Well, it’s that time of the year again–the beginning. By this time a lot of people have already made and forsaken their New Year’s Resolutions. As for me? I’m just getting started.
I learned this nifty trick from Randy Ingermanson, a titan of fiction writing and teaching, and an all-around nice guy, too. It’s not so much a trick as it is a strategy to make sure you’re on task with your New Year’s Resolutions, especially if you’re a writer: create a writing business plan.
Randy talked about this in one of his past e-zines and I decided it would be a helpful tool for me. You can visit his website (just click on his name above) to search for the actual article yourself if you want all the details he included, or you can just read my summarized version in this post.
My business plan includes some key elements that you may want to put into yours. What follows is a list of what those are and a short description for each one.
Introduction: I used this section to articulate my major career goals as a writer. I listed five of them, the last of which is “To fully financially sustain myself and my family through writing-related revenues.”
Section 1 — Significant Achievements of 2010: This one is self-explanatory. I have yet to update it to 2011, but you get the idea. In this section I detailed the novels I wrote, connections I made with agents, publishers, and other authors, achievements for my writing (in 2010 I was an ACFW Genesis contest finalist), the conferences I attended, blogging, short story-writing, stuff I did to work on my brand, and other stuff too.
I also took the time to list out every book I plan to write in a table by title. I included details like genre, production status (where I was in the process of writing these books), and whether or not it’s part of an intended series.
Section 2 — Business Details: I didn’t write much in this section as most of my business isn’t happening since there’s not a lot of money coming in or going out at this point. I anticipate that it will grow as time passes, as will the amount of money I bring in. In 2010, I made a few bucks from selling my first ever short story, and then I made a few more in 2011 from selling a couple more short stories.
You can also put the amount of money you spent on your writing career in this section, and perhaps some spending you anticipate for the upcoming year. It’s important to remember that the money you spend is an investment in your writing career (it should be helping you make progress in your writing–if it’s not, then don’t spend the money on it next year).
Section 3 — Major Projects to Complete: This is for the upcoming year, of course. These are practical, achievable steps you can take towards fulfilling the goals you might list in the introduction. For me, I said that by the end of 2011 I wanted to have three publishable novels ready to present to publishers (meaning they were written and edited). To date, I have three novels and one novella (it would have been four, but one of them ended up kind of short).
At the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013 you can look back at these projects and assess your progress on them and whether or not it’s a huge failure on your part that you didn’t accomplish or finish them. It’s also important to note that things like brand development and marketing projects can fall under this section too.
Section 4 — Continuing Education: In this spot I detailed the books on writing that I wanted to read and the ones that I read the previous year. I also mentioned critique groups/partners that I had and conferences I planned to attend in 2011. Then, of course, there were fiction books I wanted to read as well, so I started keeping track of those.
Section 5 — Conclusion: I wrapped the document up by making a statement of what I will look like by the end of 2011–it’s kind of another goal, if you think about it. I said I would be much closer to realizing my overall goal of becoming a published novelist in the action/adventure genre. I also promised to revisit it in 2012 and create an updated version.
I encourage all of my author friends to create something like this if they’re trying to make a career out of writing. It has really helped to focus my attention on what parts of my life and career I should be developing, and it provides a guide to follow for the course of the year. It provides self-accountability, which is huge when you’re a writer since it can be such a solitary endeavor. Will you be writing a business plan for your writing this year?