Use the Muse to Write Your Business Plan

Are you overwhelmed with the “business” aspect of writing? Do you even have a business plan? I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what I was getting into when I began this journey seven or eight years ago. What I’ve learned since then should have equated to at least a Masters Degree in something! Yet, writing a business plan has remained on my to-do list for years. Why? Because every business plan model I’ve ever seen is filled with language I don’t understand or information that appears to have no bearing on the business of writing. Until NOW!

PJ Sharon here, visiting today with Amy Denim, who writes business books for writers and pens contemporary romances in her spare time. She loves hot heroes (like chefs and cowboys) and curvy intelligent heroines (like chefs and cowgirls.) She’s been a franchise sales coordinator, a lifeguard, a personal shopper, and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. But now she spends her days reading and writing at her local library or in her book cave.

Amy started out her writer’s life scared out of her wits because she didn’t have a business plan, hadn’t yet created an online platform, wasn’t on twitter, didn’t have a Facebook fan page, and had never even heard of Goodreads. Sound familiar? She just wrote books. So

AmyDenim-for-webshe spent a year becoming a publishing industry information fiend and now does consulting for creatives on how to take control of their writing careers. She started Coffee Break Social Media to help writers and artists learn to use SM (social media) platforms effectively (without the scare tactics) but still have time to create. She believes business plans and social media can be every writer’s friend, sometimes they just need an introduction.

Welcome to the Scribes Amy! I’ve been reading your book, THE COFFEE BREAK BUSINESS PLAN, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to get started on creating one for myself! Can you share with our readers how you’ve found a way to use your muse, activate both sides of your brain, and give us a peak into what they can expect in your book?

I’d be happy to, PJ. Thanks for having me today. I would like to start by asking the question, have you thought about putting together a business plan? “But, oh,” you say. “It’s such a long and complicated process.” Ugh. Why bother, when you could spend your valuable time writing.

But, wait, what’s this? A guide to help authors write a business plan on coffee breaks?

Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans copy

Okay, so I find when things get boring and staid that some humor and creativity makes it all so much more fun. And let’s admit that a traditional business plan is anything but fun. But having one can be an important part of taking control of your writing career.

Never fear, we’ll start with your creative side.

The first part of writing a business is often to put together a mission statement. Doesn’t that sound super, umm, boring? Yeah, I thought so too.

So I transformed this dull, no fun task into something I could relate to. I understand the muse. Well…when she’ll talk to me. Best way to get her feeling chatty is to strait up ask her for help. I asked her to help me write something to keep me inspired about my writing career.

Here’s what she told me.

Write one or two sentences that sum up you and your goals for a successful writing career. Think of this as your mantra, or the logline for your writing career. Your books have loglines, why shouldn’t you?

Whenever you’re stuck, feeling down about writing or getting published, or need a jump start to your day, get this sentence back out and see if it doesn’t get your imagination running again.

Try to give your muse value. That can mean financial value, but can also be personal values — like family or life philosophies. If being able to support your family financially is an important value to you, include that. If you need to write just to stay sane, include that. If it’s important that your friends and family are proud of you, say that. These are your core beliefs as they relate to your writing career. Include them in your muse statement so that it is valuable to you.

The name of the muse game is inspiration. If you think it, you believe it. If you believe it, you are it. If you use the present simple tense, i.e. I am instead of I want, I will be, or I can, then you’re one step closer to believing you are the writer of your dreams. Another part of inspiration is to use those big dream goals. If you want to be a best-selling author, include that in your muse statement. Whatever your true aspirations are, use them here.

Okay, put your thinking cap/top hat/beanie with the helicopter rotor /tiara on. It’s time to think about what you really want from your writing career.

Here’s an example:

I am a financially successful author who shares award-winning stories of love and adventure with readers around the world.

Be even more specific, and make your goals attainable and measurable. Now try your hand at writing your own. Your muse statement can go through lots of drafts and incarnations. If you add a new dimension to your business plan, you might need to update your statement.

You can have more than one mission statement, too. If you find creating a mission statement motivational, consider creating them for different parts of your life and career. You can have one for your writing career, your marketing efforts, your financial goals, your family life, spiritual life, your health, or anything else that is important to you.

The following questions are to get you started thinking about your goals, but don’t go crazy and spend hours making lists and/or daydreaming about your success as a writer.

I call this the Coffee Break Business Plan. This is all about basic goals, which you can expand on to create a full-blown business plan, so spend only a few minutes thinking about each of these questions. Write a couple of sentences to answer them, or make yourself a nice bullet-point list. If you’d like a template to print out to help you with this exercise, you can download one at www.coffeebreaksocialmedia.com/Books/Resources.

 Grab a cup of coffee and a pen

Write down the answers to these questions.

  • How many books do you plan to write? In what genre?
  • What’s your projected word count?
  • When will you finish each project? Or, how much time will you need to complete each project? (Don’t forget to build in time for critiques, beta readers, editing, and all those other activities… besides actually writing the book.)
  • How will you publish these books? Traditionally, self-published, a hybrid approach?
  • If you’re self-publishing, what services will you need and how much will you spend on those?
  • Who is your competition? Who else writes books like yours?
  • How will you sell and market your books?
  • How much money will it cost you to publish and market? What services might you pay for to help you do that?
  • How much money do you plan to make, and when will you see that revenue?
  • When do you plan to achieve these goals?

There you go. You just created a basic business plan. For real. Laminate that sucker and put it up big and pretty in front of your computer. Every time you sit down to write, take a look and focus on writing to achieve those goals. If the IRS comes knocking, you can wave it in their faces.

