Thursday, December 14, 2006

Business Plans

Another year is coming to a close, and with the coming New Year it’s time for BookEnds to evaluate how the old year has gone and to make our plans for 2007.

When BookEnds first began in 1999 we started with something every business should have, a plan. Together Jacky and I sat down to take a look at what we wanted to do with BookEnds and our plan for how to make it work. And each year we pull out that business plan to see how things are going and what needs to change, because every year something needs to change. I imagine that BookEnds isn’t the only business spending a day in December evaluating a business plan and, if you haven’t caught my subtle hints yet, writers, whether published or not, are a business and every one of you should have a plan. Whether you treat it as formally as BookEnds does is up to you, but a well-thought-out plan can make all the difference between success and failure.

So for those of you without a plan, or who never thought to have one, why should you have one and how do you start? Unless you are looking for financing I don’t think a business plan needs to be that complicated; in other words, you don’t need to go and buy a book on how to formally write one, but I do think there are some key points that every plan should have:

1. Objectives—what are your goals for the year? Do you want to submit to agents? Finish two books? Earn a certain advance? Your objectives can include everything from career goals to buying a new computer or making more time to write. Think about all of your goals for the next year and write them down. Putting things on paper makes it all more real.

2. Long-Term Objectives—What are your ultimate goals? To be a New York Times bestseller? To win a RITA? To earn enough so you can quit your day job? Whatever they are, putting these on paper is a wonderful way to remind you of what you can achieve, one year at a time.

3. A Mission Statement—What are your goals as a writer? How do you want to distinguish yourself from others? To give an example, here is last year’s BookEnds mission statement (I already see where some changes might be made): To represent authors who write fiction and nonfiction books for an adult mass market audience. To stand out from other agencies for our hands-on editing and our friendly approach to authors, as well as our willingness to develop projects with authors and help authors develop their writing. To build a name for BookEnds in both the romance and mystery communities as well as in nonfiction as a powerful agency with strong connections, a discerning eye, and the ability to negotiate tough and fair contracts. Focus in nonfiction will be on books with an edge, new innovations in business, health, exercise, animal care, parenting, spirituality, women’s issues, self-help, and general lifestyle. Fiction will be single title and series titles in romance, mystery, literary fiction, women’s fiction, and suspense/thriller.

4. Keys to Success—While not necessary, I think this section can really help you during those times when you start to wonder if you’re good enough, smart enough, or even capable. We all have those moments. What is it about you and your writing that will help you succeed in this business? Are you persistent? Do you have a wonderful knack for dialogue? And what can you do to help ensure success? Remain active in writing groups? Stay on top of market trends? What do you think you need to do to succeed?

5. Financial Plan—probably one of the most important and yet one of the most ignored pieces of the puzzle. Trying to get published and stay published is expensive, so make a plan. What are your financial goals—how much do you want to make next year? How will you make that money? Selling books, writing articles, or working at Target? How will your money be spent? Postage to agents? Internet access? Printing costs, publicity, promotion (you might want to break this down even further), phone, travel, conferences, research, dues/fees, etc? Take a look at this year after year and reevaluate. What is the best way to spend your money and how can you streamline.

So I’m off to meet with Jacky and discuss our business plan for 2007 and I’m excited. There’s nothing more thrilling than looking over last year’s plan to see how we met or exceeded goals and to challenge ourselves in the upcoming year. I hope you all take a day to write your own business plan. I’m looking forward to hearing what some of your objectives are for 2007.



Christine Wells said...

This is such a great idea. I've never been much of a planner but it's time to start! Thinking about some of my goals for next year--developing a killer promotion strategy for my first book is one--I realise there are many things I know I want, but am not entirely sure how to achieve. I'll have lots of questions for my agent in the new year:-) Jessica, you've created a monster!

Sally MacKenzie said...

My main goal for 2007 is to get more organized and more disciplined so I can write faster and more efficiently. (Stop laughing, Jessica.)

Zany Mom said...

Good idea! As I try to plan for an early retirement and a possible (pipe dream?) second career as a writer, this is a fabulous idea! Thanks for sharing.

Kate Douglas said...

This is a timely post! I had to change a lot of my plans this year, beginning with contacting my tax advisor. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision myself needing financial planning assistance because of my writing. Thank you, Jessica, for having a such a good plan, because it's certainly helped me meet my goals!

Jean said...

Thanks for the great post. I've already started thinking about what I want to accomplish next year and having a business plan will really help.

Now, off to ponder a mission statement:-)

BookEnds, LLC said...

Christine actually makes a very good point and one I should probably address in another post, but for those of you who do have an agent don't be afraid to include her in your business plan. Schedule time in the new year for a long phone conversation about your goals and objectives, what's realistic and what's not and what she might suggest you can do to help achieve them. She might also have suggestions on what you can add to your list.


Loralee said...

