While at the RWA Conference I attended a workshop given by the talented Stephanie Bond on the value of a Writer’s Business Plan.
Hold your horses, young one, don’t bail on me. I get that the use of “business plan” may invoke images of scurrying executives with briefcases in hand or endless board meetings, but I promise it will serve a critical role in your writing career.
Yes, we are a creative bunch but we are, first and foremost, professionals. And as such it’s important to utilize a business plan.
I’m going to revert to something my mom always told me: “If you really want to achieve something, write it down.” When it comes to your writing career, same goes. You want to hit the best sellers’ lists or leave a legacy of written glory? Then you best have a strategic plan in place on how you’re going to take over the literary world.
As someone who’s spent the last twenty years in higher education, specifically adult professionals, you would think this would be a no-brainer for me. Yet it wasn’t until I sat in Stephanie’s workshop that it clicked. If I wanted publishers and agents to take me seriously, I really should have a set plan in place to share with them. I am asking them to be my business partners after all. Wouldn’t it be nice if they knew what my expectations were from the start?
A business plan is basically your personal character motivation and arc sheet. It lays out what you want to accomplish, why you it’s important to you, and how you’ll go about making it a reality. It is an ever-changing document that will need to reevaluate every couple of years, as we all know how life loves to throw monkey-wrenches at the most inconvenient times.
Stephanie shared a quote from Seth Godin that sank deep: Deliberately making hard decisions early and often will prevent a 2×4 to the face.
Let’s be honest here, I’m not that into pain, so knowing what my main decisions are before having to face the situation works for me.
I sat down and began creating my business plan. First warning: this process can not be done in an hour or even a day. This is your writing future, so take it seriously. It took me a couple of weeks to put mine together, and it will change as things move forward. Remember this is a fluid document that should mirror a Yoga master in flexibility. Nothing is ever set in stone. Especially in the publishing industry.
Fine, what needs to be in my plan?
Business plans, like writers, comes in a wide variety, and there are many articles to refer to. Here are just a few from some of my favorite resources:
• Angela Ackerman’s The 7-Step Business Plan for Writers
• Jami Gold’s Introducing the Business Plan for Writers Worksheet
• Author E.M.S. with Amy Atwell’s Creating a Business Plan
Truly, you can mix and match your pieces, but I have eleven parts to mine:
- Keys to Success
- Target Audiences by Series
- Product List (Fiction and Non-Fiction)
- Planned Titles by Year
- Writing Schedule
- Events, Appearances, Memberships
- Marketing Analysis and Plan
- Strategy and Implementation Summary
- Financial Plan
There are no right or wrong set ups on this, so go forth and plot out your Written Word Domination Plan, avoid that looming 2×4 to the face, and impress your current and future business partners!