If you’d like help expanding your business plan, I can help with that too. Leave a comment on the blog today, ask questions about business plans, mission statements, or anything else you’d like, and one lucky commenter will win a copy my new book The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Authors: The Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Control of Your Writing Career. But, if you can’t wait to win it, it’s available now on Amazon.

Thanks, Amy! And here’s my review of this little gem:

Amy Denim takes the mystery and fear out of writing a business plan.

As a writer, my right creative brain is clearly dominant, making things like business plans and marketing strategies sound like foreign languages. Amy Denim’s step-by-step guide, which focuses on business plans specifically for writers, is set up to be done in small increments…literally on a coffee break. She makes the process simple and totally do-able. Her clear, concise, and entertaining style makes this a must-read for anyone considering writing as a business. Highly recommend!

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30 thoughts on “Use the Muse to Write Your Business Plan”

  1. Very helpful information! I took a class at the local Chamber of Commerce and wrote a formal business plan when I first started up Seraphim Press, but most of those goals were legal-related ones (apply for permits, get tax id’s, open bank accounts, set up accounting procedures, etc…). I of course grossly underestimated how much time I would spend writing, editing and marketing each book or how much it would cost to get my book out to readers. It was nice to do an update that focused on how long to write each book and edit it up.

    1. You’re way ahead of me, Brenda! I’m afraid I wasn’t as organized in the beginning, but I’m still learning and growing and the business side is coming together for me…guess it’s never too late:-)

    2. Anna,
      Good on you for taking charge from the get go! I think most of us underestimate the time we need to write our books and actually get them to press. Thus, I’m a big fan of the production schedule. I just did my own for this year and man am I glad I did. I’d guesstimated in my brain that I had about six months worth of projects, but boy was I wrong! If I really push myself I can get it all done by, oh, next January. Phew. Good thing I have a business plan. 🙂

  2. What great timing! I was sitting down the other day to write my goals, and I realized that some concrete guidance would be helpful! Thank you for the tips. And for making me aware of the book. Have a MAGIC 2014!! 🙂

  3. This post eased my mind a little. I’m planning to release my debut (self-publishing) on June 15th and I have thought about many of these points already so, yay! There, clearly, are many more point I’ve just sort of waved at in passing. I do see the value in writing everything down though if only to ease the load on my already-cluttered brain.

    1. You’re ahead of the game, Shawn. So few authors even think about most of these kind of things before their debut. Well done. You’ll be even happier you have a business plan after your release when everything really goes crazy!

  4. I remember learning about business plans in my MBA program (they seemed overwhelming at the time). I appreciate this reminder of their importance for any business endeavor (not just corporations) and the succinct starter outline provided here. Makes it actually seem possible! LOL Thanks for sharing!

  5. Paula, as usual your blog is filled with important information. Thanks for your wise suggestions. I have written enough business plans, and at this point of my life, am exempt.

  6. Thanks for this! I spent the month of December re-creating my writing career, because after five years I was still plodding along in the lower-list ranks. I wasn’t treating it like a *career*, even with hubby’s encouragement to do so, and even though at the end of August I quit my wage-paying job to write full time.
    So in December, I wrote a one-page “definition” of each of my pen names: who they are as people, what their interests and beliefs are, and most importantly, what they write. I ended up adding a *third* pen name to the two I already had, to cover some subgenres that didn’t fit.
    I also wrote a one-page definition of my career as a whole, including a mission statement and one-year, five-year, and ten-year goals. And then I broke the one-year goals into concrete, measurable steps.
    Writing can be a fun hobby… but if you want it to become your business, unfortunately, you have to treat it as such.

    1. Jo,
      You go, writer! Big woots to your business planning. If you need any resources, like templates for tracking your word count, your sales or your budget to help keep you on track I have free downloadables on the my website for you. Good luck this year!

    1. Nikki,
      You’re exactly where most authors are. There’s not enough of us talking about the business of being a writer so almost everyone goes into this blindly. I’m glad you’re here with us now. Be sure to let me know if I can help with your new business plan!

  7. I’m being hit with my need to get concrete about a business plan from all sides. Looks like I gotta get with it. Thanks, Amy, for another push and a great place to start.

    1. Jan,
      If you’re getting hit from all sides to do a business plan (and you’re here on the blog today) I think the Fates (and maybe the Muses) are conspiring for you!
      Hope the post (and the book) help you get it done!
      Let me know if you need any advice when you’re working on it.

  8. Thanks Amy and P.J for the info. I don’t have a business plan. In fact, it kind of scares me Sort of like when I submit my stories. What happens if it doesn’t work? What if I don’t finish what I expected to accomplish? What does it mean if it or I fail? Ah sheesh, I’m a mess tonight. lol

    1. Hi Donna. We’ve all been there. I’ve been in business for a more than a few years and you can get by for a while without a business plan. But I’m guessing that my chances for success will only be improved by organizing my thoughts and having some clear direction. Aimee’s book makes writing a business plan make perfect sense and seem easy peasy. Even answering the above questions can be a great start. The only failure here is failure to try IMO. Courage is about being afraid and doing it anyway. Just imagine you are one of the kick ass heroines you write about. Would she shy away from writing a little ol business plan. I THINK NOT!

    2. Donna, I’m with PJ on this one. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. First of all, your business plan needs to have some fluidity to it. If one of your goals isn’t working the way you expected than revise it. Secondly, a big part of a business plan is evaluating it at the end of every year to see what worked and what didn’t. It’s totally okay if something didn’t work the way you planned, half of success is learning from when you fail. If we don’t try we can’t succeed and all that. Let your plan inspire you to go get ’em, not fear. I believe you can do it, now it’s your turn!

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