If you’ve had the chance to read The Future of Infinite Reverie post, you already know that I have been spending a lot of time researching and gathering as much information, tips, advice and beyond on beginning the independent publishing venture. I promised there, that I would share the information that I have found. I’ve decided to start that with these tips.
Write a Business Plan
Regardless of whether or not you plan to publish one or a thousand of your own titles, or publish for other authors as well, a business plan is an absolute must. They serve more purpose than just a document used for financing. A good business plan lays the foundation of your new venture and is an invaluable source for you to refer back to as things do change rather quickly and sometimes we don’t even realize we are off course.
There are multiple sources for templates or what to include in your business plan out on the web. One place I found a lot of valuable information is from the Small Business Administration. Obviously, they also have tons more valuable information, so you may want to make some time to browse around and take some notes.
A few things I’d like to add: If your goal is to publish multiple works, don’t worry about being super specific on the overall business plan. I kept mine on the vague side by include the genes and types of works I plan to publish. I also included that each individual work would have it’s own book plan that would provide more detailed information regarding target audience, marketing and sales plans and so on. As each of these individualize plans are created, they are then added to an appendix at the end of the general plan.
Next, don’t freak out if you don’t have an answer or know what to write for a particular part of the plan. I started with the parts I thought were easy. The ones I already had the answers for. I jumped around and was all over the place filling things in until it was complete. I didn’t even know the actual name or legal structure I wanted to use at first.
Which brings me to the next tip:
Pick a Name and Structure
Sure you can publish under your actual name, but almost every source I read said that is not such a great idea. The main reason given is because some people won’t take you as serious. Nobody needs to know you are publishing your own works. Most of them also advised against using any type of business name that included your last name.
Ok, so we’re not using our personal or authored names, nor are we including any portion of those into our business name. We want to be taken seriously, as real publishers, publishing quality awesome works. So, how do we come up with that amazing name that says it all?
NO CLUE. Honestly, I was almost done writing the building block of my plan before I even decided to get to that point. I really just brainstormed, I included words and ideas that I thought would fit with my plan. I took a few of my favorites or top contenders and googled them, came up with variants and googled those.
After a couple days of back and forth between my few favorites, I went to my state’s business services page. (Every state is different, search your state and business services. In Illinois, it can also be accessed through the Secretary of State website.) I ran a business name search to see if the names I liked were already in use. Most importantly, I asked other people I like, what they thought and to pick their favorite out of mine.
I had been back and forth on the legal structure to use. Each one is different, and has it’s own set of pros and cons. Before you choose make sure you are fully aware of those pros and cons. If it is far to confusing or there is too much legalese, seek out the advice of a legal professional in the know. (The SBA is a good source for breaking it down into English.)
There are many online places that will allow you to enter data and they will fill out and create all the documents you need to set-up your new business. You don’t have to use them. They really aren’t that difficult, and some states have online forms and applications. I’ve filled out various types on my own over the years.
Now the fun stuff.
One of the most valuable and my most referred back to source of info is from Publishing For Profit, by Thomas Woll. This book helps to eliminate the need to create many different spreadsheets and schedules. He gives useable examples, explains what they are, why to use them and most importantly how to use them. There is also a ton of useful information outlined in this book. Just check out my photo, see all those sticky flags? Yeah, it’s that useful.
Aside from the actual creation of the to-be-published work, there are other things that need your attention. Design, production, distribution, marketing, sales and manufacturing. I’m not going into the details of any of that. That isn’t the purpose here. But I will say that each of these stages has various and multiple steps and tasks that will need to be worked out and scheduled.
I’ve created and printed out super large (11X17) monthly calendars. I prefer to keep different aspects of my business separate, so I create three of these for each month. One is for Infinite Reverie, two is my editorial calendar (includes freelance work) and three is a master calendar. At the end of each month, I get the next month set up. I start filling in the stuff I already know on one and two. Then transfer that info onto the master. Then I go back to one and two and create a plan that goes with the goals I created with the business and book plans.
I do this because it gives me the opportunity to be a little more detailed on one and two, yet still only have to refer to the master when scheduling in those things that tend to just come up. A lot of the time I need to be able to be a little more specific, otherwise I’ll look at it when the time comes and have absolutely no idea what I had intended. That is the real reason I need multiple ones- space to add remember what the heck this is notes.
Every weekend I usually take a few minutes to transfer the info from the monthly calendar to my daily planner. (I know I know it’s a lot of planning going on over here.) My daily also keeps track of personal stuff, house stuff, kid stuff and so on.
Ok, so now you have a few things you need to get doing. So get doing. Don’t forget to come back and visit. I will be blogging my progress as I continue to travel down the publishing road.
Got anything you’d like to add? What resources have you found that you’d like to share?