you start, then just go down the list and start jotting down everything you think of under each category. You’ll be amazed how much of this you’ve already thought about, but without writing it down, you can and will lose it. Now, let’s get started.

1. Your Unique Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

  1. What about your book will make readers run to the bookstore, Amazon or e-book venue to buy it? More next week on this subject.

2. Length of Book

  1. Always have this in mind, it may limit or open a huge opportunity for specific authors. For example, novellas in print – 40,000 words – are less successful sellers than full novels – 70,000 to 100,000 words. But in e-pub, novella length pieces sell well.

3. Proposed Markets for the Book

  1. Seriously, if you already don’t know where to find your readers, you should take time to do some discovery. Knowing who you’re writing for and where to reach them makes everything from conceptualizing the plot to envisioning the sales venues a whole lot easier. More on this in a few weeks.

4. Subsidiary Rights, Imagine High!

  1. Serial rights to excerpt/translation rights/TV/movie/merchandising/etc.
  2. Translation rights
  3. TV/movie rights
  4. Merchandising

5. Your Exposure Plan

  1. Visibility and Exposure: Website? Facebook? Twitter? Press release campaign? Advertising? Book Trailer? Book Signing Events?
  2. Expense for this exposure in money and time

6. Your Promotional Plan

  1. Your commitment to promotion. Make a promise and follow through.
  2. What professionals you will use? Research agents, literary agents, author liaisons, publicists, advertising agency, promo services? More coming on this subject soon.

7. Listing of Competitive/Complimentary Titles

  1. Know who else is writing the same kind of novels, not only to be aware of your competition, but to assure your work is unique enough to stand against them.

8. Resources Required to Write the Book

  1. Expenses. What do you need to pay for? Printer ink? Computer programs? Memberships to agent search sites? More to come on this too.
  2. Permissions. Are you using something you shouldn’t use in your book? A trademarked name or company that requires permission? Think and check it out now so you won’t regret anything later.
  3. Special Packaging. Get creative. Is there something super cool that your book can look like to make it stand out? A 3-D cover? A square shape or long horizontal shape? A cut-out peek-a-boo cover? Let your imagination go. You may not get to do it, but publishers love to know you’re thinking about making the book stand out on a shelf. If e-publishing is in your future, will a crisp, short music clip add to buyer interest? Enjoy this process and imagine yourself as a customer. What would pull your eyes to that book?
  4. Budget. Be smart right now. Set a limit and stick to it. And don’t think for one minute that super exciting exposure can’t be done on a shoestring. But again, THAT’s for another blog series I’m planning in the Spring.
  5. Timeline. THERE’S NO TIME TO WASTE. Repeat that, THERE’S NO TIME TO WASTE. Make it your mantra. Urgency within reason can make or break a book launch, and you never know who else is out there writing the same basic concept in their novel. When Albert Einstein was trying to prove his Theory of Relativity, there were several other scientists and mathematicians doing the same thing at the same time. THERE’S NO TIME TO WASTE. But oddly, time is on your side if you handle it correctly. I’ll be covering that later in this series.

9. Bio and Photo

  1. Just because you should have it done and ready at all times. Keep it up to date.

10. Book Outline

  1. For Non-Fiction you’ll need
    1. Per chapter description
    2. Page count
    3. Number of illustrations
  2. For Fiction you’ll need (for your files, since many venues, agents and marketing companies require different lengths of synopsis)
    1. A 250 word synopsis that can be used as part of your pitch letter
    2. A three page synopsis
    3. A five page synopsis

11. Show & Tell

  1. Illustration Ideas for Cover Art (Just because it’s important for you to have a clear vision. Most publishers develop cover design with or without your input. It’s always best to have something, even a folder filled with images you saw and liked that felt like your book. No one says you have to be an artist or hire one, you just have to have vision)
  2. Clips of Your Work (Excerpts should be chosen and set aside in a file for when a publication, hosting promo site or press release requires one)
  3. Ideas for Book Events (Things you will do to make your book signing event unique and securely connected to your plot. Does your character wear a yellow bow tie? Should you? Is he a werewolf? Maybe a stuffed toy wolf on your table or a werewolf pin on your lapel. Get creative, always connect you, your book and your characters to your readers.)

There you have it, all the elements to create a strong Book Business plan. As stated in the outline above, a few subjects will be explored further in this series. I’d appreciate any input from you on this series or any series you might like to see in the future.

Now … go build the base for your Author’s Platform with the best Book Business Plan you can develop!

About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus

5 responses to “Author Platform Building, One Plank at a Time, Part 2

  • Laurie Ryan

    Great article, Deborah. Thanks!

  • Kayelle Allen

    Hooo boy! I have some major work to do!

  • Ann Charles

    I hadn’t thought about cover art before now. That could be a fun part of building my plan.

    Ann Charles

    • Deborah Riley-Magnus

      Ann, you nut! You read ALL of these last night? So excited you’re getting some good stuff from them!

      Cover art is one of those things author’s don’t always have a lot of control over, especially traditionally published authors. But I’ve found that when an author gets excited about an image, it mutates into an integral part of their vision for success! Who knows, maybe it even opens the universe to getting the kind of visual image you really do want for you cover down the road? One can always hope. And I’m all for whatever keeps an author excited about this whole process of Platform Building.


  • Ann Charles

    Hi Deb–Yes, I found your site and gobbled up the first four in one sitting. It was like a mini-workshop. 🙂 I was very happy to have found all of the great info.

    Take care,

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