Through my church, I have been taking a self-reliance class called “Starting and Growing Your Business.” It’s been an eye-opener to me. I am a fairly productive writer, able to write and publish one book a month on average over the past two years, but I admit I don’t have the best business process down. I joined the class halfway through the 12-class weekly series and have learned so much. Here are some of my takeaways from recent classes that I wish I had done early on in my author career.
10. Keep personal and business accounts separate. Open a business account from the get-go and register a DBA business name. Use separate credit cards so that when it comes time to do a report or track expenses for taxes, it’s clear what you’ve spent on your business.
9. Pay myself a salary. As an entrepreneur, it is tempting to simply set aside profit in your bank account to plow back into business expenses. Set aside a percentage as a salary (not just for necessities) for yourself and enjoy the fruit of your labors.
8. Decide on genres to write, short- and long-term. Do some soul-searching and choose genres that are fun for you right now and what you’d like to write in the future. Do some market research of genres that sell; hopefully what you’d like to write will intersect with what is to-market. If not, prioritize what is the most marketable genre and use the profits from that series to float you during the times when you pursue books that are more “for love” than “for money.”
7. Write in series with interconnected characters. When I started out, I wrote a series of books tied together loosely by trope and a little randomly. Nowadays, when I brainstorm a series, I figure out family members, secondary characters, occupations, romantic conflicts, tropes etc., so that by the time I am writing the first book, I know who the main characters are for the rest of the series, more or less. Until I write the books, I try to be flexible, because things easily change, but at least I am starting out with a map.
6. Make a monthly and annual budget. Rapid Releasing takes a lot of upfront costs for covers as well as editing. Make sure you can afford those regular expenses before you commit to a series. It’s okay to space out your releases further apart, say three months between, if it means you can control your cashflow better.
5. Write out story summaries ahead and nab inexpensive pre-made covers. This goes back to what I said earlier about series planning. If I had planned ahead, I could have nabbed some premade covers which could save me some money. How do you find out what’s a good deal? Shop around and browse through premade covers, comparing prices.
4. That said…Stop stockpiling covers for series that are not proven sellers (yet). I have 32 covers I have either commissioned or are from pre-mades that are sitting in my hard drive. And that’s not including covers I have made myself. So I am on a strict cover diet. Any new covers, if at all, will be related to series I want to focus on this next year.
3. Shop around for cover artists and editors. There’s a whole range of prices for these services out there. Test them out and don’t hesitate to pivot if you find someone who can deliver a great service while charging you less. I do try to stick to one editor and cover artist for a series so that they are familiar with my world. And some professionals are well worth their fees. But make sure your monthly expenses are sustainable. An affordable option is to pay for a professional beta. You get great feedback fast for a fraction of a content editor.
2. Record expenses and revenue regularly. I don’t have a great system down yet other than my check register and a handwritten list of revenue and expenses in a binder. But I am trying to use an automated process that will be easier for when I need to give my accountant my numbers come tax time. I have heard great things about the free Wave app so I signed up for it.
1. Jump into advertising. I LOVE rapid releasing. I absolutely love putting out books fast because I have so many stories in my head, but…it sure is nice to take a break once in a while and still have my backlist make me money. How? Through advertising. I took an FB course a year ago but never really did anything with it. I also have taken an Amazon class, with similar results. Then I started advertising on FB in November 2020. And I did not die. I should have started earlier, but…life. So I have some catching up to do. I did sign up for a different FB course this February, and this time, I am committed to running ads.
For other authors out there, do you have any to add? If so, feel free to do so in the comments.
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