Friday, February 18, 2011

Writing Business Plan

After twelve years as an RWA member I've registered for my first ever national conference in New York this summer. Yeah! for the trip. Not such a big Yeah! for the credit card.

Because I don't know when I'll have the opportunity to attend another one, I want to make the most of this opportunity. Not like the KOD retreat I attended where I had an individual appointment with a fabulous agent - but actually had nothing to pitch so gave up my spot to a friend who did. Yes, I was supposed to write my mystery series, which is the type of book she represents, but didn't even get to Chapter 1 before the Retreat arrived.

This time I'm determined to make the most of the conference opportunities. Which means having books to pitch.

So, in preparation I developed a Writing Business Plan. What needs to be done. When. The completion of the  books, the website, the pitch, - oh and of course the diet. In doing something concrete like a spreadsheet it makes the writing seem more real, less of a dream and more tangible - and reachable. It also keeps me positive and looking forward in case that partial I have with Desire comes back with a less than positive response. Or, the current book is giving me trouble. Don't look back, look forward.

It also allows me to focus on what's important to me and controllable by me rather than getting carried away with all the negative gloom and doom that passes through my inbox and twitter on the state of the publishing industry. Treating it like a business now will help when I do get that contract. I'll know how much I can write in a day/week and what appropriate deadlines are for me, have an updated website and an author Facebook page.

Do you have any type of written "plan" for your writing career? Or do you go by the seat of your pants, where the muse guides you on any given day?


Kelly said...

I do love a written plan...I should probably do something similar since I've got 3 things I'm trying to complete by the time conference rolls around. Great idea, Anne!

Cat Schield said...

I've been using spreadsheets to "plan" for five years now. It started as a way to keep track of the contests I was entering, deadline dates, cost, editors. Then as it progressed to book status as I got more books under my belt. Having a visual helps to keep you motivated.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Kelly, I think a spreadsheet is just what you need!

Anne MacFarlane said...

Cat, I hope to have a lot more projects to keep track of in the upcoming months.

Julia Smith said...

You know me, Anne - seat of the pants, all the way. No spreadsheets for this hippy chick.

Meanwhile, I do well with a concrete deadline like my weekly fiction post on Saturdays - I churn that out like clockwork.

Michelle Helliwell said...

This was the first year I made one - it's even pretty (sometime I'll show you) because I have an aversion to Excel that borders on a phobia. And then, just the other night, as I was thinking about things - the uncertainty in the industry, etc - I came up with a longer term plan (still a little vague) but gave me a sense of direction for what I plan on doing in the next 5 years. Gotta write that down... Seriously though, when you're as scattered as I can be, it's good for grounding me.

Anne MacFarlane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne MacFarlane said...

Michelle, nothing makes me feel more in control than Excel. LOL.

Cat Schield said...

Okay, here's where I should jump back in and stress what I learned from the wonderful Cherry Adair. If you intend to make a career as a writer, you should really treat your writing as a business. That means you need to know how much you can produce in a year and you need to set some goals as to what you intend to accomplish this year. Not just writing goals, but promotion/networking goals, learning goals, etc.

And once you sell, more than ever, you'll need to be self motivated and self directed. Especially if you don't have an agent to handle the business side for you.

It might seem like wheels of publishing spin very slow, but when you're staring at a blank computer screen, it's shocking how fast those months fly by. The next thing you know, it's been a year and you haven't submitted a second book to your editor. Anyone feeling panicky yet? Gets my anxiety level up.

So get those plans working!