Business Plan

"All things are possible. Who you are is limited by who you think you are." Egyptian Book of the DeadThe Memorial Day holiday two weeks ago tomorrow kicked off the unofficial beginning to the summer season in the US. So it hasn’t been terribly surprising to me that responses to job applications have been slow to come. But making contingency plans for an extended period of day job-less-ness has had me thinking about my other job. I’ve started writing my sixth novel, my eleventh title. Dean Wesley Smith kicked off this month with a duo of posts about writers quitting, positing that that’s the only way we derail our writing careers. And the New York Times had a thoughtful piece about how quitting (in a day job context) is sometimes the only way to get ahead.

Today, then, I ran across an author who described the process she went through to develop a business plan for her book-writing endeavor.

I’ve written business plans for hubs’ acupuncture practice, for business ideas we’ve had, and for my MBA. I haven’t done one for my writing. I’m not sure exactly why, though they are a pain to develop properly, and take time I’d prefer to dedicate to “real” writing. Yet I’ve treated my writing as a business from the very beginning, following the accounting templates Gayla had originally developed, being careful to note real costs versus actual income, and balancing promo opportunities against costs already incurred.

Since I’ve been dipping my toes into promotion much more this year than I have in the past–and I’ve been seeing an uptick in my sales in recent months–I might have to replicate Denise Grover Swank’s process for myself. In broad strokes, my goal has always been to release 2-3 titles per year… indefinitely. My assumption, based on other authors’ experience, is that at about the 20-title catalog mark, I should be seeing sustainable monthly income. My goal, given life’s vicissitudes, is to have a variety of income streams so that if algorithms change, or the economy changes, I have fallback options. Ensuring that my stories are available in audio, print, and ebook formats is one way to guard against risk.

Doing marketing, even for old titles, is another. There are a wide variety of highly respected book promotion options: Booksprout, The Book Promoter, and Hidden Gems Books are three I discovered this week. I’ve had good luck with Booktastik, Itsy Bitsy Book Bits, and Totally Talented Promotions. I’ll be working on putting together an actual plan to see if I can find the mix that works for my writing business.

Part of thinking about the business side of creative writing also means being specific and intentional about your audience. So an article in The Guardian asking why we don’t see middle-aged women on our book covers hit me between the eyes. This is my demographic. And my target demographic. My characters are intentionally middle aged. While I occasionally (rarely) still dip my reading toes in YA stories, I’ve lived beyond enjoying them as much any more. I want to read characters who’ve LIVED. Who’ve accumulated experience and perspective and worked hard to develop skills. So that’s what I’ve been writing. In researching some of the demographic details for characters in my newest book, I discovered Nigerian immigrants to the US are currently the most successful ethnic group here. And I learned about asexuality. The self-awareness it takes to put either of those character facets into context takes years of living, of being challenged by people who don’t understand you, of accepting who you are. That’s more interesting to me than children who are still largely unformed on the far side of that curve.

In any case, all online business options have the uncertainty of the Net Neutrality repeal going into effect tomorrow hanging over their proverbial necks like Damocles’ sword. Lucky are those who live in New York, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, where the politicians aren’t quite as craven as those at the national level, and have created local laws ensuring undifferentiated web speed tiers survive in at least a few outposts.

Apart from all this, I’ve been helping a friend whose relationship was derailed after 18 years. We’re choosing to channel that change into a cascade of changes that will culminate in a new animal rescue option for her town, so expect to see me promoting that fundraiser in the not-too-distant future.

Hubs and I have been keeping up with our daily walks, to the tune of 4,479 steps/day average last week, combined with an average of 8 hours and 27 minutes of sleep per night. There is definitely something to be said for being on hiatus/taking a sabbatical. I feel more relaxed and happy now than I have in quite a while, and will have to work to make sure these adjustments “stick” once I return to the working world.

On the other hand, we haven’t been keeping up with our shows that well–though we did binge the first three episodes of Season 3 of The Expanse. We’re thrilled Amazon has decided to pick up the show for a fourth season, too. Now that the Capitals have won the Stanley Cup, I’m sure we’ll get back to our more accustomed patterns.

In the meantime, this Round comes to an end in 11 days. I’ve reduced my blogging cadence to every two weeks to focus on research for word herding and job hunting, so my next check-in is most likely to be for setting goals for the next Round–pending any other unexpected announcements. In the meantime, look at everything my cohorts have accomplished.

One Response to “Business Plan”

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your job, dear, but, knowing the determined and clever woman you are, I’m sure you’ll manage to find something much better and that will be worth your time and effort.

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