Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Getting those Crazy Ducks in a Row
I have discovered that most people don’t think of writing as a job. A career. A business. I’ve been told it’s nice I found a hobby. Others have praised me for developing my “gift.” Few realize the hours it takes to write, pitch, publish, publicize, ….in a word: work.
Is my writing fun? Yep. Rewarding? Yes. Purposeful? You bet. Lucrative? Not yet.
As a writer I am self-employed. Writing is my business. And to prove it, I have real honest-to-goodness business cards. (Thank you, Danielle.) More importantly, I have a business plan.
No one told me I needed to draft a business plan when I started this career in earnest in 2012, but common sense dictated I create one. At the time I was still teaching at the university. I knew I would be leaving that setting in December of 2012, so in March of that year, I spent a good portion of my Spring Break drafting my business plan to become a writer. It helped me get my ducks in a row.
This may be the toughest, most honest writing you will do if you want to be a writer. A friend of mine said, “Can I just say I want to write a best seller or be famous?”
A mission or vision statement should reflect who you are or who you want to be as a writer. Not necessarily famous. A few weeks ago I posted an interview I had with +Debby Mayne. Debby is a successful writer of Christian romance novels and novellas. At one point she was told she could make more money if she wrote romance novels with steamy sex scenes in them. She thought about it. For about a minute. Those books wouldn’t be true to who she was. She told me she never wanted to write something she would be ashamed of letting her children or even her parents read. She was true to the vision of who she is as a writer.
Clearly state your goals. Set some specific yet realistic goals for your writing career. You may say, “Within three years I want to have published a novel.”
It’s okay to take it slow though, too. You may say, for example, “This first year I want to spend building my platform and learning everything I can about the publishing industry while I write. This would be realistic. You can then be even more specific by breaking each of these goals down a bit.
1. I’m going to build my platform using social media. I’m going to aim to have 1000 friends on my Facebook page.
2. I’m going to research the publishing industry on the internet.
3. I’m setting a goal to write 500 words every day.
Get the idea? Write specific, realistic goals in your business plan.
Put your strengths in your plan as well as your weaknesses. Plan a strategy to work on those weaknesses. Write it down. Maybe you need to pick up a book on grammar or self-editing. Maybe you need to type your post into a Word document first then cut and paste it into your blog. Be sure to create a plan to address your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths.
Educate Yourself: Include in your plan an education piece. I mentioned earlier about researching the publishing industry. Every writer should learn all he or she can about the publishing world. It changes, yes, but the more you know as you write, the better chance you have of getting published. One of the education pieces I wrote into my business plan was to attend a writing conference. I could only afford two days of that first conference, but it was well worth it.
Engage: Work with mentors. Connect with other writers. Join a writing group. As you do this, re-examine your plan carefully. Look for any holes. For example, although I had considered blogging, I did not realize the importance of using this tool as a platform. After attending a writing conference and talking with other writers, I identified this as a hole in my business plan.
Once you have found an area you need to address, formulate a plan to fix it. For me, I decided to read several other writer’s blogs to identify what types of content I needed and what appealed to me as a user. I then researched blogging and found an on-line tutorial to help me develop a plan to implement my blog. Until I finished the tutorial, I decided to write a weekly mini post on my existing Facebook page. I took this route so I could get in the habit of regular on-line writing. I know it was a baby step, but a step in the right direction.
Create a timeline to realistically meet your goals. I am talking about a visual here: A chart, graph, calendar, or picture to include in your plan. Do not neglect this piece. Some elements of your plan will get lost in the words. They will be clear on your timeline and help you remain focused.
Finally, remember this: Your business plan should be a dynamic, not static, document. As you grow and learn more about your new work and about yourself, your plan will change. As you move from a part-time writer to a full-time writer, your plan will change. As you age or have children or move to a new location or discover a passion for skydiving, your plan will change.
If you are a writer, revising your plan is always an option. The first challenge is to make sure you have one to revise.
On a side note: Breathing on Her Own is getting great reviews. You can now order it on Amazon or through your local Barnes & Noble bookstore! Yay!
Here are the links:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breathing-on-her-own-rebecca-waters/1118968997?ean=9781941103159&itm=1&usri=9781941103159