A 5 Year Writing Business Plan!

I’ve been writing ever since I could string letters together to form words, and it’s never stopped since. However, the big goal of some day making a living off my fiction writing has remained elusive.

For a long time, the problem was the quality of writing. I know that isn’t the problem any longer but instead a variety of other reasons. Reasons I refuse to let stop me any longer. So, with that in mind, this is the year to start treating writing like a business.

And when a business wants to get somewhere at some point down the line, what do they do? They build a business plan.

And that’s what I’ve done this year. Created a business plan for writing.

So, the big lifelong dream (here-forth referred to as the “Big Dream”) has always been to “Make a living off my fiction writing.” Might as well make it a great big dream if I’m going to be dreaming, anyway!

However, that’s too big of a goal to work towards. Too overwhelming, too big, too easy to give up on, too easy to go astray, too easy to ignore and hope it goes away. It is the mountain that we are hurting our neck to crane up to see. Nope, we can’t look at something that huge on a daily basis.

There needs to be little steps leading up to it.

5 Year Plan

Which brings us to a 5 year plan. This is an amount of time that is a bit long but also a bit short. But definitely viewable. One of the foothills instead of the mountain.

So, in 5 years, where would I like to be on the road to the Big Dream? I decided to be a bit ambitious with this, as well.

The 5 year plan is to sell 3 books.

Now, selling a book is pretty much out of an author’s control once they are finished with the writing, editing and revision. But, I can submit book after book in hopes that one hits the right person in the right publishing climate in the right mood at the right time. Let’s face it, a lot about publishing is pure dumb luck.

But, I can maximize my odds.

To do that I need to widen my options. Have a variety of work in various sub-genres to send out into the publishing arena. So, I’m going to take “3 books” and double that to come up with the number of 6 books to be written and revised within the space of 5 years. (Actually 4 years, as that 5th year should be heavy in the submitting, and any books written that year will be sent out in the 6th year.)

So, I need to write and revise 6 books in four year’s time.

That still sounds like a lot. At first, I thought I was being a little too ambitious.

However, once I did the math, it really wasn’t. Based on four writing/revising years that is 1.5 books a year which equals, on average, 120,000 new words a year (based on an average of 80,000 words a book).

Here is what I have already proven I can do (based on 2009):
July Nano: 100,000 words
November Nano: 150,000 words
Total: 250,000 words (about 3 books a year)

That means with only two Nano months a year I have MORE than my required number of new words.

Or, another way of looking at it: I want to take half the year for revision only. That would mean I would only need to write 667 words a day for 180 days to write 1.5 books a year.

This is so doable that it’s ridiculous.

So, next step down is that I need to write, revise and polish at least 1.5 books a year.

For revision, I am doing two things. First is working up a process for myself that works efficiently and effectively for how I work and write. The second is actively learning all I can by taking Holly Lisle’s intensive “How to Revise Your Novel” class (the sign-up for the 2010 class ends January 9) as well as studying the revision section of Zette’s free “2 Year Novel” course (the sign-up for the 2010 class ends January 8), plus miscellaneous books and internet information. Even without these I’ve managed to revise one book in 5-6 months. After learning more, this should grow in efficiency.

The One Year Plan

Now I’m taking this down even further down from 5 years. We’re moving to the yearly level. Unlike 5 years, this is a much more manageable time-frame that isn’t quite so overwhelming.

From the math above, I know that to reach the 5 Year Goal, I need to write and revise at least 1.5 books a year. Well, to help increase my odds just a bit, I’m taking that to 2 whole books a year. If I don’t get two books a year finished, that’s no problem. Just so long as it’s above 1.5.

And I am taking this down even further to the monthly level. With how I write using the various Nano’s, here is a basic month-to month plan. Notice how it wraps around the beginning of the year, basically starting on the July of each year for the first draft of Book 1. Book 1 then ‘rests’ while other revision and outlining is done, not to be touched until the end of November when book 2 is written:

Jan – Revising Book 1
Feb – Revising Book 1 – Outlining
Mar – Revising Book 1 (National Novel Editing Month)
Apr – Revising Book 1 & 2
May – Revising Book 2 – Submission Starts
Jun – Revising Book 2 – Outlining
JulJulNoWriMo – First Draft of Book 1
Aug – Revising Book 2 – Outlining
Sep – Revising Book 2 – Outlining
Oct – Nano Preparation – Outlining – Submission Starts
NovNaNoWriMo – First Draft of Book 2
Dec – Revising Book 1

The above calendar gives each book a time to have the first draft written as well as giving it time to ‘rest’ before it is taken up for revision. Each book gets 4 1/2 to 5 months of revision time.

Then comes the nail-biting phase. Pushing the little darlings out of their comfy home to find a place out in the publishing world!

Submitting is a daunting project all on its own. To help it feel a little bit more fun and not so agonizing, I’ve joined the “2010 Great Acceptance/Rejection Contest” at Forward Motion Writers. You get points for novels and short story rejections, acceptances, queries, and the like. The whole goal is to see how high of a number you can get. And with earning points whether there is an accept or reject, you can’t lose! Well, except if you never submit in the first place.

Personally I’m hoping for more than 2 points the very first year. 😉

The past two years have been a huge learning curve for me. But, the above is all based on what I have proven to already be within my capabilities. That’s why I did the writing math. To prove this isn’t beyond myself. I’m already writing more books each year than I would need in order to reach the 5 year goal (3-4 books now compared to the 1.5 required by the 5 Year Plan). That thrilled me to pieces when I figured that out!

And there it is. A solid plan from the big to the small to work my way to the Big Dream while not getting overwhelmed with it. Taking the Big dream and slicing it down into smaller and smaller pieces. Finding the resources and training to help me along the way. It will take work and dedication, but breaking it down makes all of it so much more accessible.

Onwards towards the Big Dream!

Anyone else have a writing business plan thought out?

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3 thoughts on “A 5 Year Writing Business Plan!

  1. You go! I hear you on breaking down those goals. So much easier to keep in the chair if you have a goal for today and you know how it affects the big picture. Looking forward to seeing you in print!

  2. I used your “template” for my own 5 Year plan. And I can’t wait to see you in print. I’ll be like: “I so know this author and she’s the bomb!” 😉 Love ya and good luck!

  3. Pingback: Goal Setting For Writers – Do YOU Have one? | JA Marlow

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