Entrepreneurs launching their first product don’t expect to make money immediately. They understand it takes time to develop an audience, grow brand awareness and fully develop their product. Spreadsheets are created to show how much time and money it will take before they start making money. In the early days, all the revenue is poured back into the business for expenses like marketing and product development. This formula facilitates further growth and is how successful companies are built.
Authors looking to build successful writing careers need to take a page from the entrepreneur’s handbook and think of their first book(s) as an investment in their future. Here are three business goals every author should have early in their career:
1) Create Reader Personas – From the moment you as a writer decide you want to publish your first manuscript and become an author, you should be researching, engaging and learning from your potential readers. As an artist, you have a story to tell. By all means, get that story written. As your own publisher, however, you have a business to run. That means figuring out who your audience is, where and how they discover and buy books, how much they typically spend on a book, what sex they are, how old they are, how often they buy new books, which authors they buy from repeatedly and why. Online research, talking directly to readers through social media and even surveys are great ways to gather this type of information. After assembling the facts, entrepreneurs often create personas for the types of people who are most likely to buy their product(s). Authors can follow this same process.
2) Grow A Supportive Audience – Once you’ve learned as much about your potential readers as you possibly can, it’s time to start growing your audience. An effective and affordable place to start growing your audience is social media. Share stories about your writing journey. Share samples of your book. Give more than you get. Growing your audience does not mean selling books. You’re in the building stage of your career. Don’t worry about how quickly your audience grows, rather learn how to find your tribe (in other words, your true supporters), forge relationships and build a strong community of writers and readers – these are skills that are foundational to a successful writing career.
3) Build An Author Brand – According to research by Peter Hildick-Smith of the Codex Group, readers are 15 times more likely to buy a book if they are a fan of the author. “Author brand equity is a book sales multiplier!” says Hildick-Smith. Of course, powerful brands are not built overnight. It takes careful consideration and coordination of messaging, imagery and consistent engagement to build a successful brand. This is when you want to invest in editing, book cover design, website development and social marketing tools that will help present a professional author brand to the world.