Here is a preview of the revised Be A Pro: The Business Start-Up Guide for Publishers, by Terena Scott. Look for the official book launch celebration here during March, 2014.
Your resources are money, personal talents, equipment, knowledge, and expertise that will help you and your business thrive. It’s important to understand what resources you need for your business. All the talent in the world won’t support your business without cash. Cash won’t make up for talent. It takes a balance of resources for your business to thrive.
Before I became a publisher, I worked as a grant writer and program director for nonprofits. Much of my time was spent managing and evaluating programs to make sure they were viable and financially sound. So many wonderful programs and projects were rejected from the beginning because they didn’t start out with a clear understanding of what was needed to support the project. Or the programs slowly died because they didn’t have a strong enough structure to support the needs of the staff and clients.
Examining the gaps in available resources is a step organizations often skip, which is one of the reasons so many excellent programs shut down before they can really help anyone. Once the weak parts of a program are identified, the organization must determine the best way to address those weaknesses. Do they need additional funding for more training, to hire extra staff, or to contract with a translator? Can the administration keep up with the extra paperwork of a new program, or will they need extra support?
Once an organization identifies its needs, it must continue to regularly analyze its resources because things can change quickly: a staff member may leave, grants end, overhead costs increase. And occasionally circumstances occur beyond an organization’s ability to adapt. I once had to lay myself off and shut down the program I was managing when both of the program’s primary funders changed their grant focus at the same time, cutting us from their future funding plans.
To create a thriving publishing business, you need more than just a desire to publish a manuscript. And you need more than money. You must start with a thorough understanding of what you have and what you need to create your business. You must recognize when there is a gap between those two.
In this chapter, you will find several exercises to help you identify your resources.
It takes a lot of money to start a business, let alone launch a book, which is why the majority of start-up businesses, and many established companies, lack enough financial resources. Acquiring financing can be tricky, so you need to determine how you will finance your business before you begin.
- How much cash have you saved for your business?
- How much available credit do you have and how much can you reasonably use? (Credit is a loan. That means the money isn’t really yours; you have to pay it back. How much can you borrow and still make the payments?)
- Got any rich uncles, or friends, who’d like to invest? Can’t hurt to ask.
- What are the monthly expenses, like rent and utilities, you’ll still need to pay outside of your business?
- What is your monthly income, and can any of that be invested in your business?
Before you figure out a budget for your business, look at the financial resources you already have. Don’t worry right now about how much publishing a book costs, we’ll get into those details in Chapter 11. For now, look at your finances and understand how much you can realistically invest in your company. That will help you figure out how much you’ll need to borrow.
I started with $3,000 cash (my prior year’s tax refund) and another $2,000 in credit. However, I was lucky, because I have talented friends who were willing to donate their time to the press, saving me thousands of dollars. Talent can make up for weak finances, but not completely. Some things cost money, period, like printing for example. But your personal talents and those of your friends can make up for some of the costs connected with publishing.
In Chapter 1, we looked at the various jobs connected with book publishing, like design and editing. If you can do some of those jobs yourself, you’ll save money. Here’s one caveat to that idea, though: just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. It is very important to be bluntly honest with yourself while figuring out your resources. Don’t assume since you’re a good watercolor artist you can design a book cover. Do you know what elements make a good book cover, including one that will be viewed online — and I’m not talking about how pretty it might be. If not, then cover design is not a resource you possess. However, if you’ve done some graphic art with a computer and know how to use Adobe Photoshop well, you probably can design your own cover, but only after you do a lot of research into book cover design and book marketing.
Anything you already know is a resource. Everything else can become a resource once you identify where to get the help you need to fill those gaps.