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The business of writing

13 Jul

As Clarissa mentioned on Monday, many of us on this site went to the National Romance Writers of America conference in New York a couple weeks ago. On my last blog I wrote about the fear that such a big conference can inspire and my plan to not let it get a hold of me. I’m happy to report that I shoved all that fear away and embraced everything I could.

And in doing so, I learned even more.

Sometimes the best advice is something we might know but have never consciously put into words. And once we add those words it changes everything.

For some time now, I’ve set writing goals for myself, personal deadlines and set out a plan as to what to do with my WIP after I’ve finished it. Seems pretty obvious, right? This is my chosen career and every great job needs a plan. In New York I heard a slightly different twist to the plan I’ve been implementing.

As authors we are our own small business.

Duh.

I’ve subconsciously approached my writing this way for a while. Now it’s time to put it in more concrete terms. I am my own small business and as such, not only do I need goals and deadlines but I also need a one year plan, a five year one and a marketing plan. Putting things down in black and white changes things. It takes our stories from daydreams into Works In Progress and further along the path to publication. And an actual laid out business and marketing plan takes us that much further along that path. It also shows agents and editors that we are serious about our own goals.

The agents and editors that I listened to at the conference, unanimously said, that they felt the best authors were the ones that had business plans. They are the most organized and the easiest to work with. They approach deadlines professionally and take a hands on approach to making their careers successful. The agents and editors want our careers to be successful because they have an invested interest in us as well. Not only financially, but as part of their own careers.

This is not to say that everything that I am going to lay out in the next few weeks is etched in hardened cement. We are authors and sometimes our writing can surprise even us and take us down a slightly different road than we planned. But having an outline – a business plan – for that road can make the navigation that much easier.

What’s part of your business plan?

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Idaho

 

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8 responses to “The business of writing

  1. Liz Fredericks

    July 13, 2011 at 6:58 AM

    Very well stated, Meredith! You’ve hit on one of the most significant take-a-ways from the conference – approaching our writing career as though we’re a) professionals and b) planning to ‘go the distance’. I’d add one more drawn from a previous life as a financial analyst. I’m a writing ‘sole-proprietorship’ start-up (e.g., have neither signed with an agent nor interacted with an editor). Thus, my business resources are limited to what I bring to the table. I should have a solid grasp of any assets I can leverage (skills, time, technology, money, network, or name recognition) and accept that any business has liabilities (costs of contests/conferences/travel/printer ink, or time and emotional demands). Most start-ups have an initial period where liabilities seems to overwhelm assets – the trick is to get through the start up period. Your business plan recommendation is critical during a start-up phase, not just when a business is up and running. Excellent post!

     
  2. Janis

    July 13, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    Meredith,

    Excellent points. Many non-writers dismiss us as “hobbyists” and we need to expand our visions to include the business aspect as well as the creative one.

     
  3. Peggy Staggs

    July 13, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Excellent advice. It’s far more important than most writers know. A business plan not only helps you, but those around you know how serious you are.
    At National’s this year I had an editor appointment with one of Harlequin’s editors. After I gave him my pitch he asked if I had any questions. I said I’d had to throw out my business plan because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with all the recent changes in publishing (thank you Gail) and asked him what he thought about e-publishing. He just smiled and said, “Welcome to the club. Why don’t you send me your first 5 chapters and I’ll send you comments. If it isn’t right for me I’ll send it on to Mira.” I don’t think I would have gotten that offer if I hadn’t mentioned my business plan.

     
  4. Meredith Conner

    July 13, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Having a business plan and staying on track is the thing that I heard over and over again at the conference. Especially for new authors. Writing is so exciting and fun and creative that I think we can sometimes overlook the mechanics behind it. Those little cogs keep us going.

     
  5. Johanna Harness

    July 13, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    Professionals want to work with professionals. We all want to work with the best.

     
  6. Eleanor Patrick

    July 13, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Even without a business plan as such, I reckon it’s important to list what you’re writing, what needs to happen to that bit next, or who it’s out with, what it’s plan for the future is, so that you always know where you are and what you’re meant to be doing. Otherwise time passes and you chill or get self-satisfied! A bit like an office diary then…

     
  7. bethtrissel

    July 13, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Excellent post. I don’t have one, but writing goals are important.

     
  8. Carley Ash

    July 13, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Thanks Meredith. I’m going to research how to write a business plan this evening.

     

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