EPIC Opinion

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The Business of Publishing

The Business of Publishing

Whether you are contracted by a traditional publishing house (one of the big 5), a smaller indie publisher, use a publishing service, or are self-published, once you get past the creative writing process, publishing is a business. As with any business, you need a business plan. Your business plan details your business objective.

You might be saying, “My objective is to sell books.” That’s a start. Now expand on it. Sell books to whom? How many do you plan to sell and in what formats – print, digital, audio, or a combination thereof? Where do you plan to sell these books, and how long do you plan to sell them? Too many authors get into publishing without a carefully thought out plan. They write their book, throw it out there, and expect instant success.

When you think of publishing from a business standpoint, you quickly realize you need the following:


This is your book, written by you, of which you own the copyright. Make sure you own the rights to your book.

Business License

If you self-publish, you need a business license. Whether you choose a Sole Proprietor or LLC, having a business license helps separates your personal finances from your business finances and makes tax time a lot easier.

Financial Plan

Running a business has costs associated with it. How are you going to finance business expenses? This is something to consider now, before you begin your business.


Every author needs a brand. Your brand is what you want your consumer (the reader) to think of when they think of your product. Your brand represents you.


How many books will you produce and offer for sale a year? Remember, the Law of Supply and Demand applies to publishing as well. Put too many books on the market in too short a time period and you reduce the demand for your product. Too few books can either increase your demand or reduce the demand to nothing. It’s a balancing act.

Quality Control

This is the editing process. Your brand is associated with the quality of your product. A poorly edited product reflects poorly on your brand and can negatively impact your business reputation and customer sells.

Product Testing

These are your beta readers. Every author should have a few trusted people who read their manuscript and give honest, critical feedback. Beta readers help an author know whether what they meant to say in their writings is what is actually coming across to the reader. This is another level of quality control.

Target Audience

It’s all well and good to say you want to sell as many books as possible, but who is your target audience? Everyone is not a good answer and will make marketing your product extremely difficult.


You wrote the book and want people to purchase it. How are you going to let people know about it? This is your marketing plan. Despite what many authors believe, books don’t sell themselves.


This is your marketing outlet. Who is going to sell your book for you? Are you going to offer it on your website? Great, where else will you sell it? Never put all your eggs in one basket, no matter how attractive the sale’s terms appear to be. Make your book available at as many distributors as possible.

Price Structure

How much will you charge for your book? This should be based on the cost of production and like products in your market sector (same genre and page count). Price it too high and you’ll limit sales. Price it too low and you undervalue your product.

Profit Margin

How much of a profit do you need to make on each sale to recoup what you put into the cost of publishing your book?

In House

These are things you do yourself to cut down on production cost.


Things you pay others to do for you either because you don’t know how, or because they do it better and will increase the quality of your product. Shop around and get the best price.

Cost of Doing Business

No man is an island and this is especially true in the world of publishing. Every book should have an ISBN. There are taxes to be paid. Business licenses to purchase. Supplies to be used. All these have a cost associated with them.

Bottom Line

Your purpose in publishing is to make money by constantly increasing your customer base (your readership). How you go about it is up to you, but you should have a plan.

Zena Wynn is a published author of romance and the current president of EPIC. To read more about her, check out her website: www.zenawynn.com

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