One of the things I incorporated into my writing career the year before I decided I’d like to go full time, was a business plan. In my former life as a technical writer, I’d written many for other businesses, but never one for myself. I consulted with my husband, who is my best councillor, and wrote it up. I refer to it whenever I’m discouraged or confused about where to go next, and to remind me of my overarching goals with my writing business.
Never think your writing career is not a business, because it is. It might be a one-person operation, but it is in all important ways a business. You have suppliers, customers, workers (normally you), tools of the trade, and business expenses like advertising, promotions, printer ink and internet service. Don’t let anyone minimize the importance of these various components in your business, because each has its place and makes a difference.
When creating my business plan, I use the following format:
Start out with some basic information:
- the name of your business (mine is Patricia Green Books, yours might simply be your pen name);
- your mailing address (you should be using that as part of your front page of your manuscript, and it might be a PO Box rather than a street address, or it might be your home address); and,
- the type of business you’re hoping to run (for example, mine is “novella writing” — which doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t write novels or short stories, it just means that the primary product I’ll be creating is novellas).
Then you write your 5-year goals:
- x number of books per year for x number of years;
- moving to full time within x number of years or after x number of books published;
- $ you’d like to make per book or over the course of x months or years;
- royalty rate you can reasonable expect over the next few years (this might be an increasing number, but examine it over a 5-year cycle);
- target market; and,
- publishers you’d like to work with and/or if you plan to self-publish.
Lastly, you write your 1-year goals, which include much of the same as your 5-year goals, but in fewer increments. You might list the following:
- number of books you’ll write in 2014;
- publishers you intend to work with (or if you’ll self publish, which distributors you’ll use);
- blog goals (2 posts per week, for example, whether on your blog or as a guest/host on another blog);
- advertising/promotions budget per project or for the whole year; and,
- social media goals (x number of minutes per day, per week, or some other increment).
Allow yourself a progression between 1-year and 5-year goals. You can’t start out at the top.
That’s your writer’s business plan. I guarantee it’ll help you to make one of these plans, whether you’re just starting out or even if you’ve been in business for years, like I have. I reformulate my 1-year goals every year, and check on my 5-year plan to make sure I’m still on track. Fool with these things until you get them right for you, and modify them occasionally, as you find things in your market change.
Good luck with your writing business!