When you first start writing, it’s easy to “pants” your career just as you would pants your way through writing. But as you publish more and more books and new opportunities come your way, a little “plotting” can keep you moving in the right direction.
But I’m not the right person to talk about having business plan or how to write a business strategy. Until recently, my plan was all in my head. So, I invited author Patricia Green, to talk about business plans for authors. She’ll teach an online class through Savvy Authors, April 13-18.
Patricia Green is a full-time fiction writer specializing in erotic romance. She writes love stories that emphasize fun characters with quirky personalities. Patricia is the author of more than 20 published novels and novellas and a whole bunch of short stories.
Originally trained as a technical writer, Patricia learned to write business plans during her studies. She went on to write many business plans for corporations and small businesses as part of her technical writing consulting business. These business plans were key to her clients’ success, especially when pitching loan requests and venture capital funding. She is the creator of the Writer’s One-Page Business Plan.
In her personal life, Patricia is married and the mother of twins. When she’s not being the angel of domestic harmony and a semi-crazed creator of fictional friends, she loves to read, crochet, knit and watch hockey.
Patricia Green: The two have a lot in common. They both share the basic business requirements: product/service, workers (such as vendors), accounting, customers. The main differences are their storefront and inventory. If you’re selling an ebook, your storefront is a distributor (Amazon, ARe, etc.) and you don’t have inventory. If you also have print books, your inventory is largely managed by your publisher or distributor (CreateSpace).
Cara Bristol: Why is it important for authors to have a business plan?
Patricia Green: Like any small business, you want to make sure that your profit (or loss) is managed. If you hope to make a profit, it’s best if you figure out how to do that before you start counting your cash. And, there are times when you intentionally take a loss; you have to plan for that, too. It will also give you an at-a-glance ruler against which you can measure your progress with your book(s), and specific goals to achieve at the one year and five year marks.
Cara Bristol: I know you’ll be teaching what to put in the plan in your class, but can you share of the items [categories] that should be included?
Patricia Green: Sure. Income, expenses, genre(s), customers, books (or other written products) you intend to write or market during the upcoming year, vendors you want to work with, and publishers or agents to whom you intend to submit your MS, just to name a few items. The class is a six day class and will cover a lot of topics in five lessons and a chat.
Cara Bristol: There’s a lot of uncertainty in publishing, a lot that is out of an author’s control. How can you plan when there are things you can’t control?
Patricia Green: Any small business might ask the same question. Customers/Readers are fickle, and there are trends in virtually any industry, which are unpredictable. That’s where the five year plan comes in. You can weather almost any storm in one specific year, whether that’s a market trend or a health matter, if you plan five years at a time. You’ll also need interim one year plans, and those should be what you consult most of the time.
Cara Bristol: At what point in an author’s career, should he/she develop a plan?
Patricia Green: Before writing, optimally. But anytime is better than never. If you plan in advance of writing, you can focus a lot more of your energies on getting your writing done and setting up for success. If you don’t plan ahead, you will flail around and re-invent the wheel a lot more.
Cara Bristol: At what point in your career did you write a business plan and how did it help you?
Patricia Green: It’s funny, because when I was a consulting technical writer, I had a business plan I stuck to. And I wrote lots of business plans for my clients. But my fiction writing was a “side job” at first, and I did it unplanned for many years (through my first five books, in fact). Then my husband wisely pointed out that if I was going to go full time with fiction, I’d better write as comprehensive a business plan as I had for my technical writing business. That’s when I started working it out, and I’ve had a lot more success.
Cara Bristol: Please share some details about your class. What will you cover?
Patricia Green: We’ll be looking at the basic requirements for a small business and what a sole proprietor writer’s requirements are – most of which are common elements. The class will also cover income (including calculations to determine what your gross income versus net income for any particular project might be), your expenses, your business strategy for success, and what your goals for the year and for five years might be. I will also be distributing a template for a one page business plan, which is basically a fill-in-the-blanks way to get started. I create one of these each year, and one for a five year plan. Questions will be answered throughout, and there will be a chat session the last day of class.
Cara Bristol: How do authors sign up?
Patricia Green: You can go to Savvy Authors at this page for my particular class: http://ce.savvyauthors.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Calendar.eventDetail&eventId=2419
You need to be at least a “Basic Member” which is free. You can get a membership here:
There are quite a few benefits to membership, besides my class.
Cara Bristol: Anything else you’d like to mention?
Patricia Green: Writing a business plan is a basic requirement for success in publishing, and in any other business. Whether you’re a writer, a cover artist, a formatter, or an editor, you will be a lot more focused and happy with a plan to work from. You are less likely to get lost along the way and find out that you have to start over from scratch. The advantages are many, and I can’t see any disadvantage to planning ahead.
Contact Patricia Green
Email: pig (at) patriciagreenbooks (dot) com