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Writing a Business Plan

sample publishing company business plan

While it may be tempting to put off, creating a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. Plans and proposals should be put in a clear format making it easy for potential investors to understand. Because every company has a different goal and product or service to offer, there are business plan templates readily available to help you get on the right track. Many of these templates can be adapted for any company. In general, a business plan writing guide will recommend that the following sections be incorporated into your plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section that business plans open with, but is often the last section to actually be written as it’s the most difficult to write. The executive summary is a summary of the overall plan that highlights the key points and gives the reader an idea of what lies ahead in the document. It should include areas such as the business opportunity, target market, marketing and sales strategy, competition, the summary of the financial plan, staff members and a summary of how the plan will be implemented. This section needs to be extremely clear, concise and engaging as you don’t want the reader to push your hard work aside.

Company Description

The company description follows the executive summary and should cover all the details about the company itself. For example, if you are writing a business plan for an internet café, you would want to include the name of the company, where the café would be located, who the main team members involved are and why, how large the company is, who the target market for the internet cafe is, what type of business structure the café is, such as LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, what the internet café business mission and vision statements are, and what the business’s short-term objectives are.

Services and Products

This is the exciting part of the plan where you get to explain what new and improved services or products you are offering. On top of describing the product or service itself, include in the plan what is currently in the market in this area, what problems there are in this area and how your product is the solution. For example, in a business plan for a food truck, perhaps there are numerous other food trucks in the area, but they are all fast –food style and unhealthy so, you want to introduce fast food that serves only organic and fresh ingredients every day. This is where you can also list your price points and future products or services you anticipate.

Market Analysis

The market analysis section will take time to write and research as a lot of effort and research need to go into it. Here is where you have the opportunity to describe what trends are showing up, what the growth rate in this sector looks like, what the current size of this industry is and who your target audience is. A cleaning business plan, for example, may include how this sector has been growing by 10% every year due to an increase in large businesses being built in the city.

Organization and Management

Marketing and sales are the part of the business plan where you explain how you will attract and retain clients. How are you reaching your target customers and what incentives do you offer that will keep them coming back? For a dry cleaner business plan, perhaps if they refer customers, they will get 10% off their next visit. In addition, you may want to explain what needs to be done in order for the business to be profitable. This is a great way of showing that you are conscious about what clear steps need to be taken to make a business successful.

Financial Projections & Appendix

The financial business plan section can be a tricky one to write as it is based on projections. Usually what is included is the short-term projection, which is a year broken down by month and should include start-up permits, equipment, and licenses that are required. This is followed by a three-year projection broken down by year and many often write a five-year projection, but this does not need to be included in the business plan.

The appendix is the last section and contains all the supporting documents and/or required material. This often includes resumes of those involved in the company, letters of reference, product pictures and credit histories. Keep in mind that your business plan is always in development and should be adjusted regularly as your business grows and changes.


sample publishing company business plan

Your Guide to Writing a Business Plan

sample publishing company business plan

If you’re starting a new business, then you need an effective plan. Not only does this enable you to plan your company, but it also gives potential clients an insight into how your business works. A business plan is also vital if you want to attract investors or secure a loan from the bank. Drafting a business plan is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will ensure you create a definite plan to impress investors and clients. 

When creating your business plan, there are some essential elements you must include. The Executive Summary provides a description of your business, and what you hope to achieve. People usually write at least one page, but leave their Executive Summary until last.

You’ll also need to detail what your business offers and define your target audience. This makes it easier for people to see whether your company has a chance of succeeding. The opportunity section is also an excellent way for you to see what competitors offer and how you can create a USP to stand out from the competition. 

Appealing to Investors

Every business that wants growth and prosperity must ensure they promote themselves to potential investors. Business plans aren’t just about what the business is, but who is part of it too. Detail your current team members and explain what they bring to the company. Investors want to know they’re making a wise investment.

Your current finances and financial forecast are also essential aspects of your business plan. Look at your products, how much you’re selling them for and what kind of profit margin you expect to gain. It’s also vital you detail your outgoings and look at how various economic situations could affect your finances. 

Writing a Winning Executive Summary

There are problems in every market, and a successful business solves that problem. If you can show how you’ll be able to offer solutions in your business plan, you’ll appeal to investors. Choose your target audience based on research and ensure you show your research. There are many ways to conduct market research including defining SOMs, SAMs and TAMs. 

TAM stands for Total Available Market and comprises everyone you want your product to reach. Your Segmented Addressable Market (SAM) is a specific portion of the market you’ll target. This is important because it shows you’re able to direct your product at the right people and not just everyone. Your SOM (Share of the Market) is what you feel you’ll gain with your product.  

How to Determine Pricing

Pricing your product is one of the most challenging things you’ll have to do. There are many things to consider, such as how much it’s worth and making sure you don’t charge unrealistically. Many new businesses believe undercharging is the best way to go, but doing this can undermine your company’s authority and cause fewer people to be interested in investing.

Market-based pricing involves looking at your competitors and evaluating their prices. Which company has the most customers? How does their pricing match others? These are all vital aspects you should consider. Remember, customers expect quality and a fair price, so make sure you combine the two. 

Future Goals

Investors and banks want to know that you’ve considered what the future will hold for your company. When you write your business plan, be sure to take into account how you see the company growing, what you’ll do to ensure it thrives and that you understand the potential risks. Banks and investors want to know that you can build a business and are aware of the obstacles you’ll have to overcome.

