The Five Year Plan, Part II

[For previous entry, see The Five Year Plan, Part I] Yesterday, I introduced my need for a Five Year Plan, in the vein of Denise Grover's three-part business plan and Susan Kaye Quinn's longer-term strategy for managing your own independent publishing business. Go check out the previous post, linked to above, for the links to their articles.

Over the next two posts, I'll be talking about my own Five Year Plan and briefly discussing my goals, financial plans, production schedule, pricing philosophy, and long-term goals. Hopefully other authors can find this helpful, and if you have any suggestions, concerns, comments, please sound off below!

Here we go!


 

Goal

My goal is two-fold:

1)      Present the public with solid, high-quality reads in multiple genres, under the overarching umbrella of “speculative fiction” (this is, fiction built around a “what if” conceit). My first two novel-length works, CONVERGENCE, and its follow-up EMERGENCE, will both be character-driven, science fiction thrillers. They are in the vein of works by Barry Eisler and Lee Child, with a dash of William Gibson high-tech “tomorrow’s future” technology. Future works may include horror, high-tech political thrillers, and additional novels that expand upon the world-building established in CONVERGENCE and EMERGENCE (collectively known as the DRMR series).

2)      Whereas the first goal is entirely driven by creative forces, the second goal deals with financial success in the arena of indie publishing. I fully expect to operate at a loss on the first two novels, as I will be an unknown name not in only the larger scope of publishing, but within the smaller community of independent author-publishers. Sales-wise, my first-year goals are quite small, bordering on non-existent, but reflect an increase with the publication of subsequent novels over the next five years.

Year One – 2014               100 sales

Year Two – 2015               500 sales

Year Three – 2016            1000 sales

Year Four – 2017              2000 sales

Year Five – 2018               3000 sales

These sales goals are quite modest, and I am not expecting to make a substantial enough living on my independently published work to supplant the income of my full-time day job. However, they are also completely fluid - target goals may be reached ahead of time and allow for readjusted goals as necessary.

Products

  • CONVERGENCE (sci-fi/thriller) – published (Feb. 21, 2014)
  • CONSUMPTION (horror, short story) – expected release Fall 2014
  • EMERGENCE (sci-fi/action-thriller) – expected release 2015
  • MUCKRAKER (political-crime thriller/mystery/suspense) – 2016
  • Third DRMR novel or horror novel – 2017

Pricing Strategy

This pricing strategy is meant to reflect the consumer demand, willingness, and perception of eBook prices, particularly in the realm of indie author-publishing. EBooks are cheaper, quicker, and easier to produce. Current etailer platforms allow for 50-70% royalties at higher price points (typically, $2.99 or above).

I believe that $3.99 is a very reasonable price point for a novel-length work that has been professionally edited and formatted. By keeping the price below the $5 threshold, buyers may be likelier to impulse purchase, and perhaps even buy more work in a single sale (binge-purchasing) as my catalog/backlist grows.

Short stories or novellas will be priced cheaply, between $0.99 - $1.99, depending on page count or word length. Ideally, these short stories would help to act as a gateway to longer works and capitalize on impulse purchases for readers of both short stories and cheap reads.

Financial Plan

The plan is to release at least one novel per year. Accounting for current finances, this appears to be a realistic goal. As my backlist of available titles grows, I expect sales to increase in correlation to a widening fan-base.

The first year will operate in the red. The expenses for editing (content and line edits, as well as proofreading), design work, and formatting were around $1500. Priced at $3.99, with a 70% return in royalty earning, I would need to sell roughly 555 novels to break even. Given that I am a virtual unknown with zero name or brand recognition, I’ve set a goal of making 100 sales in 2014, which (based solely on eBook sales) would generate an income of only $270.

I am counting on a multiplier effect to take hold within two to three years, allowing me to break even on my expenses by the third year. Fourth year income should offset production costs entirely, and allow for a positive net income by fifth year sales.

For future novels, I expect to spend $1500 - $2000 in production costs, but will work to reduce cost wherever possible. However, editing and cover design should are premium expenditures and there should not be any corner-cutting in those areas of necessity. For shorter stories or novellas, if CONSUMPTION is any sort of benchmark, I can produce equivalent products for under $500, depending on cost of editing and proofreading. The use of high quality pre-made covers, should I be able to find one that is sufficiently in synch with the story itself, can also be relied upon and help diminish the cost required to but the book to market.


 

Tomorrow, I'll wrap up the discussion of my plan, so check back for part three in the a.m.

[UPDATE: Part III is live!]

Michael Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.


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