Tag Archives: Writing Business

How Far You Can Go – A Writer’s Business Plan Step 3 – Orr What Wednesday

Road Runner imageRefresher 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.

RR

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.

 

Writer’s Business Plan Step #1 – Orr What? Wednesdays

Hard Working Woman imageWhen I started the literary agency that was my last profession before becoming a full-time writer – somebody told me I had to have a Business Plan.

I wrestled with that for a long time. I read books on business plans. I did internet research. The suggestions I found all felt too dry and bloodless for what I was embarking upon. I was beginning an adventure.

So I settled on a single sentence. “Let’s see how far I can go.” I still stand by that sentence. But my experience of running a successful agency taught me this. There’s more to getting where you want to go than that one thing.

Now I’ve leapt into a new professional adventure and I need a new Business Plan. I look back on my former experience and ask myself this question. “What was my finest moment and what made that moment happen?”

The moment memory comes easily. A scene at a national writers’ conference. I’m hosting a client dinner at the top of the conference hotel. Solid windows all around and a revolving floor. The wait staff know it’s to be an evening of endless champagne. We’re celebrating 24 clients nominated for national awards.

I look around at everybody laughing and chatting and ask myself this question. “How can it possibly get better than this?” That was an apex of accomplishment for me. What made it happen? One answer to that shouts out loud and clear. I worked my you-know-what off.

This answer transfers seamlessly to my current adventure as not only a full-time writer but a full-time independently published author too. This is possibly the fullest plate I’ve faced in all of my working life. I’m an entrepreneur again.

How did I manage that so well in my agent days? To some degree I made it up as I went along the same way I make up stories now. Some up-front planning. Then I stay flexible and take advantage of inspiration and opportunities when they come my way.

I also studied everything I could find about the publishing business. Now I study book marketing. I feel close to overwhelmed sometimes by how much there is to learn. But I keep on studying anyway. Plus I try new things and use my ingenuity.

I succeed sometimes. Other times I fall short.  A Japanese proverb tells us to Fall down seven times – Get up eight. I’m far past those numbers now but I keep on falling down and getting up again. I pray I can continue to do that.

All of which amounts to Step #1 of the Writer’s Business Plan. We work our you-know-whats off.

RR

My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. Next is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launching with summer on June 22nd. These are my 12th and 13th novels and I worked my you-know-what off on both of them. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

 

All Scarlett All the Time – Orr What? Wednesday

Scarlett O’Hara was a bad influence on the way I experienced real life romance in my younger days. A dark growling brute carries you to bed and pretty much rapes you. So you fall straight off in love with him. My first marriage got me over that screwed up way of thinking because I’d pretty much found that brute. Which wasn’t the least bit romantic after all.

On the upside – Scarlett will never stop being a positive influence on my romScarlett O'Haraance with life. My favorite Gone With the Wind scene isn’t the one where Rhett hefts Scarlett up the wide staircase with her red dressing gown trailing. The truly indelible scene for me is at the end of the first act just before the Intermission. I’ll bet you remember it too. Who could forget?

Scarlett stands on a hillside as daylight fades. She faces the devastated landscape of what was once her beautiful Tara. In the distance she sees the war ravaged wreck of the gracious antebellum mansion where her story began. She was beautiful then too with her waft waist and ivory complexion and perfectly coiffed hair. Now she’s ravaged too. But she is not devastated.

Scarlett balls her fist tight as she clutches what looks like a grimy radish root. She’s taken a bite of this filthy root then spat it out. With the vile taste of defeat in her mouth she finds what she will need to raise herself up from this rock bottom moment and the patch of scruffy earth where she now stands. She lifts her fist toward heaven and cries out.

“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

The first time I heard that I knew instantly what it was – a warrior cry. Even as a little girl I understood somehow that this was the spirit I would need in life – a warrior spirit. I was exactly right about that because it is the spirit we all need. We must be warriors on behalf of ourselves if we are to rise above our own inevitable scruffy-dirt-patch experiences.

What Scarlett failed to recognize of course is that one of the most effective ways of lifting ourselves is to lift others also. To become warriors on behalf of one another. Especially on behalf those whose fingers are trembling too badly at the moment to make a fist and brandish it at heaven. We take hold of their shaking fingers. We lift them high with ours and cry out.

“As God is my witness, we’ll never be defeated again, because we’ll never be alone again.”

So – we must work our fingers until they are strong and able. We don’t need a squashy ball either. Life offers lots of opportunity to exercise muscles of resistance. We practice making tight fists by shaking them at every obstacle in our path. We grow our own version of Scarlett’s warrior spirit and have it at the ready as we strike out toward each new scary challenge.

And if the pushback pushes back too hard at times and we have to go to ground for a bit. We simply say. “Fiddle dee dee. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Because tomorrow is another warrior spirit day.

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 My latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series  –  Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 12th novel and – believe me – it took a warrior spirit to get here.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com