copyright 2012, Rudy A. Mazzocchi
As a serial entrepreneur who co-founded eleven med-tech companies and managed five of them as CEO, I quickly came to realize that launching a debut novel as a first time author requires a similar skill set to overcome similar challenges.
In order to create a new medical technology company (or your first novel), you need a solid concept, do your research, and make a decision at some point to “become committed”. You also need to start by assessing a defined process: (i) what’s the potential market (genre), (ii) who’s your end-user (audience), (iii) can you build a world-class team (agent, publisher, publicist), and (iv) do you have adequate resources (time, energy, money) to achieve your goals?
If you don’t secure adequate backing (or support of a literary agent), you can still “go it alone” (self-publishing) by raising money from family and friends to get your company (novel) off the ground. However, the burning desire to go-big or go-home urges you to chase down that big-name Venture Capital Fund (or NY Literary Agency). This is where the persistence of the entrepreneur (writer) is important. In funding my current company, I presented to 34 venture funds before securing a commitment for funding. Similarly, I made over 25 submissions to potential Literary Agents before camping out on the steps of the Trident Media Group, the agency that I targeted as my number one, preferred agency. It took eleven months to close the financing and approximately a year to secure representation by Trident.
Striving for Perfection
All initial drafts require a great deal of revision and fine-tuning, regardless of whether it’s a business plan or a manuscript. Most lead investors (or Literary Agencies) will contribute to molding the final plan before putting their name behind the project. My current company is in the process of executing the ninth version of a business plan and my final manuscript of EQUITY of EVIL has undergone multiple formal rounds of review and revision by three professional editors… one which was specifically required by my Agent before they would commit to their representation.
Building Your Team
Once the business plan (manuscript) is well-defined, it now becomes essential to build your infrastructure and a team that is capable of “taking the product to market”. In the case of building a new company, selection of the management team will make or break the success of the business. Likewise, it is now critical to identify the best possible publisher for your novel. Many of these selection factors and processes (for a company or a novel), ironically are again very similar. You first need to identify who might be available and willing to take the risk with a new venture (or new author). Timing and terms of their commitment are other considerations. As we need to consider the requirements of planning clinical studies to meet the demands of the FDA, the author needs to consider the steps to achieve the best possible release of their book, to include reviews, book tours (virtual or real), promotional efforts (websites, blogs, tweets, interviews) and the building of brand recognition.
Building a Quality Product
Product design and development drives the “fit, form and function” of all new medical technology. These features are also important to consider when determining the name and cover concept of your book. We underwent a significant name change after struggling with the initial title of my novel, eventually agreeing on EQUITY of EVIL in order to ensure it conveyed the right initial impression to potential readers. Even more difficult was the selection of the cover concept. This process took months before identifying a design that was agreeable to me as the author, my Agent and my publisher; Twilight Times Books. It’s this “upfront work” that defines how we will execute our business plan as well as how we turn a manuscript into a published novel.
Launching the Product
Many people have pursued a new technology concept, somehow got it funded, developed a finished product, got it approved for market release, and launched it into the market… only to discover that it was just a slightly “better mousetrap” that the market wasn’t too excited about. Unfortunately, many novels end up on the shelf with a similar result. When this happens, everyone involved with the project tends to lose their enthusiasm for pursuing the next best idea that might come along. Success breeds success… and confidence. It is therefore extremely important to understand the dynamics of your audience, what it takes to reach them, and what appropriate marketing campaign is required to ensure the successful launch of your product.
In the natural evolution of any venture, success is then determined by market penetration. After the struggle to build a unique, high quality product, with the best team possible, it eventually comes down to “numbers”. In the event we fall short, we need to do that gut-check to determine whether it’s truly because we haven’t done an adequate job in promoting, marketing and/or building brand recognition… or if it’s simply because we didn’t meet the requirements to provide a quality product to our audience. No one can afford to “throw good money after bad”, so it’s important to maintain the discipline of knowing when to fold up camp and either move on to the next project (a litter stronger and wiser) or find another venue to pursue your creativity.
Whether starting a new company or sitting down to write that novel, they both demand commitment, persistence and passion. Sure, there’s no guarantee for success, but we do this because we’re compelled to do so… our brains are “wired” to follow these pursuits, regardless of the pain and expense we might incur along the way. It’s not for everyone, as this is the true definition of entrepreneurism!
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Author Website: www.rudymazzocchi.com
Rudy is best known as a medical device and biotechnology entrepreneur, inventor, and angel investor, with a history of starting new technology ventures throughout the U.S. and Europe. He’s been privileged to have the opportunity to see the newest innovations in healthcare and work with some of the most brilliant researchers, scientists and physicians in the industry.
Authoring more than 50 patents, he has helped pioneer new companies involved in cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, neurosurgery and even embryonic stem-cell development. Through these efforts, he has become the recipient of many technology and business awards, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Healthcare and the Businessman of the Year Award.
Combining these experiences and opportunities, with thousands of hours of travel and long evenings in hotel rooms, he found the initiative to start writing a collection of medical thrillers based on true events, the first of which is entitled "EQUITY of EVIL".