Starting your own business doesn’t have to be difficult. If you ensure you produce a robust business plan, it can be an exciting process. Your business is part of your future, so start by outlining your goals and look forward to seeing results. 


sample publishing company business plan

Publishing Business Plans

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Every business benefits from smart business planning. Check out these sample business plans for magazine publishers, newsletter publishing, video television production, magazine journalists, music recording producers, theatrical music producers, and other publishing and production related business. Then use what you learn to write a business plan of your own.

If you’re looking to develop a more modern business plan, we recommend you try LivePlan . It contains the same templates and information you see here, but with additional guidance to help you develop the perfect plan.

sample publishing company business plan

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11+ Publisher Business Plan Templates

With the advent of the Internet, this business industry has grown with further progressions. However, running a business isn’t enough to make profit. You always require knowing the tweaks and tricks of running an effective business. For the beginners, simple business plan samples would help you to progress in this field with flying colors.

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118 Wilson Ct. Paramus, N.J. 12204

February 12, 1992

Infoguide Inc. is a reference publisher. This plan provides details on how it intends to utilize additional funding to purchase, market, and support the continued production of a title it will purchase from a larger publisher .


Present situation, product/service description, market analysis, competition, marketing strategy, pricing and profitability, selling tactics, assumptions: base case.

The Bakers Bread Guide, completed and first introduced in April 1991, is the only updated source of bread laws reporting instructions for every state, county, city, town and parish in the U.S.-some 4300 jurisdictions. It is an annual subscription service priced at over $500 per year. More than 200 grocery stores and bakeries already subscribe to the Guide: annual subscriptions are over $90,000 today.

Able Bakery Publications has agreed to sell the Guide to me for its balance sheet book value, about $131,000, because the Guide is not significant enough as a new product within their new business strategy.

Initial Financing

I have established a company, Infoguide, Inc., a New Jersey Corporation, which will be capitalized at $200,000, for the purpose of producing and marketing the Guide. The company will be owned 2/3 by me jointly with my wife and l/3 by my wife's mother. $75,000 will show as common stock; $125,000 will be a subordinated five-year balloon note.

This financing is adequate to meet the needs of the expected forecast for cash needs to operate and market the Guide successfully.

Five-Year Goal

Most of the purchase price will be allocated to 750 sets of the Guide which are held in inventory ready for distribution. The initial goal and total focus of the company will be to get these 750 sets into the hands of power users, the grocery stores and bakeries which do a national business.

At the anticipated sales rate of 240 sets per year, the 1000 subscriber level will be accomplished in 1996.

Once all 1000 sets originally printed are subscribed, annual sales will exceed $500,000 while production and fulfillment costs will be less than $200,000. In other words, the products will become a cash cow.

Excess cash will be invested in related products and services and/or acquisitions, leveraging the company into a position to sell out or go public.

Marketing/Sales Strategy

I have access to a number of lists of prospective subscribers, including continuing access to Guide clients under the acquisition agreement. The markets are very highly targetable: total penetration will be about 3000 sets worth almost $2 million in annual sales.

The most effective sales approach to the target markets is telephone sales. I have identified two successful salespeople to work as independent contractors selling the Guide to firms I will identify.

Additional Financing

I intend to obtain another $100,000 in term financing in order to sell the 1000 sets more quickly and to reduce production costs significantly.

The marketplace has a genuine need for the Bread Laws Guide as demonstrated by the fact that five of the top ten grocery stores in the U.S. are already subscribers. However, markets are still mostly untapped because the present owner of the service is unwilling to commit adequate resources to direct marketing.

I am poised now to get to the target markets with adequate resources and effective selling propositions.

Products and Services

At its present stage, the Bread Laws Guide is fully developed as an annual subscription print service. It is the only updated service of its kind. It was introduced initially in April 1991 with a quarterly update cycle. Since then, three updates have been completed.

Product Life Cycle

The current service is early in its life cycle, with total sales of 200 in a market estimated at 3000 potential users. There is little likelihood that the need for such a service will diminish because the bread statutes are law in all 50 states.

During the next few years, the objective of the company will be to increase the subscription level to 1000. At that point, sufficient funds will be available from operations to extend the product line to include ancillary services, such as online access, a call-in service, a newsletter, and Bread Laws forms sales.

Pricing and Profitability

Current prices may be too high at $595 per year for initial penetration marketing; this will be reviewed as soon as the Guide is acquired. There is significant leeway in pricing because of the economics of this type of annual subscription publication.

Profitability is, in a real sense, controllable because the most substantial cost is for marketing/sales rather than for production, fulfillment, and administration. At the targeted 1000 subscription level, in any event, the service is solidly profitable with positive cash flow.

Why Is Able Bakery Publications Selling?

First, the division responsible for the Guide was restructured in 1991 for many reasons, one of which was that many of the companies had become unprofitable. Second, the Guide produced an accounting loss of $137,000 in fiscal 1991 and was expected to show a loss of $50,000-100,000 in fiscal 1992.

The combination of these three factors led Able Bakery Publications to consider my purchase offer at their book value because it solved short term problems for them, that is,

Current customers are using the service daily in preparing their Bread Laws reportings. They are reportedly enthusiastic about the usefulness and quality of the service.

Management and Staffing

Management is in place. Initially, staffing will consist of family members and independent contractors who are familiar with the Bread Laws marketplace and services. Printing, storage and fulfillment are done under contract by Brown Printing, a major, quality printing firm in Rochester, N.Y. An independent direct response marketing firm may also be utilized if cost-effective.

Financial Resources

After acquisition and startup costs of $150,000, an additional $50,000 has been allocated initially to marketing/sales activities.

