Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What to Do Now that the Holidays are Over

Sharon Wildwind

Here we are in 2013. If you’re like me, about December 20th, you started a list headed “After the Holidays,” as in “I’ll get to that after the holidays,” or “Let’s wait until after the holidays to tackle that.” As soon as you recover from last night’s celebration, and a surfeit of parades and football games, guess what, it’s after the holidays.

Which means for some of us, it’s time to face the dreaded Business Plan, or what to do in the next 12 months to grow as an author and businesswoman.

Last year, I wrote a one-page plan. Life was a tad overloaded, with retirement from my day job looming and temporary additional family responsibilities closing in from two directions. I figured if I could survive, reorganize, and reorient that would be plenty for the year.

It worked pretty well. I was surprised how much I could compress into one-page. If you’re struggling with your current business plan or have never made one and aren’t sure where to start, let me offer a suggestion for a possible template. It consists of two things: a pyramid-shaped diagram, listing 6 crutial areas and a few questions to ask yourself in each area.

If you’re familiar with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’re probably seen a diagram shaped like this.

What’s it’s all about is starting at the bottom to meet basic needs, and as those needs are met, move up to the next level.

The most basic need for those of us who write is to write. 

Name the books, plays, short stories, etc. that you want to write this year. If you don’t have a name yet, make up a work in progress name for it.

How often and how long do you want to write? For example, at least 7 hours of writing a week.

What deadlines do you already have to meet this year

What deadlines can you set for yourself?

Working up from the bottom, I’ve listed Adjusting My Compass Heading as second and Expanding the Circle as third. You might choose to reverse those, depending on your situation.

Adjust Compass Heading
It is a crazy world out there. Publishing is not only changing at an incredible rate, but it’s going off in all directions.

What do you already know about publishing?

What is the most crucial thing that you need to learn next?

Who can teach you that crucial thing?
Expand the Circle
Authors can’t survive without a support system. Who is yours

Name 3-5 people who are your positive support system. If you don’t have people like this in your life, what will you do to build those relationships.

Name 3-5 people who are a negative drain on your writing. What will you do this year to decrease their influence?

Manage the Business
This is the nuts-and-bolts of running a business. We all have to do some of this, like it or not.

Have you built your brand and your platform? Do they need tweaking?

What’s your marketing strategy?

Do you have a simple and sustainable business tracking system that is easy to update and gives you current information on business direction, statistics, and inventories?

Read/keep current
How will you balance using the inexhaustible supply of electronic resources without allowing allowing the electronic world to take over your life?

What other mystery authors do you plan to read?

What conventions and workshops do you plan to attend?

Grab the brass ring
Promise yourself that you will take advantage of unexpected opportunities and have fun.

That’s it, a business plan starter kit. Best wishes for the coming year.
Quote for the week:
Priorities are not written in granite. They need to be flexible and change as we do. I find it helpful to think of priorities as the wooden frame upon which we stretch the canvas of our days so that we may apply color and form to the work of art we are creating without the entire painting collapsing in the middle. ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, author


Julia Buckley said...

Thanks for this terrific, practical advice. I think I will use it, not only for my writing, but for some other resolution, as well.

Happy New Year, Sharon!

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Julia. Happy New Year to you, too.

Sarah Kades said...

Thank you Sharon for the excellent article. I've been circling around doing a business plan, this helps immensely.

Cheers and Happy 2013!