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« How to Be a Story Master by Literary Agent Donald Maass | Main | Day Six: Creating a Writing Business Plan »

Celebration Day: Creating a Writing Business Plan

FREE!!!  Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer

This FREE 20-Page E-Book, a gift from Suzan Harden to you, includes all  7 articles + added content & resources.  This is a GREAT places to start for all Indie Authors.  --> Scroll down for coupon code.  

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From Tara, the Despicable Muse of Indie U

It’s the last day of our series with Suzan Harden, and it’s time to celebrate! We’ve covered quite a bit of ground over the past few days, and we’ve kicked Indie U off to a great start. So do a happy dance. It’s okay — we already know you’re as weird as we are.

If you’re just joining us, we’ll forgive you. On one condition: check out the articles you missed under our fabulous Indie U tab. And now to Suzan’s rockin’ post.

Retailers and Income

By Suzan Harden

Yep, we’re finally to the part we’ve all been waiting for . . . income projections.

Normally at this point in drafting a business plan, I’d have income projections based on similar businesses in the area. I’d also have an analysis of rivals in the same field and how I’d differentiate my business from those rivals. The expenses you’ve already listed plus your projected income becomes your profit/loss (P&L) statement for writing.

Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Do you know how the big publishing companies calculate their profits? THEY GUESS!

Yes, that’s right. They guess. Are you going to have to do the same?

Yes and no. Indie writers are a little freer about their numbers than traditional publishers. A good place to start is Victorine Lieske’s blog. Victorine breaks down the numbers for herself and 44 other indie writers.

The average I’ve been hearing from several independent authors is 10 copies of the first book in the first month the book is for sale. As you will see from Victorine’s blog post, some folks sold ZERO copies. Some folks sold a couple of hundred copies.

Another thing to consider is the price of your books. On that point, the indie community has a wide variety of opinion on the price point for the average 90,000-word novel.

  • John Locke sets his a $0.99.

  • Amanda Hocking sets the first book in a series at $0.99 and the rest at $2.99.

  • J.A. Konrath likes playing with his price points, but he’s firmly set that the price shouldn’t be above $2.99.

  • Dean Wesley Smith vehemently disagrees with Konrath and states $4.99 is a more reasonable price.

Indie publishers need to consider which retailers they use. Each retailer has a different royalty rate for different price points. For example, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble pay the writer 70 percent for books with a list price between $2.99 and $9.99. But, Barnes & Noble will pay 40 percent royalties for books $2.98 and under while Amazon pays 35 percent.

PLEASE NOTE: I use the rate differences as an example in calculating potential income. I STRONGLY advocate you place your product with as many legitimate retailers as possible to maximize your exposure to the buying public.

Subtract your estimated expenses from your estimated income for the first year’s estimated profit. You now have an official business plan. Don’t be alarmed if the number is negative. That’s not unusual for a new business. Normally, I would project income and expenses for the next three to five years, but at the rate the publishing industry in changing, that would be an exercise in futility.

Remember, your business plan is a fluid document. If circumstances change, then you need to roll with the changes and re-examine your business objectives and needs.

Indie publishing is not the instant riches touted by much of the media, but it can be a satisfying, lucrative career if you have patience. As Dean Wesley Smith says, you need to keep the “long tail” in mind. No longer do books need to be warehoused. Your books will literally be “on the virtual bookshelf forever.”

With that, I’ll leave with J.A. Konrath’s six steps for indie success:

  1. Good book

  2. Good cover

  3. Good format

  4. Good description

  5. Good price

  6. Good Luck!

If you have questions, leave them in the comments or feel free to e-mail me at


This entire blog series along with some extra resources will be available to you on Smashwords, including a PDF version that you can print. To get a free copy, enter the coupon code EW59P.

From Tara, the Despicable Muse of Indie U

Now for the really fun part! Suzan has agreed to give away a gift set that will include the following things:

  • The preloaded flash drive will have three of her titles (Seasons of Magick: Spring, Blood Magick, and Zombie Love) in the format of your choice.

  • Copies of Donald Maas’s Writing the Break-Out Novel and Bob Mayer’s Writing Warrior.

  • A 10.00 gift card to your choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

To enter to win this, you have to send me a copy of your business plan at the One winner will be drawn at random. If you want an extra chance to win, make sure you leave a comment on today’s post.

Finally, I want to thank Suzan for all her work on this topic. She did an amazing job! Be sure to show your support for this talented indie writer. Sign up to follow her blog, buy one (or all of her books) or spread the love with word-of-mouth marketing about how great she is. 

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