The current annual sales of $90,000 are adequate to cover most operational cash needs during the first year because operating costs will be kept to a minimum.

The primary objectives of Infoguide, Inc. are to:

Business Goals

Profits …Annual profits will approach initial investment by year five

Products …Focus on serving the Bread Laws market niche will be maintained

Customers …Company motto is "Love Thy Subscriber"

Quality …Products and services will set a standard for quality… "Gold Stripe" Service

People …After the initial investment phase, a professional organization will be built

Growth …Cash flow will be reinvested first into expanded market penetration and then into ancillary products/services

Compared to past performance of the Bread Laws Guide in its first year of publication (April 1991 -March 1992) under Able Bakery Publications, I intend to be both more creative in marketing and more aggressive in selling in order to penetrate the marketplace more effectively, as detailed below.

To understand the potential of the Bread Laws Guide, I looked at a sister publication service provided by Able Bakery Publications, called The Cookie Service. That publication sells for over $900 per year and has over 3000 subscribers. It is the only publication that provides an up-to-date compendium of cookie laws for all fifty states. Each year the price is raised and the renewal rate is over 90%. I estimate that its production and fulfillment costs are no more than $200 per subscriber per year.

Like The Cookie Service, the Bread Laws Guide is also unique in its niche.

One of the markets of the Bread Laws Guide is the same grocery stores that purchase The Cookie Service. Therefore the key to matching the success of The Cookie Service is to get the Bread Laws Guide into the hands of these firms: this is the key element of my marketing strategy. In addition, the costs of production and fulfillment will be less than those for The Cookie Service, making the breakeven point very low and marginal profits after that high.

Return on Investment/Financial Objectives

Based on a 31% market share for the Bread Laws Guide by 1996, I estimate the return on investment to be 83% in 1996 alone. In summary, here are the figures in thousands of dollars:

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

Position for Growth

The initial focus of the company will be on the core subscription service, concentrating on basic activities and priorities in sales, production, etc. with a goal of adding 240 subscriptions per year, for a total of 1000 by the end of 1996.

At that point, options of acquiring other related products, selling the company or going public can be considered.

Potential Products/Services

Once this growth pattern is realized, the company will expand beyond the core service. Various new product ideas are noted in this presentation.

The Bread Laws Reporting Guide (Bread Laws Guide for short) is the only comprehensive publication related to Bread Laws.

Physically it is a five volume loose leaf set containing approximately 6000 pages of text organized by state for each of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. The pages contain information as follows:

The set is presently updated quarterly based upon a questionnaire distributed to all the reporting jurisdictions and upon information gathered regarding new and revised legislation and regulations in each of the states. The first three updates were as follows:

Subscribers may order the entire set or individual states. Pricing is set so that a subscriber with a need for more than 5-6 states would order the entire set. A facsimile service is also offered: a client may call for a specific jurisdiction and receive a copy of the current Guide page immediately by facsimile.

Development of other ancillary products/services is in progress and future products/services are planned to be introduced as cash flow allows. The first of these will be a facsimile newsletter, which will be sent out whenever there is a significant change going into effect in any state.

Unique Selling Proposition

As noted, the Bread Laws Guide is not a look-alike directory so frequently produced by publishers. It is rather, the only frequently updated guide to Bread Laws reporting and the only one with specific information about the local (4200) reporting jurisdictions.

Proprietary Technology

The product is protected in the following ways:

The publication itself is copyrighted and carries an ISBN number. "Bread Laws Guide" and similar expressions will be trademarked at the federal level.

The information for the 4300 jurisdictions is maintained on a computer database that may be loaded to an online system for immediate access as a future product. The database presently makes communication with the jurisdictions inexpensive.

Pay Back Benefits

For most subscribers, the Bread Laws Guide will pay for itself in terms of cost and reject savings within a few months for the following reasons:

Useful Purpose

The Bread Laws Guide does not purport to be a legal text. There are other services and publications which fill this requirement. Rather, the Guide is for the professional who needs to do a reporting now and who understands the law itself. It is a practical working tool in other words.

Features Highlights

There is no other source of this up-to-date reporting information.

The Bread Laws Guide is extremely easy to use because:

The combination of quarterly updates with the planned newsletter keeps the publication current (and will keep the service before its audience in each firm continually). The nearest competitor issues an annual paperback that is out of date before it is published.

Economies of Scale

As sales ramp up, the profitability of this publication surges because of the characteristics of an annual subscription service, summarized as follows:

Product/Service Life Cycle

The Bread Laws were first enacted in the 1970's. They cover the sale, leasing, and financing of commercial bread manufacturing establishments. Each state has enacted its own version of the model act recommended by the American Bakers Association. Even the model act has been altered a few times over the years. Therefore major inconsistencies exist from state to state in the law and regulations, including reporting fees.

Most states have some form of local reporting, which requires reporting two forms, one at the state level and one at the local level. The local level also varies depending upon the state, and may be a town, city, county or parish.

Over the years, there has been continuing discussion of the possibility of federalizing the law, that is, centralizing all reportings at the federal level. This is as likely as the federalization of corporate law.

Planned Products/Services

The company plans to develop new products and enhance existing products. New products/services that are to be developed in the near future include a facsimile newsletter, paperback semiannual summary guides, and reporting services.

Concepts for follow-on (next generation) products or services include an online version of the service (on Lexis, Westlaw) and a CD-ROM version.

Just as important as my own vision of the future, I and my staff will be listening carefully to the subscribers in order to determine their future needs which the company can meet.

