Analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) for companies or products has been a regular part of strategic business planning for decades.
Big name business consultants including BCG, McKinsey and Bain have used this type of analysis. But so what? I’m just a humble author. Is a SWOT analysis helpful in marketing my book?
Humble author or not, this technique can provide insights helpful in selling anyone’s books. Though SWOT analyses has been used for big publishing houses, there’s little precedent for its use on individual books, perhaps because people believe that the expected benefit doesn’t justify the time required, or authors aren’t inclined to think of themselves as business analysts. However…
Before jumping into this, a little background on the nomenclature: S (strengths) and W (weaknesses) are things about your book that are theoretically under your control. An example of this is what you (or your publisher) priced your book at or what kind of cover you’ve slapped on your book. O (opportunities) and T (threats) are ‘external’ factors less under your control. Examples of this are how many competing books are in your space and the overall market conditions for your genre of books.
Importantly, SWOT isn’t an end in itself; it needs to lead to actionable steps by linking up with a marketing plan for your book and a budget. Planning cool promotion tactics is pointless unless you have the resources to accomplish the task – though you don’t necessarily need a lot of money to market your book, just your creativity and cleverness.
Aligned with the points above, a SWOT analysis should allow prioritizing action steps based on the importance of a given strength, weakness, opportunity or threat.
Also, SWOT analysis is a snapshot so it needs to be revisited as circumstances evolve; i.e. it’s a dynamic exercise.
My next couple of posts will apply SWOT to my books. Stay tuned. They’ll be posted shortly.
I write modern fantasy novels that are hopefully both exciting and literate. These novels include an on-going series about a near-immortal magician who grew up in Camelot and grew famous in San Francisco's 'Summer of Love'. He's still having adventures to this day described in The Lords of the Summer Season, The Lords of Powder, and The Lords of Oblivion. The books can be read in any order.
Besides the literary side of my life, my background includes membership on a scientific advisory board for a non-profit professional organization promoting the biomedical and digital health business community in the greater Los Angeles area.
I’ve authored both basic research publications and business management articles focusing on the bio/pharma industry. My Ph.D. is in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota where I also conducted post-doctoral research in microbiology. And my BS is from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) with a double major in chemistry and cell biology.
View all posts by Peter Blaisdell