I've always been a list-maker -- just ask my kids -- so I do see the importance of planning ahead. Better yet, having an in-depth conversation with an agent to discuss reasonable goals for 2007 would make goal-setting in other areas much easier. Is this something each of you do with your clients?

Julia Templeton said...

Every December I make my list of goals for the new year, but I've never included a mission statement or financial goals. Great idea!

Anonymous said...

So what do you think about a writer making a goal to be published a ertain number of times? I find myself wanting to set goal, or the general one of "get and agent". Ultimately I feel that the market is to subjective and that making a goal like this only leads to a writer blaming themself for failure. Making goals such as "send out 20 query letters" or "polish {title} again" work much better. Or am I setting my goals too low?

BookEnds, LLC said...


I don't think there's anything wrong with giving yourself a time frame for publication, but you need to know how you will handle it. Are you the type of person to be driven by this or discouraged if it doesn't happen? If you're the type to get discouraged I'm not sure I'd set a goal that's so completely out of your control. I have a long-term goal to represent NY Times bestsellers (yes that's plural). It's something that's out of my control so I certainly don't put a time limit on it, but instead I make sure that the quality of the work I'm representing is increasingly better and that I can work with my authors for ultimate success.


Anonymous said...

What a great analysis of business plans. We're breaking a rule and featuring you again in the 12/15 AuthorMBA "Best of the Biz" report ( Please keep these gems coming!


Anonymous said...

豆豆聊天室 aio交友愛情館 2008真情寫真 2009真情寫真 aa片免費看 捷克論壇 微風論壇 大眾論壇 plus論壇 080視訊聊天室 情色視訊交友90739 美女交友-成人聊天室 色情小說 做愛成人圖片區 豆豆色情聊天室 080豆豆聊天室 小辣妹影音交友網 台中情人聊天室 桃園星願聊天室 高雄網友聊天室 新中台灣聊天室 中部網友聊天室 嘉義之光聊天室 基隆海岸聊天室 中壢網友聊天室 南台灣聊天室 南部聊坊聊天室 台南不夜城聊天室 南部網友聊天室 屏東網友聊天室 台南網友聊天室 屏東聊坊聊天室 雲林網友聊天室 大學生BBS聊天室 網路學院聊天室 屏東夜語聊天室 孤男寡女聊天室 一網情深聊天室 心靈饗宴聊天室 流星花園聊天室 食色男女色情聊天室 真愛宣言交友聊天室 情人皇朝聊天室 上班族成人聊天室 上班族f1影音視訊聊天室 哈雷視訊聊天室 080影音視訊聊天室 38不夜城聊天室 援交聊天室080 080哈啦聊天室 台北已婚聊天室 已婚廣場聊天室 夢幻家族聊天室 摸摸扣扣同學會聊天室 520情色聊天室 QQ成人交友聊天室 免費視訊網愛聊天室 愛情公寓免費聊天室 拉子性愛聊天室 柔情網友聊天室 哈啦影音交友網 哈啦影音視訊聊天室 櫻井莉亞三點全露寫真集 123上班族聊天室 尋夢園上班族聊天室 成人聊天室上班族 080上班族聊天室 6k聊天室 粉紅豆豆聊天室 080豆豆聊天網 新豆豆聊天室 080聊天室 免費音樂試聽 流行音樂試聽 免費aa片試看A片 免費a長片線上看 色情貼影片 免費a長片 本土成人貼圖站 大台灣情色網 台灣男人幫論壇 A圖網 嘟嘟成人電影網 火辣春夢貼圖網 情色貼圖俱樂部 台灣成人電影 絲襪美腿樂園 18美女貼圖區 柔情聊天網 707網愛聊天室聯盟 台北69色情貼圖區 38女孩情色網 台灣映像館 波波成人情色網站 美女成人貼圖區 無碼貼圖力量 色妹妹性愛貼圖區 日本女優貼圖網 日本美少女貼圖區 亞洲風暴情色貼圖網 哈啦聊天室 美少女自拍貼圖 辣妹成人情色網 台北女孩情色網 辣手貼圖情色網 AV無碼女優影片 男女情色寫真貼圖 a片天使俱樂部 萍水相逢遊戲區 平水相逢遊戲區 免費視訊交友90739 免費視訊聊天 辣妹視訊 - 影音聊天網 080視訊聊天室 日本美女肛交 美女工廠貼圖區 百分百貼圖區 亞洲成人電影情色網 台灣本土自拍貼圖網 麻辣貼圖情色網 好色客成人圖片貼圖區 711成人AV貼圖區 台灣美女貼圖區 筱萱成人論壇 咪咪情色貼圖區 momokoko同學會視訊 kk272視訊 情色文學小站 成人情色貼圖區 嘟嘟成人網 嘟嘟情人色網 - 貼圖區 免費色情a片下載 台灣情色論壇 成人影片分享 免費視訊聊天區 微風 成人 論壇 kiss文學區 taiwankiss文學區