Home » Books Blog » A Novel Planning Technique for Book Publishers

As businesspeople we recognize the importance of planning. As book publishers we understand the process of writing a book. What if you combine these concepts and write a plan as you would a book? It would have characters, plots, sub-plots, action and a climax. Here are the Top Ten Tips for a New Way to Plan.

  1. Traditional planning techniques are less relevant. They assume a static industry with little change from last year and little opportunity to grow.
  2. Publishers must compete by re-shaping their opportunities and expanding from their core business into unfamiliar territory, such as non-bookstore marketing.
  3. Write your plan as a manuscript, a narrative with a cast of characters (distributors, competitors, consumers, retailers, non-retail buyers), a plot (expanding from your core business) and sub-plots (negotiating large, non-returnable sales).
  4. Your narrative can help you focus on the causes of change (changes in consumers;’ reading and buying habits) as opposed to the symptoms (low profits).
  5. Your manuscript should describe roles (printers, distribution partners), interactions, definitions of value at each level and how opportunities are (or could be) linked.
  6. Create a structure narrative describing how different business units interact (operations, finance, production, marketing) and reinforce each other.
  7. Write a business narrative with three main elements: a) main characters (authors, distributors, retailers, buyers), b) the links between your opportunities and the actors and c) present and future sub plots (scenarios).
  8. Create different scenarios by changing the roles and interactions of your characters. For example, instead of selling books to corporate buyers, become a consultant to them, helping them solve their problems using your books.
  9. Consulting instead of selling can turn your backlist into a new revenue stream.
  10. Use your manuscript as a way to reinvent the architecture of your business rather than simply doing more of what you did last year, or doing the same things differently.


Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (formerly SPAN) and host of the APSS Book Selling University. He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books.