Refresher Course. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 1 – Work Your Butt Off. I told you about a high time I had with a long table full of clients back in my agent days. High in every respect because we were in a revolving restaurant at the top of a fancy hotel. And I got there by working my butt off.
Refresher Continued. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 2 – Do Everything Right. I told you about doing something crucial very wrong – my first lunch with an editor. Thank heaven she was a compassionate soul or I’d have made an even bigger fool of myself than I did. BUT I never let myself play the fool again.
Now we’re at Step 3. Which takes me back to the beginning when I had the wild idea to become a literary agent – my previous profession before becoming a full-time writer. Please forgive me if I digress to tell you where that brainstorm bright light epiphany idea came from.
I’d been enjoying a good run as an in-house book editor. I edited mystery novels – intense and demanding – no loose ends allowed. And Regency Romance novels – fun fun and more fun. So I had a good work balance going. Except for one thing. I was employed as an editor but I had the soul of a writer.
An editor’s job is to serve the interests of the publisher she works for. High – perhaps highest – among those interests is contract negotiation. The editor is supposed to get the writer to sign on the line for the least money and the most punitive terms possible. Sorry if that offends anyone. I don’t edit or write for a publishing house any more so I can be straight-from-the-hip all the way.
My main personal problem as an editor was my gift for contract negotiation. For some reason – probably my genetic gift of gab – I could whittle authors and their agents down down and down some more. But I didn’t like myself for doing it. So I decided to switch teams and use my negotiating skills on behalf of writers instead.
Then somebody told me I needed a Business Plan. “Why do I need a business plan?” I asked. “In case you have to go to the bank for a business loan,” was the answer. I couldn’t imagine wanting to deal with a bank that would trust me with their money at that tenuous point in my agent life. But I worried myself over the plan thing anyway.
I bought books at my favorite indie store – long-since gone. I researched in the library. This was back when we still did that. I checked out the internet too. What I found were basically templates and templates didn’t say much to me about what I wanted to accomplish in my career.
The truth was – at that point – I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to accomplish in my career. That lack of knowledge became the saving and the making of me as a businesswoman. I didn’t lock myself into specifics because I had no idea what they should be.
A single sentence popped into my head. “Let’s see how far I can go.” I wrote it on a sheet of paper and hung it on my office wall. That sentence turned out to be the brainstorm bright light epiphany I needed because it made all of what came afterward an adventure.
Granted I worked my butt off and enjoyed the successes and hotel-top parties that brought me. I also did my best to do everything right and when I fell sort I learned and changed tactics. The same way I changed tactics after my editor lunch debacle. Beyond that I kept the future open and my Velcro grasp at the ready to latch onto every opportunity that came my way.
Plus – I kept on keeping on in the direction of how far I could go at the fastest pace I could manage. Because – like the Road Runner – I know that Wile E. Coyote is back there. And even though he may not be so wily – coyotes have teeth.
I leap into my new adventure as a full-time writer with all of that in mind. If you asked me what you should do I’d advise the same. Let’s all of us simply See How Far We Can Go. My experience tells me we’ll be in for a happy surprise.
My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launches with summer on June 22nd. as my 13th novel. Let’s see how far it can go. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.