There are a lot of different reasons to publish a book, and making money doesn’t have to be the top priority on the list. If all you want to do is have people read your story, there are ways to let them have access to it for free—and there’s nothing wrong with that decision.
However, if your goal is to have people read your work and to make money from it, then you’re going to have to start thinking about your writing as a business.
Ugh! Doesn’t the phrase “think about your writing as a business” sound super boring and slightly complicated? Where’s the romance? Where’s the fun and intrigue? Well, it should be in your writing, but when it comes to making and spending money for your books, that should be totally boring and straightforward.
Whether you want to keep track of your spending and earnings or whether you want someone else to do it for you, that’s totally up to you, but tracking the success of your business is something that has to be done. I don’t make mine complicated; I use Excel to record my spending and income. I can see at a glance how much I’ve made and how much I’ve spent.
It is important to keep track of your spending and earnings so you know if your writing is successful. It helps you keep track of how much you are investing in promotion/marketing and how much you are making from sales. The numbers can be skewed, and you might be spending more than you’re making, and that’s okay—as long as you’re okay with it. If not, having the numbers in front of you is a great way to change your marketing technique and develop new strategies that will hopefully lead to more sales.
I like to use my earnings and reinvest them into my marketing schemes, but I have to know how much I have to make it work. I don’t have a ton of extra money to spend on marketing for my books, so I use my numbers to create a budget and stretch my dollars as far as they’ll go.
Because I use this technique for marketing, if I don’t have money coming in, I can’t spend it on promotion. Then, I have to make business decisions about what is best for the funds I have and how I will get the most return on the money I can spend. I’ve had to give some things up with this process, but if the money isn’t there, I can’t make it magically appear.
It’s not easy deciding what to trim and what to keep. After all, just because one marketing idea didn’t work in the past doesn’t meant it won’t work in the future. Plus, what if making a business decision means getting rid of something you’re suppose to have, say, your newsletter.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any easy answers to these questions, and they are decisions you have to make based on your preferences and budget. You have to sit back and decide if said newsletter is bringing you any sales to justify paying the monthly fee. If it is, then you probably don’t want to cut it. If it’s not, there’s probably a better, cheaper way to connect with readers.
None of your decisions have to be forever decisions. If you discover down the road that yeah, the newsletter was totally bringing in sales, then add it back in to your marketing plan. If you find that Facebook ads actually make a huge impact on sales, then maybe it’s worth your time and money to invest in more of those. If they don’t, then you can probably cut them out. It’s trial and error when it comes to marketing, and only you can decide what is best for you, your books, and your budget.
It’s not a whole lot of fun to think about writing as a business, but it’s necessary if you want your marketing/promotion and your writing career to be successful—especially if you have a limited budget. The process doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’ll help you track your success.