If the thought of creating a business plan for yourself makes you want to curl into a ball, you’re not alone. I have thus far avoided it, because, well, I have no clue what it would entail. But as my schedule becomes more and more crammed, I’m finding I need to do something. I need reminders of what I should be working on, what’s coming next, that sort of thing.
What I’m going to talk about below is what I think will work for me. You’re welcome to bogart parts for yourself.
Authors these days can’t just write (much to my eternal dismay). We have to write, edit, promote, and in some cases, design, format, and a whole bunch of other nitty gritty details. We need a social media presence, because otherwise, how are people going to hear about our books? We need to network with other authors, editors, agents, publishers, that guy down the street, the bartender, the plumber. There are many, many lists of what we should be doing as authors to sell our books. Really the only thing I’m good at, and the only one I’m interested in, is writing the next book to sell the previous book. Yup – backlist sells frontlist. The more titles you have available (especially in a series), the better your chances are at making a sale. This appears to especially true among romance readers. We do like to glom series. I mean, did I or did I not read the first four books in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series in four days?
I’ve said before I have this vague outline of releases, but it’s not written down anywhere. Part of this is because there are always moving parts. There’ll be a snafu, or I’ll change my mind, or…or…well, I am a little contrary. I may decide to release more rather than less. My 2016 schedule is already set:
The Perfect Man releases January 26, 2016
- Broken Down releases April 12, 2016
- Game of Shadows releases July 5, 2016
- Anthology story (tentatively titled Sultry) releases August 2016
- Game of Vengeance releases October 25, 2016
With 2016 squared away, I needed to turn my attention to 2017 and 2018. Yes, 2018. It’s really not as far away as you think it is. Since 2016 is going to be busy, I thought it might be a smart idea to scale back a bit for 2017. I came up with three releases for 2017, and then I turned to my trusty to-do app, Wunderlist.
While Wunderlist doesn’t have a home screen where I can group to-do lists and see them all at the same time, it does have two features that sort of work the way I want them to. The first is to pin various lists to your Start screen for Windows 8. I hate the original Start screen with a fiery passion (I installed StartMenu8 so I wouldn’t have to see it), so that wouldn’t work. But Wunderlist also allows you to create folders and group lists that way:
I created a 2017 folder and put the lists of projects I was either hoping to or planning to release in 2017. But there’s more than three titles there, you’re thinking. There’s a reason for that, and no, it’s not because I can’t count. Hey, I didn’t say it was a perfect system.
Learning Curve is book three in the Hidden Scars series. I put everything I could think of on the to-do list: formatting, drafting, editing, and the little details, like contacting my cover designer or putting the first book in the series on sale. Then I added due dates for some of the items (circled in red). My plan is to have the first draft done by November 1st. Learning Curve has a tentative release date of June 2017.
Assignation falls into the hope to release category. The first half of 2017 is already set – the last book in the Game of Shadows trilogy releases in January, and then Learning Curve will release in June. That leaves me with nothing for the second half. And I’d really, really like to have something else on my release schedule that isn’t self-published. That’s where Assignation comes in. It’s got an earlier due date than Learning Curve because the plan is to submit it to a couple of places (as noted by the “Submission queries” line). That item has a note in it of what places I might submit to. Then I added a sort of placeholder item: “Back up plan.” As in, what the fuck am I going to do with the story if no one wants it? There’s no notes or subtasks associated with it, but it’s a reminder that if by that due date I haven’t succeeded in selling the story to someone, I need to get my ass in gear and come up with something else.
That back up plan is necessary if you’re trying to be a hybrid author right from the start. I can’t guarantee that someone will want Assignation, or if they do, whether it will release when I want it to. Fortunately, that’s where All Through The Night comes in. A Christmas novella, it’s also my contingency plan. If my plans don’t shake out, I’ll be releasing that in October of 2017.
So why are Lie to Me and Jamie’s Story on there? And why the hell is the to-do list for Jamie’s Story blank?
Lie to Me doesn’t really fall into either category, but I need to have it my radar when I’m looking at my schedule for 2017. Same goes for Jamie’s story, which is not the actual title of the fourth Hidden Scars book. Eventually that list will have items on it (including a real title) and will be moved to the 2018 folder.
The end result here is part writing plan, part business plan. Knowing what I’ll be releasing and when alleviates some of the stress, though all the associated tasks just adds it right back on.
Part of the challenge of thinking that far ahead was deciding what to work on next, but that’s a whole ‘nother animal, and I’ll talk about it next week.