Key points in defining the market segment for the Bread Laws Guide are by service type, user type, and geographic location.

In the service type dimension, the service is unique. The only other publications are an annual paperback put out by Charlie Baker, the leading Bread Laws forms provider in the U.S., and a small, general booklet from Bread Reporting Services. The user type dimension is critical to targeting. The significant user types are as follows:

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

Geographic location is also considered a market dimension because of the obvious disparity in the size of states. Clearly New York and California are not only the largest states, but also are the baking centers where the national bakers are located. Therefore any marketing plan will focus especially on these two states.

Currently, the only market distribution information available is from: Charlie Baker, which reports that it has over 7,000 subscribers to its annual paperback; and Warren Gorham Lamont, which sells a number of Bread Laws related publications, has 30,000 names on its subscriber mailing list (which I will use for leads). These figures do confirm that the estimated market potential for the Bread Laws Guide (3000 subscribers) is within reason.

Of course, the current recession has seen the reduction in both grocery stores and bakeries, as well as greater difficulty in selling publications because of budget constraints. However, these short-term trends will not have that much impact on long-term potential for the Guide since the total market size is so large. The key to marketing is to get the Guide into the right user hands.

The Bread Laws Guide has several distinct advantages over the potential competition, of which the top six are listed here.

There are two distinct handicaps inherent in the product today, which I will focus on remedying as noted below.


The upside potential for the Bread Laws Guide within these target markets over the next five years may well be greater than the 1000 sets forecast based upon the money allocated to marketing under the conditions introduced in the Present Situation and Strengths/Weaknesses analysis.

In addition to the product extensions discussed elsewhere in this presentation, an altogether new application for this type of product/service would be tapping environmental related markets. Since this field is so new, the kinds of procedures that have been standardized over 20 years for the Bread Laws are hardly in place for searching or reporting environmental-related records. I am working on a "Bible" on how to deal with environmental agencies around the U.S. (state and federal) to assist the same markets the Guide is sold in now.

Further opportunity for product extensions depend upon generating funds from the Guide itself.

Still another possibility for development involves Bread Laws reporting and search services. However, this direction would involve a commitment to compete with Able Bakery Publications, which I hesitate to do for a number of compelling business reasons.

Direct Competition

The only complementary products/service already in use by these customers is the Charlie Baker Guide, a paperback which is published once a year around December at a price of $15.95. It goes out of date very quickly and only includes state level information.

Other publications that contain general Bread Laws information include:

The latter publication is for the legal researcher, whereas the Bread Laws Guide is for the person who actually has to report under the law.

As noted, the print competition is not in the same category as the Bread Laws Guide because the Guide is in fact unique.

The question for the future is whether anyone will decide to enter the market with a comparable product. On the one hand, a prospective competitor could use the Bread Laws Guide to get a head start on its data collection. On the other, it is unlikely that another publisher will chance such an entry when the niche is so small. For comparison, The Cookie Service on Able Bakery Publications and the NBI Bread Laws Law Service have no competitors.

See the marketing plan for information about how I intend to keep any competition out of the market.

Indirect Competition

A source of indirect competition must be considered: service companies that prepare reportings for attorneys and bakeries. As already explained, hundreds of these companies are located in state capitals around the country. Although most are primarily local to their own state, many also do a significant national business. Since these companies will purchase the Guide themselves to handle their own clients, those same clients may not need the Guide.

The impact of this competition is not anticipated to be all that great because 90% of Bread Laws reportings are traditionally prepared by the institution or its attorneys.

This table shows how I evaluate the risks involved in the development of the Guide today. It allows a comparison of exposure, given various assumptions.

I have weighted each element according to its importance to the success of the Guide and listed them in descending order.

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

Maturity In this initial stage, gaining subscriber confidence is critical. Therefore, both weight and risk factor must be considered high.

Strategy Effective product/service, price distribution, promotion strategies are critical. Therefore strategy is highly weighted. Risk is only medium because I am able to take advantage of lessons learned over the past year.

Competitive Position The market is wide open with few competitors today.

Industry: Company must stay competitive as business matures. Company must keep out any direct competitors. Risk is low because good products/services have loyal long term fallowings in these markets.

Management Careful planning, clear objectives and experienced leadership are in place.

Past Performance Medium risk because results to date could have been better except that resources were not applied.

Economy The economy must be considered because the current recession has significantly slowed service company sales and Bread Laws reportings, and represents some risk. However, capitalization of the company will take it through this period and the company is prepared with its inventory to take advantage of the next upswing in the economy.

These risks clearly point to the need for focus in the marketing plan to place the Guide in as many potential subscriber offices as possible as soon as possible. This strategy is the key to addressing almost all the risks, as discussed below.

The marketing strategy of the company may be summarized in two statements:

Comprehensive Plan

The overall marketing plan for the Bread Laws Guide is based on the following fundamentals:

To prove the value of The Guide, the marketing strategy will focus on benefits of use, including efficiency improvements, cost savings, and elimination of rejects. This can be done not only by the typical brochures, cover letters and telesales scripts, but through personal professional contacts I have developed, references by satisfied subscribers, etc.

Product Strategy

The Bread Laws Guide will be treated as a long-lived product/service, which will be improved only in small ways beyond the basic service concept. No frills are needed to sell successfully, as long as a basic focus on top grocery stores and financial institutions is maintained.


Because of the special characteristics of these markets, the strategy must incorporate a strong message that the Bread Laws Guide and its publisher are the experts in the field.

This position will be enforced through the ancillary products/services, such as the facsimile newsletter for instant updates on significant changes as well as through a continuing dialogue with the top people in the field.

