For those of you not familiar with a S.W.O.T analysis, it is a way that business of all kinds step back and analyze their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. But what does that have to do with writing books?
Self-publishing, or even publishing with someone, is your business. For some artists “business” doesn’t sound like a very sexy word. Binding up creativity in protocols and policy doesn’t sound fun. But there is something to be gained from having a strategy and being aware of where you stand in the marketplace. Only then can you efficiently determine how to move forward to your greatest benefit. This is something big time publishers would help you with, but if you’re on your own…
If you already know about/how to perform a SWOT analysis you can skip down, but for those of you wanting a little more info, here is a quick “how to”.
A quick SWOT tutorial:
A S.W.O.T. analysis is easy enough to perform, all it takes is a sheet of paper and some self-aware honest introspection.
I usually go old school. There is something about sketching things out on pen and paper. But if you are all about spreadsheets, go for it. To each their own in that aspect. Whatever medium you choose.
I usually doodle my “S, W, O, T” down the page, leaving room enough to write next to/beneath each letter.
I usually come back to my strengths, I skip down to weaknesses first. I think about what I am not so good at, or resources I don’t possess.
I might as a first-time self-publishing author write
ex: I am an unknown author.
Unpacking that: I don’t have the following or reader base that a well-known author would. I am starting from scratch and don’t have as many fans out there waiting for my book to come out. My name has not yet become its own brand that people recognize and associate with great books.
Another weakness might be that I don’t have a large budget, I am confined to affordable options for my book….
Think through what all of your weaknesses are, and list them out.
This is NOT a time to get super down on yourself, this is mainly being realistic and setting you up for your next step!
What resources do you possess that you aren’t fully utilizing? Really think about what is available to you, whether it is connections/people you haven’t reached out to, friends with skills you could tap (cover art, or marketing advice, or budgeting tips, a social media wiz…), or maybe local business partnerships you could try to form.
An example of this might be:
ex: Camp kids.
I write YA fiction and I work with teens at church, and at camps. Those are a lot of potential readers I already have relationships with! I know I could do a better job of getting them excited about my book before it comes out! And BOOM! There are my waiting readers that the well-known author already has!
Another example may be:
ex: Conferences & Study
There’s a lot I still need to learn about this publishing process… But, there are so many conferences I can attend to attain knowledge I don’t already have! And there are great book resources I can study that come highly recommended by other self-pub authors! Whether it’s marketing, or writing, or publishing, there are conferences I can go to for a weekend to help me better understand the industry and how to approach publishing on my own.
What are you up against? What threatens your success?
As a first-time YA author, an easy example of this would be:
ex: Loads of competition.
The YA section at bookstores is huge! There is so much to choose from! Why should a reader choose my book?
Another one for a self-publishing author who still works a day job may be:
ex: Time deprivation.
Maybe we could market our book beautifully and everyone would want to buy it, but we simply don’t have time to create those ads… We don’t have time to engage with readers on social media or form business partnerships…
I like to end on a high note and encourage myself. So I like to go back and do Strengths last. What am I already doing well? What resources or connections do I already have?
Why Should Authors perform a SWOT analysis?
It helps you view your book publishing endeavor as the business that it is.
If you want to sell books and take money for them, it is a business.
You are putting a lot of time, money, and energy into creating your book/product, don’t half-ass the money making part of it! The business aspect of being an author is the deciding factor of whether this stays a hobby or becomes your career. You may write brilliant books, but unless people know about them, and are talked into buying them, you will never be able to quit your day job.
It helps you determine your potential.
Taking time to see what you can work on, and list the opportunities before you, can encourage you to act. Getting your thoughts organized, can help you establish a plan of action. Once you see that list written down in front of you, you can prioritize it, and move forward to build your brand, and give your book a better chance at success!
It can be really encouraging.
Taking time to list the things you are doing well, and the opportunities before you can empower you to believe more in yourself, and inspire that go-getter “I can do this!” attitude! All of a sudden this dream of yours starts to look incredibly realistic…
It prepares you for the down-sides.
If you take time to analyze the threats posed to you, you can look at your publishing future realistically. This can really help prevent future disappointments or mistakes. Nothing sucks as much as disillusionment. But if you already know how and where this journey isn’t going to be a cake walk, you can avoid the stunned hurt, or the shell shock, and skip to knowing what you’re going to do about it, while you keep enjoying the fun parts and the small victories that will help you get where you want to go!
So go ahead and take 10-15 minutes and brainstorm and jot down your findings. This could be a great foundation to build your overall game plan or your marketing strategy… When done right, a SWOT analysis is a game changer. This could be the start of everything!