Monday, April 22, 2019

Authors, You’re In Business!

Remember, you’re a business entity.  You sell books, information, ideas, advice, and expertise.  As a business, adhere to some standards:

·         Keep accurate records
·         Create an advisory board
·         Protect your intellectual property -- use copyrights, trademarks and patents
·         Use written contracts and have an attorney review what you’re  about to sign
·         Make sure your contract avoids misunderstandings, identifies who does what by when, assures payment, avoids liability, and clearly states what is being agreed to

In Entrepreneurship:  Starting and Operating a Small Business, Second Edition, by Steve Mariotti and Caroline Glackin, several business plan software packages are identified.  These can help you focus on treating yourself as a business:

To learn more about the latest technology that can help your business efforts, consult:

Do You Need Some Market Research?
Big companies spend millions researching and analyzing the marketplace.  You can’t afford the time or money to do this.  But thanks to the Internet, you can find a lot of information about your potential customer.

You may not be able to conduct a phone survey of 1,000 people, but you can find out about the buying habits and needs of the American public online.  You can look into the habits of people based on geography, demographics, book reading patterns, etc.  A harder thing to do is to measure what’s still relevant is the behavioral or psychological patterns that people operate under.  Reading up on pop psychology may provide insight on how people tend to act or react under a given situation.  Even certain words can trigger emotional responses, so take that into your consideration when marketing to others.  A lot is common sense, but it helps to know more about the people you market to in order to get more yeses.

Keeping Track
Marketing, like life, gets filled with to-do lists and lots of random notes that need a home. How will you keep track of people, calendar events, things to check out, etc?  Many people are disorganized – scribbled notes on napkins, old emails stored somewhere, online calendars mixed with hand-written planners. We all try to create a system that works but we start to lose track, get lazy in maintaining it, or find ourselves simply to be our worst enemy. That said, don’t give up.

For marketing purposes, you will need to be organized about the following:
·         Keeping a list of your ideas
·         Listing web sites or people you want to check out
·         Your invoices and accounts receivable
·         Bills you need to pay
·         A marketing plan
·         A budget
·         A publicity plan
·         Daily to-do list
·         Calendar of appointments
·         Address book of key contacts
·         Setting deadlines
·         Reminder to follow-up or reach out to certain people – with notes on what was said and done
·         A place to keep resources that you uncover
·         A collection of articles and blogs that you plan to read
·         Notes for things you plan to blog about

The list can go on and on. You may do a lot of this on your phone or computer but rarely is everything neatly in one place. Just be sure to update the system that you create for yourself and print/copy/or back it up regularly. And know that you will never be perfect in this area, but learn to prioritize and be on top of the bread and butter things.

Also, Make Note Of These Rules For Managing Your Cash:
1.      Get paid upfront or collect payment as quickly as possible. Never assume what you invoice for will always get paid.  Every business has debt-collection problems.  Be prepared to get stiffed at least a few times a year.

2.      Always know your cash balance and keep track of planned receivables and of bills that are due.  Don’t get caught short or off guard simply because of poor record-keeping or overly optimistic assumptions.

3.      Delay, bill payment as long as possible – always stretch out the terms – but don’t alienate vendors or incur penalties in doing so.  Prioritize your bills and pay what’s most overdue first or pay what’s most important first.

4.      Seek to negotiate the best possible deal – on everything, all the time.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or to counter-offer when buying something.  Everything is negotiable and everyone in business knows this.

Keep Good Records Of Expenses And Income So You:
·         Can do your taxes with ease and avoid an audit
·         Keep track of cash flow
·         Analyze activity and review ROI
·         Will be able to examine which areas need attention.

Consult with an accountant as to which business structure you should operate under (sole proprietorship vs. LLC or S Corporation for example).  Obtain the proper documents or federal employer identification number for the business.  You may need to collect sales tax and pay it to the government, so look into whether you need to obtain a sales and use tax registration number.

What Will People Pay?
·         People will pay what they think it is worth.
·         They will pay what they are told to pay.
·         They pay what they can afford.
·         They pay for perceived value of your offer vs. perceived value of competing offers.
·         They will pay for comfort, security, piece of mind, ease.
·         They will pay for relief to a problem.
·         They will pay out of fear, guilt or pleasure.
·         They will pay because they don’t know any better.
·         They will pay to avoid a greater loss or payment later.
·         They will pay a premium if they like you, if they are attracted to you, if they think you like them and care about them and understand them.

You set your price and you can  choose to negotiate downward. It is up to you. Make sure you understand the value delivered by you, your book, your services, your brand. As long as you can articulate your value in a confident way you won’t have to shy away from or apologize for your price. By knowing your customer’s perception of competitive substitutes and alternatives you can get into their heads about how you compare.

Perhaps author Jeffrey J. Fox says it best in regards to price, in his book, How to Become a Marketing Superstar: “Price your products or selves according to the value the customer receives from the product. Do not price your product based on its production cost plus a markup. Do not price your product solely according to supply and demand. (Even the most basic commodities can be differentiated and priced to value. And gouging customers who need plywood during a hurricane may produce short-term profits but will long be remembered by the customer base). Do not automatically price your product to mirror competitive pricing. Do not price your product below cost.”

Here are a few more things to consider:
·         Put a dollar value on your time and keep increasing it.
·         Seek the quickest and easiest ways to get clients and customers.
·         Always look for cheaper ways to market yourself.
·         Sell your solution – the result of what people will get if they read your book or hire you as a speaker/consultant
·         Quantify and monetize that solution and all secondary benefits.

You are an author -- and a business! Take ownership of it.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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