Writers In The Storm is delighted to welcome back Susan Spann with another amazing post covering all the legal bits of information we writers need to know. Susan has delved into everything from publishing choices to a quick overview of an author business plan.
Today? She’s going in deep! Enjoy…
One Bite at a Time: for Eating Whales and Writing Author Business Plans
by Susan Spann
The old joke asks, “Do you know how to eat a whale? – One bite at a time!”
The same advice holds true for writing an author business plan. As a whole, the idea may seem daunting, but once we break the process down writing a plan becomes not only manageable but a useful writing tool.
Today, we’ll look briefly at each section of a successful one-book business plan. In October, we’ll talk about writing synopses and creating effective timelines. November’s guest post looks at marketing, and we’ll wrap the series up in December with comparative analysis and financial factors.
Follow along, and you can start the new year with an author business plan of your own!
As I mentioned last month, the author business plan has seven sections, and the plan we’re writing focuses on a single book rather than the writer’s whole career.
1. The Business Plan Summary comes first but I normally recommend authors write it last, since it basically summarizes the rest of the plan.
For now, jot down a few notes about your book – your genre, one-sentence logline, and a couple of goals you hope to achieve. Eventually, the summary will contain a half-page synopsis of your novel and a summary of your entire business plan, including your genre, target audience, and other “at-a-glance” relevant facts. For now, though, notes will do.
2. The Book Description contains a synopsis of the book. Mine actually contain a pair of synopses – the one-page version and the two-page version. If you haven’t written your novel yet, it’s OK to create a placeholder – a brief summary of your story that you can replace with a synopsis after you finish the book.
3. Marketing Strategies involves three distinct sub-sections: pre-release marketing, week phase, and “post-release” – for marketing efforts after the release phase ends. We’ll explore this topic in detail in November.
4. Competitive Analysis involves examination of similar works in the marketplace, analyzing why readers will (or should) want your book instead of (or in addition to) the other options, and brainstorming strategies to maximize your advantages and minimize your weaknesses.
5. Development Timelines help keep the author and the work on track.
All authors will need a schedule for writing and editing the work itself. Authors pursuing traditional publication (but still in need of an agent and publisher) will want a second timeline for obtaining representation, and independent authors will need a timeline for the production and publishing process. Marketing timelines are also useful. We’ll talk more about timelines, and how to write them, in October.
6. The Operations and Management Plan describes who will handle specific parts of the writing, publication, promotion and sales process. In an author’s business plan, this section may be simple or very complex, depending on the author’s needs and the publishing path the work will take.
7. Budgets and Financial Factors round out the business plan. As with operations and management, this portion may be simple or complex, depending on the author’s plans and past experience.
In a panic? Don’t be! Business plans take work but they’re not as difficult as they seem.
We’ll walk through the sections together, step by step, and by December you’ll see that anyone can put together an effective author business plan.
Do you have comments? Questions? Looking for more information? Please let me know in the comments – I’m here to help and I love to hear from you!
Susan Spann is a publishing attorney and author from Sacramento, California. Her debut mystery novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Thomas Dunne Books, July 2013), is the first in a series featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori. Susan blogs about writing, publishing law and seahorses at http://www.SusanSpann.com. Find her on Twitter @SusanSpann or on Facebook.