Planning for Fiscal 2016 – Writing is a Business

CindyCarrollEIn July I was planning for NaNoWriMo so of course I’m planning for next year’s business goals in September. Despite how much I love writing it is a business. With a goal of writing full-time one of these days I have to treat it like a business because eventually it will be my only source of income. When you self publish you are a business. A lot remain sole proprietors, some decide for tax reasons to incorporate. No matter what way you go you should consult an accountant. At this stage in my writing business my accountant advised me to remain a sole proprietor.

 

In preparing for this post I looked at my business plan for last year and realized I am sadly behind in everything I’d planned for 2015. That’s the first lesson. If you have a business plan pull it out and look at it at least quarterly to see how on track you are. I created it last year and forgot about it. For the 2016 business plan I will print it out and keep it handy in my office so I can glance at it monthly to make sure I’m on track and adjust it as needed. It’s a living document and will change as opportunities come up. I also realized I didn’t even create a scorecard or fiscal targets spreadsheet for 2015. That could be another reason I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped this year. Though I did do better than 2014 when I had no business plan.

 

 

My yearly scorecard - numbers are just examples

My yearly scorecard – numbers are examples

Why should you have a business plan? Because writing is a business. Other businesses have business plans, fiscal targets, advertising budgets, a balance sheet to keep track of how the business is doing. I have to admit I love the business side of writing as much as I love the writing part. If you can major in a subject in high school for me it was business. And since graduating from high school I’ve always been in a job that involved finance of some kind – banking and payroll. For my scorecard and fiscal targets I copied one of my employers. They update us quarterly with how the company is doing so I took the look of their tools and adapted them to my writing business. For the business plan I found a template online that I could tweak for my own needs. A lot of it didn’t apply to me since I supply stories that are primarily available in online stores. But it works. Or, it will work for me when I start using it more.

FiscalTotals2016This past week I’ve been thinking about my goals for next year. I guess targets is more accurate since for goals you need to have control over them. And my targets (for sales, followers and email list sign ups) are not in my control. The only thing I can truly control is my output. I’ve set up a schedule for getting a lot of writing done, taking 10,000 words off from every monthly target to account for days I don’t write at all when life takes over. If I stick to the plan I will have a lot of stories I can put up for sale. But those stories need professional covers and professional editing. The business plan takes that into account and any money I make on book sales goes back into the business so I can pay for the business. I do have a clause in the plan to pay myself a small amount a month if possible but funding the business comes first. The great thing right now is that I have a day job. So all money from the business can go back into it if need be.

BusinessPlanOne thing I realized this year (I knew it but I guess I was in denial) is that you do have to spend money to make money. This year I had better sales than last year by a lot. And it was all because I started advertising. Some ads were free, some were paid. But the advertising really helped get the new pen names out there. Now, for 2016 I am incorporating an advertising budget into the plan so I can have ads going every month to increase visibility of all my titles.

I’ve picked my book for NaNoWriMo this year. It will be the third book in the trilogy I’m writing. Looking at my 2015 business plan that trilogy was not only supposed to be written by now but it was supposed to be up for sale already. See what happens when you make plans but forget about them?

Writers – do you have a business plan?

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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest.

Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror. A curse that replaces people with their repressed alter egos forces the friends to fight for their lives. Duplicates who lack restraint, crave gratification emerge from the mirrors. Too late they realize they didn’t know each other as well as they thought.

One by one, Lena’s friends learn the truth about their repressed emotions, their suppressed violent urges.

What doesn’t kill them can only make them stronger.

Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1avH00L
Buy on Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/19Ti2ux
Buy on Kobo: http://bit.ly/13CBz9M
Buy on Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/15oFc4a

 

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About Cindy Carroll

Cindy Carroll is a member of Sisters in Crime and a graduate of Hal Croasmun’s screenwriting ProSeries. Her interviews with writers of CSI and Flashpoint appeared in The Rewrit, the Scriptscene newsletter, the screenwriting Chapter of RWA. She writes screenplays, thrillers, and paranormals, occasionally exploring an erotic twist. A background in banking and IT doesn’t allow much in the way of excitement so she turns to writing stories that are a little dark and usually have a dead body. When she’s not writing you can usually find her on Twitter.
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9 Responses to Planning for Fiscal 2016 – Writing is a Business

  1. Mike Staton says:

    About eight years ago I created a business plan and tried to do a freelance business writing technical stuff and feature stories. I’d just had the small company I worked for go under during the recession. I ended up getting hired by a local newspaper and becoming a reporter once again after 20 years. So the business plan was forgotten. Good luck with your endeavors, Cindy. Looks like you have a good grasp of what you need to do to make your writing a full-time endeavor. l was impressed reading your post.

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  2. Joe Stephens says:

    At this point, I spend so much more than I take in that I’d be sad to put it down on paper. But I really do need to treat this more like a business if I ever, like you, want to do it full time. My problem is that, for the school year, my job is almost like a full-time and a part-time job unto itself. I have little time to do anything but plan and grade. My newest book is coming out October 1 and I can’t even find a free day to have even a Facebook premiere party, so I don’t know what to do.

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  3. Wranglers says:

    I enjoyed your business plan. Thanks for sharing. You are so much more organized than I am. I have been thinking about a plan for 2016. Maybe wven the last part of 2015. I haven’t even checked for sales over the last few months. My life has been so busy, and my internet connections iffy. Thanks, Cher’ley

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  4. Doris says:

    I think you have it correct. Treating writing as a job, a business, is a good practice, but not one I follow very well. I applaud you your determination and wish you the best. Doris

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  5. Neva Bodin says:

    Very impressive! Even if you don’t follow it 100% you will be gaining on setting and following your goals I bet. Good plan and thanks for sharing. That is really helpful.

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  6. Travis says:

    Sometimes I come up with plans, but I rarely follow through. You seem very organized. Bravo Cindy!

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  7. wyoauthor1 says:

    Great insights, Cindy! I’ve not set up a business plan in the past, but I will do so for this next year as well. The past few years I’ve experienced a dramatic increase in my writing endeavors (mostly for magazines and newspapers, but that’s part of the writing business, too) — and I need to not do things so hodge-podge anymore. Thank you for the encouragement and tips! Best to you!!

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  8. sstamm625 says:

    Good luck with you business planning, Cindy. I have decided to leave the making a living to my day job. At least for now. Good for you!

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  9. I wish I was as organized as you. I try to be and have the best intentions to stick to a plan but then somehow I end up abandoning it along the way. So far, I don’t rely on my writing as a full-time business but when I do (and that day will come!) I will remember your detailed business plan. Thanks for the informative post, Cindy.

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