The Guide is seen in this light by many of the current subscribers, but more promotion is obviously needed to get the publication into the minds of the entire target markets.

Its unique characteristics can be exploited to arrive at a winning position in the consumer's mind. In terms of market segmentation advantages, I will use the satisfied subscribers more effectively.

"Love Thy Subscriber"

Since the long-term success of the Guide depends upon renewals, annual, constant, effective, and positive contact with subscribers must be maintained. Most publishers do not seem to recognize who the actual subscribers are; they are not just the person or department that pays for the service.

I define a subscriber as anyone who uses the Guide. Therefore, contact must be established with paralegals who use copies in their libraries and documentation specialists in bakeries who prepare Bread Laws reportings. One account may have dozens of users.

They will be identified through telephone surveys, questionnaires and the like, and will then be kept informed about the Guide.

"Gold Stripe" Service

In order to produce a consistent identity, I will introduce "Gold Stripe" Service to the subscribers. It will include the following features, plus others to be added in the future in order to maintain the highest possible renewal rate:

The name "Gold Stripe" has been chosen for a very specific reason. After the acquisition, the Guide is not allowed to continue to use the name Able Bakery Publications, leaving me with 6000 binders costing $6.00 each, which has already been embossed on its spine with the name Able Bakery Publications. Not wishing to throw away $36,000, I came up with the idea of obtaining a high quality, gold-leaf or brass overlay that can be firmly glued over the Able Bakery Publications name: thus, "Gold Stripe" becomes the logo of the company.

Critical Mass

The concept of critical mass is important to understanding the selling tactics which will be utilized initially (Stage One) and how these tactics will change over time (Stage Two). Stage One tactics are discussed in the Selling Tactics Section, and Stage Two is discussed in the Advertising Section.

A product/service has reached critical mass when it has gained enough market penetration to become a sort of household word in its industry. In other words, once critical mass in a market is reached, a significant percentage of sales will come from more indirect marketing, and tactics such as advertising and public relations make sense to keep the product name before the customers. Before critical mass is reached, however, such indirect marketing is a waste of money because there is little name recognition to start with in the market.

Therefore, the Stage One sales plan will be focused on obtaining critical mass status for the Bread Laws Guide. This will be accomplished by directing all marketing resources into the telesales channel with a goal of placing the first 1000 sets of the Guide in the top 500 grocery stores, bakeries, etc. I estimate that the Guide will reach its critical mass once these 1000 sets are in place, at which time the marketing strategy will be adjusted to Stage Two.

Based on this strategic plan, I am presently pursuing the following tasks:

The prices for the products/services are determined first and foremost by value to the subscribers. Since pricing is not constrained by direct competitive pressures, the approach taken is to test various levels of prices, volume discounts, for cash, package deals, etc. in order to find the best price-volume mix in each market.

Experience so far confirms that the current pricing is not excessively high, but further testing is needed to determine whether lower prices can expand demand (Is there any price elasticity?). Testing will be done continuously as part of the direct response and telemarketing programs.

The other annual subscription services mentioned in this planare priced for $665 to $900 per year, and the only Bread Laws-related newsletter is priced at $395 per year. The Bread Laws Guide retail price of $595 per year again appears to be in the right range from these comparatives.

I feel that customers will pay in the $400-700 per year based upon the perceived values discussed in the Description Section (Payback) and in the Strategy Section. To reiterate, potential subscribers must be convinced of these values through the correct marketing strategy.

The current price structure appears in the Exhibits. The volume discounts, which previously applied only if the purchase order came from one place in a company, will now be extended to all locations from one company, even under separate purchase orders.

Also, the Bread Laws Guide can be examined and returned for full credit within 30 days of receipt if the customer is not 100% satisfied. Experience so far indicates less than a 10% return rate.

Margin Structure and Long-Term Economics

Profitability in the long run is not so much a function of the initial price cost relationship as of the number of years a customer renews the subscription. Consider the following:

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

The lesson of this example is that lower cost (or for that matter, higher initial price) does not equal more profits in the annual subscription business. If as a result of costs being twice as high subscribers renew for 5 years versus one year, profits are significantly higher and they get even better in 10 years. Thus, as the marketing strategy explains, the Bread Laws Guide philosophy will be "Love Thy Subscriber," and significant resources are allocated to obtain and maintain each subscriber.

This analysis does not mean that I am cavalier about costs: just the opposite, in fact. Non-marketing expenses, including personnel, printing and other costs will be watched severely so that maximum resources can be committed on a continuing basis to obtain new subscribers and keep existing ones.

The costs and expenses, as detailed in the financials, are as follows per subscription per year:

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

Experience to date has indicated that the cost of obtaining a new subscriber is relatively high ($200) because of price and market characteristics. Although I will be examining ways to increase the efficacy of each marketing dollar, I feel it is only fair to use this figure in the forecasts. Any productivity improvements will only improve results further.

Initially, therefore, I plan to lose $99 on each new subscriber the first year based upon an average net sales yield perset of $500, and to earn $86 on each renewal subscription.

The wisdom of this approach becomes clear over time: while new subscriptions will continue to cost more to obtain than renewals, costs will decrease significantly as the subscriber base rises, leading to 60% margins ($300 profit on $500 sale) on renewal business by 1996.

It should be noted that the 6% delivery charge is inherently very profitable ($300 of sales versus $6 for postage).

