I found the RWA National Convention in July of this year to be stunning in the range of helpful workshops, wonderful people, and willing mentors available. At the top of the list of things I came away with that are going to help me get where I am going I have to put Stephanie Bond’s workshop.
Her “Business Plan for any Creative Career” is full of great advice and wonderful wisdom. Because she herself is a writer, she understands the limited interest most creative types have for numbers and non-plotting plans. Maybe that would help, to think of your business plan as the plot to your own story.
How does Stephanie suggest we focus on Important Stuff? First, subscribe to Entrepreneur Magazine. Second, keep CNBC on in the background while you work or when just kicking back. But don’t forget to look at ways to make your books stand out. Your writing is your product, you have to have the best you can. Still, imagine including a travelogue with your Orient Express mystery. A list of songs, one for each character or situation. Or a reading guide to make the story more immediate if it’s historical or even current events.
Branding is more than the font you use on your covers. It’s a way to make your product easy to find for your customers. Use a pen name unless you don’t mind giving up your private life. And stick to one name and one genre if you don’t want to do double the work.
Other tools available include following Seth Godin, checking the HuffPost for business related information, and a subscription to Publisher’s Marketplace on-line for a couple months.
As you look at your career as a writer and examine where you want to be in 5 years or whatever time frame you want to use, come up with questions for yourself. You can ask your critique group or other writer groups to ask you similar questions. Use your gut reactions from these questions to map your career path.
You don’t really need a format for writing out your plan (but there are many available). (http://www.noraconrad.com/blog/the-mini-business-plan
http://lerablog.org/business/how-to-write-a-business-plan-heres-a-method-that-doesnt-actually-suck/ ) Stephanie prefers a business plan template with sections so that she can use what she needs right now and fill in more if and when it becomes relevant.
There’s so much more that I learned from this workshop, but you really need to take it from Stephanie Bond. I absolutely love her web page and will probably steal some of those cool ideas, like a sliding scale to show progress on upcoming books. If you look here http://www.stephaniebond.com/read/non-fiction/ down on the right side you will see a book titled “Mind Your Writing Business” that is 73% completed. I highly suggest you get that book when it’s available. Doesn’t look like Stephanie is scheduled to teach the workshop anywhere at the moment, so get the book and follow along closely. Don’t be afraid of the business world! It’s not the dark side.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.