planning · Uncategorized · Voirey Linger

The Business Plan

The subject of a business plan has more information than I can put in just one post. This month I’ll be talking about what a plan is and why to consider one, and next month I will discuss the process of making a plan and factors to consider. ~ Voirey

Talk of author business plans has been tossed around quite a bit in my circles lately… admittedly on my provocation. The discussions have been very interesting to say the least. I’ve been surprised by the number of authors whose plans consist of  “write the book, sell the book, see where it takes me”. I’ve been told repeatedly and on several fronts that you can’t plan success and publishing is a crap shoot. Either you make it or you don’t.


I believe the conventional wisdom is wrong. A writing career isn’t a gamble. It’s something you can plot out, something that you can point in the direction you want it to go.

So what exactly is a business plan, how is it different from goals and how does one go about making a business plan?

A goal at its most basic level is what you want your individual writing career to be. This won’t be the same for any two people. One might want an A-list, bestseller career while another just wants to be able to write and share her work. Both are perfectly acceptable goals. Once you define just what you want, you can start to work toward it. This is where the business plan comes in.

I posted a while back about Mapping Your Career Plan in which I discussed goals, why and how to make them. The plan is the next step in the process, where those goals become action. This is also one area where it’s wise to tap into the experience of others. While not everything that works for another author will work for you, their experiences can be a starting point. Adopt and adapt their tactics to fit you.

If you want to construct a business plan, start by making five-year goals. Where do you want to be in your writing career five years from now and what goals do you want to reach along the way?

There is more to put into this plan than just writing books. The length of the book and the timing of the releases are important, too. Early on, I was given a tidbit of advice from an established author. She knew my goal was to begin supporting my family with my writing as soon as possible and told me that I needed to look at shorter stories that could be finished quickly and digital presses that would get them out and earning fast. “You don’t have time to wait. Sell quickly now and work on the bigger projects when your career established.”

Thus began my business planning. I stopped thinking of writing as a dream or a hobby and got serious about making it my career.I spent a lot of time listening and talking to people who had working business plans, made note of their goals and how they met them, then I began to incorporate their strategies into my own.

Since adopting a business plan, most of my anxiety over writing, submitting and selling has vanished. I know where I want to go and have an idea of what steps are needed to make to get there. Not only is my plan in place, but my backups are as well.

How about you? Have you given much thought to your personal business plan?

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19 thoughts on “The Business Plan

  1. I just recently did one, and it wasn’t easy to look ahead five years and say “This is where I want to be” especially since I tend to just run with the flow. It’s taken me about three weeks to do it, and I’m not quite done with it, but it’s getting there. I think it also makes me more excited about writing because then I start thinking about what happens when I achieve those goals.

    1. Motivating, isn’t it Suzan? having a clear idea of where I wanted to be gave me a big boost. Looking at my game plan on getting there really gets me excited, because I can see how it’s possible. It’s not just a dream, it’s a workable reality.

      Good job on building the plan! I can’t wait to see where it takes you. 🙂

  2. You know I am a tragic pantser, so I haven’t actually committed my plan to paper, but I have had a very specific path in mind for the past year. I’m happy to report that it seems to be shaping up nicely. I suppose I could drop it into a nice spreadsheet sometime. Perhaps one with a graph or pie chart. Mmm…pie.

    1. Mmm.. Pie…

      I like having the list of things to do. I can mark off accomplishments and feel special about them. I have a goals thread on my crit group forum and I live for the weekly updates. My goal this year was 5 things published and it gives me a buzz to see my list of sales and know I’m going to make it.

      Having it in an updateable list lets me keep track of the business plan and make sure the plan is workable as of today. Setbacks happen. When they do i don’t want to feel like I have to run to catch up. Adjusting my goals and the plan to compensate over time works better for me.

  3. The truth is I haven’t really thought about my plan. I think in part because I never thought I would get published but now I need to think about what I really want. I would love to support my family and thus need to start my plan. Your thoughts have been very insightful. Thanks.

    1. Glad it sparked something for you. I’d love to hear more about your plan as it forms. When it comes to planning, I feed off others. I love hearing ideas and seeing if they will work with my goals.

  4. I have started making a “writing schedule” for myself each year, but I hadn’t considered making a longer term goal, like a 5 year one… Thanks for the great idea. I will certainly be coming up with that soon. 🙂

    1. Good luck with your five-year goal! it was the first thing my mentor told me to do, and it made a huger difference in how I thought about writing. Hope it does the same for you.

    1. Welcome, Nara!

      Having goals and a plan can be very clarifying. Good luck with yours.

  5. I have a list, but I need to get more formal! It looks like all that research I did in college for my boss’s restaurant business plan will be put to use again. Who knew all this planning went into writing and (hopefully) publishing books? Glad my DSRA babes do! Thanks for the awesome post, V!

    1. Thanks, Meagan! I’m constantly amazed by how much happens behind the scenes. That’s probably why I want to organize my thoughts so often. Getting a handle on where I’m going keeps me from getting lost.

  6. Well, jeez. And here I thought I had a productive day going. 😉 I think your approach is very smart. I’ve been creative writing for a decade but only attempted to break into the author scene a little over a year ago. I was fortunate to get a ‘yes’ on the first go. My main goal as a writer is to have my work out there–work I’m proud of. I don’t really expect to turn it into a career, but I don’t ever want to close myself to the possibility of that happening, either. Maybe someday in the future. I’ve been writing my butt off this summer knowing I’m heading back to school in the fall for a year of teachers college. I think goals and business plans are beneficial for any career path, so I thank you for your motivating words! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Evelyn!

      Career vs. non-career writer makes a big difference in the importance of the business plan, but I really think anyone who sells should have goals and a plan in place.

      Good luck with school!

    1. Good question Isabelle. I think plans are good ideas for any author who wants to be published in any form. The plan for an unpublished author would vary from the plans of a published one somewhat, but there is still room to figure out what you want and how you want to get there.

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