All estimates are based upon experience to date. For example, the $500 average sales price was determined from the sales of the first 200 sets, some at full price of $595, some at the introductory price of $545 and some at multiples of $75 for individual states. The reason the average of $415 on the sales worksheet for 1991 is lower than the forecast is that 30 sets were given to Able Bakery Publications offices at $215 per set. Per the acquisition agreement, Able Bakery Publications will pay over $400 per set starting in 1992.

Discounts will continue to be offered to subscribers as an inducement for:

Three selling approaches have been used by Able Bakery publications, with mixed results:

Direct Mail

Over 25,000 pieces have been sent out, resulting in about 60 sales. At a cost of $1.00 per piece, this approach has cost over $400 per subscription. However, the best of mailings, from the Warren Gorham Lamont list, showed a .5% sale rate, for a cost per subscription of $200.

The 20 Able Bakery Publications telesales people "mention" the Guide in their presentations to Bread Laws search prospects and clients as part of their overall sales pitch. Very few sales arise from this source.

Outside Sales

The 20 outside sales people were instructed each to sell 5 sets in the July-august period of 1991. Actual sales achieved were about 3 per person, which accounts for the sales bulge in those shown on the sales worksheet. Since that time there has been little focus on this product and fewer than 5 sales per month come from this source.

The remainder of sales to date come from word of mouth and from calls to other service companies.

A little advertising was done and a public relations piece was put out, both with little effect. Some complimentary sets were sent to important figures in the American Bakers Association and other recognized national Bread Laws experts, but recently these people were insulted by being asked to pay for updates.

None of these approaches have yielded satisfactory results as far as I am concerned.

Stage One Planned Sales Method: New Subscribers

These experiences lead to the conclusion that a more focused sales approach is necessary in order to grow sales at a faster rate and/or at a lower unit cost, as follows:

The following sections discuss each of these steps in more detail.

Many specific sources of Bread Laws reporting firms are available to me, including,

All these lists are just raw material, of course. I have developed logic and programs to match and combine these lists for use by the telephone sales people.

The resulting combined file will contain multiple individual names and multiple locations for each significant national grocery store chain.

Telephone Scripts

The combined lists will provide more than one access to each targeted subscriber, which in turn will allow multiple scripting for different kinds of contacts, such as:

In other words, the telephone will be used for initial contact with an objective of identifying the people in each firm with the greatest need for the Guide. When these people are identified, they will be approached with a specific script focusing on the benefits of the Guide:

The close of this call will usually be to send the prospect more information (the sales material) about the Guide, or even better, to get a commitment to try the Guide on a trial basis.

The follow-up call will review the material and ask for the order.

Of course, if this particular prospect does not agree to purchase, the sales person will call another user in the firm. There is always another user in each firm who will listen.

Once a trial is assured, the telesales person will ask for the names of other users in the firm and will notify them that the Guide is available. The more people who use the Guide, the easier it will be to keep it in the firm year after year.

Sales Materials

Sales material is designed specifically to support the telephone sale, that is, to address the questions of the user and to help convince that person to find it in the budget to purchase the Guide.

Materials will include:

Experienced Sales People

Some of the sales people who worked for me on past projects are now available to work for the Guide as independent contractors, and I will contract with two of them, one in the East and one in the West. They have the following characteristics in common:

In other words, I am assembling a mature sales force whom I am confident will achieve my sales goals of 240 sets per year.

Compensation will consist of commissions based upon paid sales with additional incentives for achieving sales over my targets. The company will pay for all sales materials, telephone calls, mailing lists and travel expenses.

These people will also be the feedback loop between the product and the customer. They continually ask for suggestions and improvement ideas as well as addressing any complaints. In fact, these sales people will be fully empowered to address any subscriber need, including flexibility to price the Guide creatively in order to get the order and to maintain the renewal subscription.

Low Cost Ideas - No Frills

As discussed in the Marketing Strategy Section, advertising and other forms of indirect or pull marketing do little good for a product such as the Guide that has not reached critical mass in its market penetration. Therefore, these costly frills will be avoided until Stage Two.

I will, however, implement two indirect sales plans that will cost the company virtually nothing and which will produce an extra 30-100 subscription sales per year, as follows:

Support Line

The Guide will, as part of the acquisition package keep in place its distinct 800 number: 800-4-BREAD. This number is used by subscribers to place orders, to ask for information including the fax order service, and to contact the Guide for any other reason. It is also used by jurisdictions to let the Guide know about impending changes in regulations, procedures, etc.

The number will ring in the Paramus headquarters, and any messages for the sales people will be forwarded to them by voice mail. The phone will be answered in person from 8-5 Eastern time.


The Guide has been in production since April 1991. As noted above, it has already gone through three update cycles. At present this cycle is quarterly. Updates are based upon information from the following sources:

As information arrives, it is entered immediately into the jurisdiction database so that the most current information will be available for call-in customers (and later for immediate updating of an online database). Then, once a quarter, the altered pages are printed and distributed by Brown Printing.

I contemplate three significant improvements in this process:


Brown Printing not only prints the Guide and its updates, it also inventories sets; fulfills orders for new sets; packages and delivers updates; and updates the sets in inventory. The company will continue to use Brown for fulfillment services because they have a fine reputation for service, accuracy and timeliness.

I will make only two changes to the fulfillment process:

The base case is what I consider the most likely scenario for sales, costs, and growth. The next section examines worst and best cases as well.

Inflation is not considered in the forecasts and estimates because prices for this kind of subscription service typically can be raised to offset cost increases.

The column entitle "Factor" on some of the worksheets contains cost per unit or growth factors used in the forecasts.

