Monday, September 04, 2006

A Business Plan For Writers

Marcela Landres interviewed me about my business plan in her September newsletter. If you think it’s not for you, think again if you want to be a successful novelist (e.g published more than once).

Here are the parts of my business plan model that I discussed in Marcela's interview:

Mission Statement: think of this as your calling to writing as opposed to, "I want to be a NYT bestselling author and makes tons of cash." Are you writing to entertain women, to inspire African American teens, to bring justice to the bad guys? Your mission is what inspires your work.

Reader profile: My first draft of this section was inspired by one of my more memorable rejection letters. The agent wrote that she did not imagine Hot Tamara finding a place in the competitive marketplace. But I did. I imagined a young women; she could be Latina, white, Asain ... didn't matter. Anyway, this young woman had a job, a car, maybe she shared an apartment with friends or a boyfriend or she was married. My link to her was that she loved books and she wanted a story and a heroine who had similar issues like her. I pictured her on her lunch break, sitting at a table under a tree reading my book and wishing she didn't have to go back to her desk because she was dying to know what happened next.

Once I sold Hot Tamara into the competitive marketplace (sorry, couldn't stop myself), I did my homework. I stopped women in bookstores, read articles about book sales, hunted down Latina sororities and networking organizations ... you name it. And I still update this profile because I want each new book to find more of these readers.

Goals/Strategy: Before I sold my first book, this section had my top ten list of agents, my B-list, etc. I had their names, their recent sales (culled from and acknowledgements from books I thought were similar to mine) as well as the dates when I had sent my query and its status. Like I said I'm not a Virgo, just a hard-working Capricorn with a one-track mind.

When I sold and then continued to sell books, this is where I keep track of my proposals and projects. Also, when I'm slugging it out with one project and get a new idea, this is where I'll put that idea so it stays out of my head. But strategy has become the most important piece of this section. This is how I keep track of my communication with my agent; how I plan to promote my next book; and how I plan updates to my website.

Otherwise, I'd forget and drift aimlessly and not be able to write and you would never discover if Tamara and Will have children. Opps, did I let that one slip? So sorry.

heh heh heh

Oh come on, you know I love you!

Going back to the topic at hand, even if you're not yet published, consider creating your plan now. It will only make your queries and proposals stronger. But even more important, it can be a souce for inspiration when that rejection letter appears in your mail box, or when you can't write another word of your work-in-progress.




Nadine said...

That's a really interesting post Mary... I know there was an article about biz plans in last month's RWR (I think so anyway...). I've always wondered how useful would it be to get your goals on paper, but if writing is thinking (and I think it is) then I'd say I need to get on that... and I imagine your biz plan would have to be tweaked with every step (first sale, second sale, new style of writing...) you embatk on.

Now, if only I had TIME for all of this!! Ah, to write/promote full time...

PS I started my blog not too long ago!!! Didn't want to advertise it too much until I could prove it to myself that I had it in me to blog often.

Hope to see you there!

Unknown said...

When I wrote my plan, I was working 12 sometimes 16 hours a day at a newspaper. I firmly believe we don't find time; we make it.

If you haev time to blog, then you have time to write a plan.

Nadine said...

I think that the root cause of many of my problems is time management skills (or lack thereof) - whether at work on the day job, or at work on the novel. I think you have to try your best to be in the moment at all times - if working on your novel, focus on that. If toiling at the day job, focus, so you can get more done, and more efficiently too. Alas, it's easier said than done... at least for me!

Louise said...

Hi Mary --
Love this post! Please tell me you might be willing to turn this into an article for the ORANGE BLOSSOM. Pretty please..????

Love you!