Business Plans for Writers
I love this time of year, not only because of the eggnog and cookies and holiday lights (although I do love all that), but I love all of the year-end optimism. The resolutions, the looking back, the looking forward, the plans, the expectations. I love how this time of year forces you to take stock of the things you accomplished over the last twelve months, and to make plans for the upcoming year to see what you can do better, or where you’re headed next.
It just feels like there’s so much potential moving into a new year.
So this is, of course, the perfect time to be updating your business plan.
Don’t have a business plan? Well then, this is the perfect time to create one! And no, you don’t need to be a professional writer yet—a plan can be useful for anyone with writing aspirations. A business plan is like a roadmap that will give you an at-a-glance picture of your goals and priorities. It helps you focus and challenge yourself, and it will let you know when you’re falling behind.
Your Business Plan Can Consists of:
- Writing Goals
Do you want to finish the first draft of your novel? Revise and edit it? Query agents? Submit it to your editor? Start outlining a new project? Branch out into short stories or nonfiction articles?
- Promotion Goals
How about starting a mailing list this year? Build a new web site? Amp up your Twitter, Facebook, or blog presence? Or do you want to do a certain amount of speaking engagements this year, or guest post on a certain number of blogs?
- Professional Development Goals
Is this the year you go to a writer’s conference? Treat yourself to a writing retreat? Take a writing class? Read one craft guide per month?
- Reading Goals
How many books do you hope to read this year? Do you want to branch out of your genre comfort zone? Read a poem every day? Start reading nonfiction that has nothing to do with novel research?
Be sure to aim high. Challenge yourself! But don’t overwhelm yourself with so many goals that you give up before you begin. It’s tricky trying to find the right balance, and I’ll be honest—I have never in my life had a year in which I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish. However, I usually come close, and this way I know that I’m always pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.
My Personal 2012/2013 Business Plans
My 2012 Business Plan looked something like this:
- Launch and promote CINDER to my publisher’s and my expectations (success) *
- Final revisions/edits for SCARLET and early promotion (success)
- Turn CRESS in to my editor (success)
- Brainstorm, outline, and draft something brand new (success)
- Launch my web site, new blog, and newsletter (success)
- Have a consistent presence (daily or weekly postings) on Twitter and Facebook (semi-success)
- Review and begin revisions on WINTER
*I realize this is vague, but at the time I had no idea what promotion was going to entail, so I decided to just do my best.
The last goal—begin revisions on WINTER—is the only item that I was unable to get to this year. (Although… there are two weeks left still…) All in all, I’m happy with the things that I accomplished in 2012 and feel like I’m in a good position to keep my writing career chugging right along in 2013.
So here’s what my 2013 Business Plan looks like:
- Launch and promote SCARLET
- Final revisions/edits for CRESS and early promotion
- Turn WINTER in to my editor
- Turn the Secret Nano Project in to my editor
- Brainstorm and outline whatever will come next
- More regular updates to the Marissa Meyer Facebook fan page (esp. while traveling)
Breaking It Down
Once you’ve figured out your goals for the upcoming year, don’t forget this all-important next step: break it down! The first thing I do after updating my business plan is go through my 12-month writing calendar and begin penciling in deadlines and monthly goals.
Begin by giving yourself deadlines for each item on the plan. Many of these will change. They always do for me, at least. But at least I can look ahead and see if I’m biting off more than I can chew or not challenging myself enough. I make sure to note any true¸ publisher-enforced deadlines and indicate that my goal is to be finished with that project well ahead of time so I avoid any stressful crunch periods.
If you have ongoing goals (say, read one craft guide a month), then indicate that throughout the calendar, or even write down the title of the specific book you want to read that month.
The first few months of my 2013 will look something like this:
CRESS revisions and editing – return to editor
Synopsis of Secret Nano Project to editor
Plan Scarlet launch party
Write blog posts for Scarlet blog tour
Misc. promotion stuff for Scarlet launch
SCARLET launch and tour!
Read through WINTER draft and begin making plan for revisions
WINTER revisions – 1/3 through draft
WINTER revisions – 2/3 through draft
WINTER revisions – draft 2 complete
Review Secret Nano Project and make plan for revisions
That way, I’ll always know when I start to fall behind and how dire it is.
Well… this blog post turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. I do LOVE talking about business plans and goal-setting! <3
Now it’s your turn. Have you made a business plan for your writing career? What’s on your 2013 agenda?