The sales forecast is based upon experience to date. 1992 sales are for 10 months, on the assumption of a March 1 purchase date.

Note that sales tax will only be charged in New Jersey because the new company has no other locations.

Cost of Sales

New sets include 5 binders at $6 each. 6000 pages of test, tabs and the like. 750 sets were purchased as part of the acquisition.

Update costs are computed at 2400 pages per year per set at $.04 per page.

Production/Editorial Expense

Management fees, such as a salary for me, are not included in the estimates, as my compensation will depend upon results and available cash flow.

Editor fee is estimated based upon prior results.

Postage is for new sets and update delivery, newsletters and faxes.

Telephone is for administrative and jurisdiction calls.

Jurisdiction mail is estimated at 4300 pieces of mail four times a year at $.75 per letter, including return postage.

Production coordinator is a part-time position that will be contracted out.

Subscriptions and supplies are needed for research and general operations.

Amortization of startup expenses is taken over three years.

Interest is calculated at 6% on the subordinated debt of $125,000.

Royalties at 6% of sales are due to Able Bakery Publications as part of the acquisition agreement.

Marketing/Sales Expense

Mailing list costs are primarily for the Warren Gorham Lamont list.

Brochures include the cost of about 20,000 direct mail pieces utilized by the telephone sales people at $.80 per set of sales materials.

Postage includes direct mail and delivery of new sets and updates.

Telephone is estimated at 80 calls per day/$1.00 per call.

Commissions are estimated at $100 per new subscription sold.

Cash Flow Projection

See balance sheet assumptions for most cash flow items.

Cost of sales for new sets is not a cash expense because of the 750 sets purchased in the acquisition, until 1995 when the present inventory has been depleted. At that time, 500 more full sets (New Inventory) will be printed and packaged at a cost of $150 per set.

Note that withdrawals for management fees and to pay taxes on earnings by stockholders (subchapter S corporation) are not included in this presentation.

The initial stockholder investment of $200,000 is allocated as follows:

Balance Sheet Detail

Receivables are estimated at 60 days sales outstanding.

No fixed assets are shown because the computer equipment obtained in the acquisition is expensed. No other capital assets are required to operate the business.

To be conservative, no payables are assumed.


Publisher: Infoguide Inc.


Best case: schedules.

A term loan of $100,000 is added to the balance sheet to be used as follows:

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

As a result of the increased investment in sales, the number of new sets sold is doubled to 40 per month, and the cost of updates is decreased by utilizing advanced computer methods.

By 1996, sales will rise to $799,000 because of the compounding effect of renewal sales, 77% more than base case sales of $452,000.

Expenses reflect both the interest on the term debt and the depreciation over 5 years of the computer equipment.

Although cash flow appears to be less advantageous than the base case, in fact this is only due to the continued discretionary increased marketing/sales expenditure levels. Profits before these discretionary expenses in 1996 are $414,000 vs $239,000 in the basecase. In other words, the company has a lot more to spend on future growth because of the additional impetus provided by the term loan funds.

Worst Case: Schedules

The worst case scenario continues expense projections at the base case rate while sales decrease to only 10 sets per month, or half the base case rate.

It is significant to note that even without a cutback in market/sales expenses, a cash shortfall of only $5500 is generated. Renewal sales still put the company into positive cash flow over the 5 year period.

Best Case Cash Flow Projection (1992-1996)

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

Worst Case Cash Flow Projection (1992-1996)

Publisher: Infoguide Inc.

Other articles you might like:

User contributions:, comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:.

Jamie McGarry

Jan 2, 2018

A One-Page Business Plan for a One-Person Publishing Company

Or, how you can make £24k a year from small press publishing, ethically and sensibly, with minimal headaches and a 20-hour working week. No, really.

T hough it’s been a few years since I ran Valley Press entirely on my own, for some reason I find myself coming back to the ‘solo publishing’ scenario again and again; this article being no exception. The plan below doesn’t have any new research or ideas — it’s simply another way of explaining what I’ve been going on about since I first started writing about this topic. Feel free to tweak any of the numbers to suit your particular circumstances.

For me, figuring out business models is like doing the crossword, or a Sudoku; except in addition to some healthy mental exercise, I get the fun of sharing (and vigorously debating) my answers on the internet, with people like you. So thanks for clicking, and please do write a reply if you have any questions.

This plan is for someone working as a self-employed publisher four hours a day , five days a week , 48 weeks a year , with a target annual salary of £24,000 . That’s £25 an hour, but you’ll need to earn a little more to cover company overheads; let’s say those are £1920, £160 a month for travel, stationery, postage, maybe renting a desk somewhere. So you’ll actually need to earn £25,920 from your publishing activities, or £27 an hour .

Here’s how you’ll fill those hours:

That’s it: rinse and repeat, spend two weeks on each book, and aim for 24 new titles a year . Each of those needs to cover your £27 an hour across eight days (Mondays are sorted, remember), which is £864 .

You can rely on a well-designed and promoted book to sell 200 copies fairly swiftly, so to cover the £864 we want to be making a clear £4.32 each time one of those copies is sold. You’ll also need to consider costs to print at least 220 copies (some ‘frees’ are essential), fees for any freelance editors (or your own editing time), plus other expenses accrued in production.

Then, to set your RRP for each title, add up the print costs, editor’s fees and other expenses and divide that number by 200 (which gives you your general expenses per copy ). Then add the author’s royalty per copy, and the £4.32 to give you your essential income per copy sold — then double that figure and round up to get the RRP. This allows you to offer up to a 50% discount when selling the books, whilst still breaking even every time, which is helpful if you’re going to distribute through modern channels.

