Do self-published writers need a business plan?

If self-publishing a book, do you need a business plan? The answer depends on your goals and objectives.

A business plan lays out your financial goals and a detailed action plan for achieving them. For the most part, a business plan is created to obtain a loan from a bank or other financial institution. Even if not seeking a loan, such a plan can be useful in guiding your strategy to grow a business.

Generally, creating a business plan is unnecessary for self-published writers, even then they establish their own “publishing company” that owns the ISBN to their books. Such businesses generally are a self-proprietorship, and any royalties coming to the author is considered personal income.

Given this, rather than a business plan, self-published writers ought to be more concerned about creating a simple budget to keep their publishing expenses (for editing, cover design, etc.) in check and about developing a marketing strategy for boosting their sales. Perhaps a timeline for writing and publishing books also would be helpful, though this has less to do with the business than with maintaining good writing habits.

A business plan becomes necessary when you publish enough books with large enough sales that you can quit your day job. By that point, you have a serious small business going, and the writing effort no longer can be viewed as just a hobby or a side job. In addition, a business plan is necessary if the writing leads to the creation of another business, such as consulting, speaking, editing writers’ books, designing book covers, or self-publishing titles the writer didn’t pen. In this case, though, the business plan is geared less for the self-publishing of your books than for the small business you’re running.