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Takin’ Care of Business – A Writer’s Business Plan
Writing Is A Business?!!: How To Create Your Business Plan
You’re an artist. I know that. You write wonderful stories to thrill and entertain the masses. But, if you would like to do this for a living you need to treat it like a career. Like a business. And, yes, you need a business plan.
If you Google “Business Plan” you’ll find some decent free templates out there. It is worth your time and effort to go through the exercise of creating a simple business plan so that you can add focus to your career path.
Most business plans are for small businesses, corporations and non-profits, but you can create one that is specific to your career. The overall idea of having a business plan is the “plan” part. You want to be organized and focused with a clear line of achievable goals that further you along toward success.
Many people pass on doing a business plan because it can be time consuming and cumbersome. It doesn’t have to be. Keep it simple to start. Answer the following questions for yourself before you create your business plan:
- Do I want to be a career writer or write in addition to another job or career?
- What do I need to do or obtain in order to get started and stay successful in achieving my goals?
- What are my assets and resources? (List them. You will need this later).
- What genre or type of story will I write? Research this genre.
- What do I need to study, research or master in order to achieve my goals?
- What equipment or services will I need? (list them)
- Where will I find support, both personally and professionally?
- How will I find the time or make the time to be successful in completing a novel and marketing it?
- What is my plan of action should I receive a rejection?
- What is my plan of action should I succeed in publishing?
Always start by learning, listening and listing.
Take an aspiring writer’s course or college course in creative writing. Perhaps you need a refresher course in English? Join a writer’s group that openly welcomes aspiring authors. If you are a published author, ask yourself where you could use some additional assistance with craft.
Listen to those with more experience or expertise than you. Determine if you trust the information and then decide what to do with that information. Join online groups that speak candidly about writing, the industry and reputations of those whose services you may one day want to enlist.
List an honest accounting of your needs and goals.
If your goal is to be a #1 New York Times bestselling author then you need to have a long-term set of goals with a detailed path of how you plan on making that happen. And if you don’t know the importance of a print run, go back to the “learning and listening” stage for a bit.
What’s your plan? Start by looking at your overall goals. Have short term, achievable goals and long term goals you are willing to work hard to achieve.
Short term goals are important. It helps keep you motivated. It helps you learn how to complete a task and it gives you the opportunity to enjoy a moment of success.
It’s important to identify your needs and set goals to ensure your needs are met. Needs include equipment. If you’re still writing with a #2 pencil you need to upgrade. You may need to arrange for childcare to carve out time to write. Your needs may include taking classes on craft.
The hardest thing, the biggest hurdle is to actually complete the book. You have to be creative when maybe you don’t feel like it. You have to work when you’re sick or heartbroken. You have to find time to write when really you just want to sleep, or eat, or vacation. Finish the book. Know how you are going to make that happen.
- Have a plan on how you will find time to write.
Knowing your assets and resources is extremely important to your business plan. It helps you to identify what you have and what you need. It helps you see strengths and weaknesses.
Assets are items you have such as a laptop, a book on grammar, a babysitter willing to work weekends, money.
Resources are similar to assets but are usually service-driven. A resource may be a brother who can do video and make you a book video. People you network with, work with or friends willing to help you edit or critique your book.
- List all assets and resources. Identify strengths and weaknesses and needs.
You need a support system. Your support system may be friends who are willing to read your work and give honest feedback. Or perhaps a group of people there just to encourage you, no matter what. A critique group. Your spouse. Without the support of a spouse your work is harder. Not impossible, but harder. Support could be monetary. Perhaps you can get a loan so you can work full time. Is that truly feasible for your situation? Perhaps you can apply for a grant? Support could be hiring a housekeeper so you have more time to write. Anything that allows you to feel success is attainable is part of your support system.
- Identify, establish and nurture your support system. Know who to turn to for your needs.
Establish long and short term goals. Know why you want to be an author. What you want to get out of your author career. For some it is to share their stories. For some it is for fame and fortune. Yet for others is may be intrinsic, like the need to share a memoir. Or, it could be to establish an expertise in a field so you can get speaking engagements or television appearances. Know yourself.
Be honest with yourself. Do you need more education on craft? Is your mother the only person who thinks you will be a #1 bestseller immediately? Be honest when you set your goals. Make them attainable. Set yourself up for success. Learn what success if like and strive to repeat that again and again.
- Set short term goals to help you attain the long term goals. Set long term goals to help you achieve career success.
Last, but certainly not least, you want to have a clear idea of how you will manage your career. From managing your time, to managing your income and managing your marketing, determine what your management strategy will be. Will you do everything yourself until you hit a certain level, write a certain number of books or get a certain royalty amount? Will you hire a personal assistant? Set up a project management system online? What part of your marketing will you do and how will that be managed?
Know who, what, how and why as you set up your career management goals and define how they will be carried out.
- Write up your management goals and how you will manage yourself and your career so that you have a clear picture of what needs to occur, when and how.
You can certainly find a business plan template and follow that. Do you analysis, write up who your competitors are and make charts and graphs. If you love to be that detailed it’s a gift. It’s an asset. But, if you’re more like me, you just want to feel organized and prepared so that you stay focused on your goals that will bring you closer to the success you’ve defined for yourself.
Tips, Tricks and Cheats
Start small. Create immediate goals, one year goals and maybe one or two career goals. You can always change it or update it as time goes on, but you want to at least have thought it out enough to write something down.
Write down your resources. Keep your list handy so you can add or alter as necessary. Be sure you keep in touch with people who you consider resources. Give to them, too!
Look for ways to save time. There’s a chapter on that so be sure not to skip that part!
Interview an author. Get an idea of what an author’s life and career is really like.
In a nutshell: Set goals. Know how you will obtain those goals. Stay focused by being intentional about your writing career.
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