An example of this formula at work: I print a short book for £1 a copy, £220, which I paid an editor £200 to work on, and an illustrator £50 for some cover art. That adds up to £470 , so my general expenses per copy are £2.35 . I pay the author 50p per copy sold, so with the £4.32 my essential income per sale is £7.17 . The RRP for this book should therefore be above £14.34 (so £14.99, if you like 99s, or £14.50 if not).

If that example RRP sounds high, remember no-one need ever actually pay that ; when selling direct you can happily charge just above the 50% (so perhaps £8 in the example). If a trade buyer takes 50% but doesn’t offer a big discount to their customers, that’s their problem; people who want the book will come to you instead and buy direct. If those direct orders get overwhelming, you could reduce your discount a little and pay a distributor (or some grateful intern) to do the honours.

For reprints, you should print to demand (short run or POD) if you want to stay in control of your outgoings, and not end up with a house filled with boxes of books. Treat any sales above the 200 as a bonus, saving that money for harder times or investing it back into the business; you’ll then have the option of growing the company, if you want to. The sky’s the limit.

So that’s the plan — what did you think? I should add, if you are lucky enough not to need a salary of £24k, you could reduce your overheads considerably, which would also reduce the RRPs, and the whole thing could be just a little more pleasant. I’d love to hear your own versions of the above, or indeed any questions, queries or complaints; there should be a reply button below. Otherwise, see you next time!

Update: after seeing your reactions to this post, I realised a detailed follow-up piece was called for; you can find that here .

More from Jamie McGarry

Consultant in independent publishing, founder of Valley Press. Based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK.

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The Publishing Business Plan ; 7 Essential Elements

sample publishing company business plan

If you are like most aspiring authors, the idea of becoming a published author probably excites you. Even if you are planning to produce an ebook to boost your business, adding “author” to your credentials could represent the fulfillment of a dream you’ve had your whole life or might catapult you into the ranks of the other authorities and thought leaders in your industry.

It’s important to realize that you are not just becoming an author. You are also becoming a publisher. And with that new title comes a new start-up business.

Author vs. Entrepreneur

If you are like most aspiring authors, you may just want to write. You may have no desire to become an entrepreneur. Most writers don’t realize that when they decide to self-publish their work they are making a decision to go into business.

In fact, when you choose to self-publish a book—any type of book— you go into business for yourself. You actually become a publisher and open a publishing company.

You go into the business of writing, producing, and publishing your own books. To a certain extent, you also are responsible for distributing those books, or for finding a way to do so.

If you are writing ebooks to support your existing business, you now have a new business venture to support. As with any other business, it takes time, effort…and money.

How to Create a Business Plan for Your Indie Publishing Company

Besides your good, marketable ebook ideas, you need a variety of things to get your publishing business up and running. First, you need a business plan.

Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you a plan is necessary to start a company.

A book proposal serves as a great template for such a plan since initially you are creating a plan that revolves around one book. You don’t need to traditionally publish to use it as your business plan; a book proposal serves as an excellent business plan for an indie publisher as well.

This template can be expanded to serve as a business plan for your whole publishing company. I write about this extensively in my new book, The Author Training Manual .

A book proposal is used to prove to a publisher the marketability of a book idea. You want to prove to yourself , since you are the publisher, that your book idea is viable—that it will sell and make you money. And you want to make sure it will enhance, not detract from, your current business.

Seven Essential Publishing Business Plan Elements

There are seven essential elements that should be in every publishing entrepreneur’s business plan:

Before you begin any business, or any project, be sure you can afford it. For example, aspiring authors are often shocked at the cost of editing a manuscript, which can prove much more costly than design. Determine what resources you need to complete your book. At the minimum, these can include:

It’s extremely difficult to achieve success if you haven’t defined it. The publishing industry defines success in terms of book sales, and as a publisher, sales must become part of your definition. Must you sell 500, 1000 or even more copies per year to earn back your investment and start making money?

A “break-even analysis” will help you determine this. This entails knowing what it cost to produce your book. Beyond this, how much money do you want to make?

Most companies have monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual goals to meet. This helps them continuously move toward their vision of success—their long-term goal. As the publisher, it’s up to you to create the goals for your company.

Be sure you create a sound promotion plan for your book. Promotion helps sell books, so this is an important aspect of the book publishing business.

To keep track of how your company fares financially, you need a profit and loss statement. This allows you to determine if your start up is getting out of the red and into the black. You need to know if your company is actually making money—or if you are losing it. If you publish more than one book, you’ll need to track each.

Create a list of contractors you will use to help you run your business—editors, designers, virtual assistants, accountants, etc. Then make a list of the licenses you will need, such as to set up your business in the county where you live, with the tax office, etc.

Then make a list of additional business-related things you need to do, such as set up bank accounts and possibly incorporate your business to reduce personal liability.

Make sure you have plans for a website, logo and how you might develop your brand with more books and related products and services. A good publisher always thinks beyond one book.

In fact, you’ll sell more books if you write more books. And you’ll earn more money as an author if you brainstorm additional ways to build a business around your book.

[pullquote position=”right”]The most successful start-up companies are based on sound business plans.[/pullquote] If you are already a business person, you know this. Now apply it to your desire to become an author and self-publish an ebook (or more than one) — to become a successful publisher.

If you are writing an ebook to start a business venture, then treat your desire to get published like an entrepreneurial venture from day one. If you see yourself as a publisher, you’ll be more successful if you do!

This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.

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