As I drove around town running errands yesterday, I noticed a couple of new businesses and began to wonder what motivates someone to open a wine store, a shop where they sell knitted items, a nursery, a coffee house, a hamburger joint, a children’s cotton clothing store or????? And what keeps such businesses going? Certainly, they don’t all make it. It’s common for small businesses to come and go here in our community. Why don’t they last?
I used to write a business column for the local newspaper and few of the businesses I featured lasted for more than a year. Why? Because so many proprietors started their businesses on a whim—they had a passion and wanted to turn it into something that would sustain them.
Few of them gave much thought to their location, their competition and their customers. They didn’t consider who their customers were and how to approach or attract them. Typically, the business owner comes up with an idea that appeals to him or her, chooses a setting they can afford and that is, perhaps, aesthetically suitable and they quickly open for business in hopes of selling lots of painted rocks, jewelry made from horsehair, used medical books, cardboard moving boxes or??? And some of these business owners either aren’t aware or don’t care that there is someone else up the block selling the same thing they are or that several other people tried these businesses and they failed.
I began to think about authorship. When you decide to write a book and publish it, you are going into business. From the moment you decide to publish your book, you should consider yourself the CEO of your book. But I hope you don’t go into business with blinders on like so many business owners tend to do. I hope that you will consider your readers before you start writing so that you know you are writing something a portion of society actually wants. You should know whether or not the market is already inundated with books like the one you have in mind. If you are writing in a popular genre, then this might be a good thing. People who read mysteries, for example, are always looking for another good one to read. You need to know how to reach your audience. Most authors do not realize that just because they produce a book doesn’t mean anyone will be poised to buy it.
It takes effort and time to put word about your book out there and then tons more effort, energy and time to get people to notice it and then oodles of creativity to get them to buy it.
This week, look around your town. Notice the small businesses that are thriving and compare them to those that are here today/gone tomorrow. Think about businesses that have left your area. Consider what these proprietors did wrong—what they did right. And then when you go back to your book project, whether you’re in the writing stages or you are already marketing it, examine what you are offering and to whom. Are you making good business decisions or are you letting your heart lead the way?
Stop looking at your book as an extension of yourself. You are the CEO of your book. It’s up to you to make sure—no wishful thinking here—make sure that your book is a good idea. If not, go back to the drawing board with it. Yes, give it a little tough love.
For guidance along the extremely competitive publishing path, be sure to order my book, “Publish Your Book.” It’s available at amazon.com and most other online and downtown bookstores.