Do you have a business plan? If not, you aren’t alone. Many authors don’t have one, for any number of reasons. It can be scary to actually put your dreams into words. It can be intimidating to look at how much work you need to do to get to where you want to go. And it can be embarrassing to admit you haven’t a clue as to what you even want to achieve. But, according to Stephanie Bond, an MBA-holding author of over seventy mystery and romance titles, a business plan is a necessity. In her 2016 RWA Nationals workshop, “Plan for Success: Create a Motivational Business Plan for Your Writing Career,” she discussed the benefits of creating a business plan, and shared a rough outline for how to write one for yourself.
Perhaps writing a business plan came naturally to Stephanie, since she holds an MBA and spent many years climbing the ranks of the corporate world before quitting to write full-time. But it doesn’t have to be a formal process. According to Stephanie, we can start out by asking ourselves questions. Questions like: What do you want to do with your writing? What do you want to achieve? How do you want to affect your readers? Just forcing yourself to think about the big picture like this is an excellent tool for establishing focus and figuring out what you really want to accomplish as a writer. This is the foundation of your business plan, and allows you to lay the groundwork for the future of your writing career.
An important component of your business plan should be setting your goals and objectives, which Stephanie described as two separate things. Goals, she said, are under your control, while objectives are not. Objectives tend to be lofty and long-term – Earn enough money to live off my writing! Hit the New York Times bestseller list! – while goals are short-term and achievable – Enter that contest! Query that agent! Focus on what you can control, she said, and figure out what kinds of short-term goals you can set that might help you to achieve those lofty, long-term objectives.
She also stressed the importance of adopting a business mindset in your everyday life, and recommended paying attention to business blogs, such as Seth Godin’s, keeping CNBC on in the background as you work, and reading Entrepreneur magazine.
In my opinion, the most important takeaway from the workshop was the following sentiment:
You are a business that creates entertainment for consumption in multiple formats.
Think of yourself as a “content generator,” creating novels, blog posts, audiobooks, novellas, short stories, nonfiction articles, and more.
There was so much to this wonderful workshop, including discussion of branding strategies and instructions on how to maintain a body of work document. I came away from it inspired to create my own business plan, which has left me more motivated and inspired than ever before. If you’re an RWA member, you can purchase the audio recording at rwa.org to get all the details. The return on investment could be huge.