writing a business plan

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is off and running! Good luck and happy writing to all those participating, but I’m afraid I won’t be joining in the fun.

I view my desire to become a novelist as a career decision, and I’m sure a lot of the NaNoWriMo folks feel the same way about their writing. Since I have a full-time job, my writing is currently more of a part-time business and it takes a lot of my time. I consider my writing career the same as a start-up company and like any good company I need a business plan.

I’ve given myself an initial five-year plan. The rough sketch of the plan goes something like this:

Year 1 – write the novel (well, duh!); join writers’ organizations and begin networking;

Year 2 – begin building a web presence with a blog; investigate and join social networking sites; study the market;

Year 3 – develop a web site and begin marketing the manuscript for the first novel while working on the second novel;

Year 4 – will be devoted to marketing my novels and short stories;

Year 5 – inventory the business and evaluate whether more time is needed to fulfill the plan or if it’s better to stop.

So far, I’m a tad off schedule, but not overly much. I wrote the first draft of An Autumn Tale in six months; however, I also had more time to write then because I was home taking care of my husband after his surgery. If I’d been participating in my OWW critique group when I started, I would probably be finished now, although I am nearing the end of An Autumn Tale.

By utilizing outline techniques I’ve learned from visiting the blogs of published authors, the second novel, A Winter’s Garden, is starting to take shape. I’ve also started studying short stories in hopes of learning more about writing successful short stories, but completion of An Autumn Tale comes first. Then while I’m marketing An Autumn Tale to agents, I can work on the short story market and the completion of A Winter’s Garden.

My investments are all up front in terms of membership fees, paper, computer supplies, etc., not to mention the investment of my time in this project. Monday through Friday, I write every evening from 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. and devote more time to edits and working through troublesome scenes on weekends. I haven’t factored blog posts and OWW critiques into those hours, either.

I treat my writing time like a job and some nights it takes real discipline to sit down and write after a long day at work. In order to do this, I keep my eyes fixed on my goal, which is to have a solid writing career in place by the time I’m eligible for retirement from my full-time job.

The whole scheme is ambitious, and I may be an absolute failure as a novelist. So why bother? Well, I’ve learned a lot, and even if I never make it as a novelist, my communication skills have improved. I’ve met some really great people: editors, agents, and authors. These wonderful people have taught me innumerable things through their wit, determination, and their willingness to share their knowledge. So long as I’m learning, I’ve lost nothing.

Just like the folks who are joining NaNoWriMo have nothing to lose and everything to gain from their NaNoWriMo experience. I will miss the camaraderie of NaNoWriMo, but I’ll have to view the fun from the sidelines this year. I’ve got to get caught up with my own business plan, but who knows? Maybe next year . . .

Meanwhile, if you have a moment, tell me: are you joining NaNoWriMo? How do you view your writing – as a career or as a hobby? Do you have a business plan?

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About T. Frohock

Please visit my web site at: www.tfrohock.com
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6 Responses to writing a business plan

  1. Writing for me is a business in the sense that I treat it like a job. If I don’t take my writing seriously, who else will?
    I thought about jumping into the NaNoWriMo fray, but decided to stick with revising my first draft. That said, my goal is to have at 50k worth of rewrites and revisions by the end of Nov.
    I love this post! Having some kind of plan is crucial for most mortals. I find it keeps me focused and gives me milestones.

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Jonathan! It’s the only way I can keep my focus some nights. I’ve had days when I’ve questioned by sanity and why I’m doing this! 😉

      The goal helps me keep going some nights.

  2. Kelly Bryson says:

    Teresa- You approach things so differently than I do, and I love the way it reshapes my thinking. I am TRYING to be methodical and have a PLAN, but your plan kindof scares me- I wouldn’t want you to stop writing just because you didn’t get published- even if you go to a ten year plan. An Autumn Tale is a beautiful story, and I haven’t even read your polished versions. I want you to make money writing, to feel that your time is well-spent and valued, but does that really make writing worth it?

    I want to tell myself that the writing makes writing worth it. Perhaps I’m giving myself an easy out, so I won’t be devastated and quit if no one likes my novel. No more talk of “Evaluation” and “Inventory”, alright? Nevermind. You will anyway:)

    • Teresa says:

      Aww, Kelly, I’m printing that out as my first fan letter. *blush* 😉

      No kidding, what I’ll be evaluating is the money I’m spending in membership fees to writing organizations, web sites, etc., not whether or not I want to continue writing. However, if I’m not getting paid for my work, then I’ll definitely be going easier on myself in terms of time spent on my projects and the amount of money I spend. If things pan out and I do get published, then it will be in that five to ten year range.

      Don’t worry, I have no intention of not writing! I’ve already told my daughter I’d be leaving her a trunkful of novels.

  3. kat magendie says:

    It’s hard to say it is a “business” – but, it is; however, it only becomes a business when I am ready to publish, or after my first novel was published it then became a “product” – however, it is still something more to me, the writing is. A part of me. I have to separate the part of me who just loves to write from the part of me who has to be all business – or I should say, not separate, but allow those two parts of me to work together.

    • Teresa says:

      I think you have (once more) hit on it in your beautiful way. The two have to merge. I’m not writing An Autumn Tale because the market is screaming for this type of book, but because it is the story that found me. If I was really hammering to get published I’d be writing about teenage vampire angst. 😉

      I just love these characters and the story they’re telling. I want it to be polished not just for publication, but because I want people to enjoy the story for what it is — a story.

      Thank you so much for adding clarity to the topic, Kat! I don’t think I’ll ever stop telling tales and writing them down.

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