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Leah Cutter sold her first short story back in 1997, and continues to write and sell her fiction. She currently runs three business in Seattle: her fiction writing business, a small press, and a vacation rental. She's also lived all over the world and held the requisite odd writer jobs, such as doing archaeology in England, teaching English in Taiwan, and bar-tending in Thailand.

Her fiction includes literary, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror fiction. She has a number of novels in print, plus she's been published in major magazines and anthologies.

Read more books by Leah Cutter at www.KnottedRoadPress.com.

Follow her blog at www.LeahCutter.com.

BFB Vol. 5: Business Planning for Professional Publishers by Leah Cutter

So. You'd like to take your publishing business to the next level, and want to create a business plan to help you get there.

But all of those stupid business books make no sense. They were not written for you.

The writers of those books mean well. But they're talking to other business types and MBAs.

If you hate spreadsheets, and have problems understanding business books, this one (and this series!) may be just what you need.

Be sure to read all the books in this series:

Volume 1: The Beginning Professional Writer
Volume 2: The Beginning Professional Publisher
Volume 3: The Beginning Professional Storyteller
Volume 4: The Intermediate Professional Storyteller
Volume 5: Business Planning for the Professional Publisher
Volume 6: The Healthy Professional Writer
Volume 7: The Three Act Structure for Professional Writers

CURATOR'S NOTE

Leah Cutter has written a series of lovely and important books for writers in her Business For Breakfast Series. I think this one, Business Planning For the Professional Publisher, is one of the most important. Now that indie and self-publishing have become popular, writers often stumble into their publishing business. Leah's little book prevents a lot of those stumbles and helps writers become the best publishers they can be. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

 
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

I've run successful businesses, plural, for years.

Yet, I've never had a business plan. Not for any of them. Not until recently.

Why?

Because trying to create all the stupid things that the stupid f@#$%g MBAs tell you must be part of your business plan have always stopped me.

It wasn't until recently that I figured out they were lying.

Or rather, that they were talking to other MBAs. To people like themselves. To that very small minority of writers who actually like spreadsheets.

The rest of us were just screwed.

Until now.

Bastards.

Let me back up and tell you about my first breakthrough. There were several, and they kind of piled one on top of the other. I'll get to them in later chapters.

I attended the Master Publishing Workshop offered by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, M.L. Buchman, and Allyson Longueira, in October 2016, in Lincoln City, OR.

The first breakthrough came when Kris mentioned that she'd been trained as a reporter. That meant that every day, she walked into some random event at work. She never knew what she would be doing on any given day. She partially blames that training for her butterfly brain.

That was a real ah ha moment for me. When I applied the concept of "being trained by the day job" to myself, it explained so much about myself and my processes.

I worked as a technical writer for decades. The software companies I worked for generally released new versions of the software every quarter or so.

That meant that every three to four months, I started something new. Either I moved to a new team or I started working on a new product. Frequently, I had a new technology that I had to learn. (That was one of the things that I really liked about doing technical writing—they paid me to learn.)

One of the things I already knew about myself was that I couldn't follow the same routine for more than three to four months. I'd develop a successful process or habit, and after a few months, it would stop working.

Now, finally, I understood why. That was as long as I ever worked on any project for the day job.

I did mention that I'd done technical writing for decades, right?

So I'd trained myself to do the same thing for only a few months. Then I would need to do something else.

Well, fuck.

All the MBAs tell you that must write a year-long business plan. Or two. Or, just shoot me now, three.

My brain does not think in terms of years. It thinks, and works best, in terms of quarters.

So instead of trying to create a year-long business plan, I pulled back.

I created a business plan for just a quarter instead.

And I was successful for the first time ever.

I cannot tell you how pissed off I was. Am. Remain. That no one, in any of the business books I'd ever read, had started off, up front, saying, "Create a business plan for the length of time that you're most comfortable planning." Whether that be a week, a month, a quarter, what have you.

Fuckers.

So this book is going to be all about making a business plan that actually works for you, the indie writer/publisher. I'm going to do what I did with the other Business for Breakfast books, and translate all that technobabble bullshit that the MBAs tell you into language, concepts, and actual plans that you, a creative person, can use. And implement.

My main goal is to explain things such that you can ignore all those stupid business people and get on with your own, individual, artistic works.

And build a plan that works for you, not them.

You're welcome.

NOTE: You may want to pause for a moment right here, right now, and think about what time period suits you best. A week? A month? A quarter? Think about your day job and how you've been trained to work. Then think about what makes you happy when it comes to planning. If it turns out to be "I can only plan for tomorrow and chances are, it won't work that way," that's okay! I'm going to talk about how to build up your planning muscles later.

Structure

You will note that this book doesn't come with worksheets. It doesn't have spreadsheets (or spreadshits as my sister calls them).

I know that authors of other business planning books include them to be helpful.

I've always either been intimidated by them (so many f@#$%g columns and rows to fill out!) or, quite frankly, stifling (That isn't how my business works, you a@#$%^&!).

You do not need a spreadsheet to create your business plan.

No, really.

The f@#$%g MBAs have been lying to you all these years about that.

You can create a business plan using Textpad. That's how I started.

Or Word.

Or Paint. (How else will you get the requisite amount of glitter and unicorns into your corporate reports?)

Do not let the tools stop you. Use whatever you're comfortable with. Hell, use a spreadsheet if that brings you joy.

I am not going to require you to use a specific tool. I'm going to give you suggestions. Guidelines.

And then, I will encourage you to color outside the lines.

Bottom Up

No, I'm not toasting you or encouraging you to drink. (Though honestly, I understand if the subject of business plans makes you feel as though you want to start drinking.)

Instead, I'm telling you that the structure of this book is going to approach your business plan from the bottom up.

All those other books from the f@#$%g MBAs tell you to start from the top down.

They assume that you created your business plan before you started publishing.

Most of the indie writer/publishers I know started hitting the publish button long before they started thinking about a business plan.

If you're like me, you've been doing indie publishing for a while. Maybe a short while, maybe a few years, but now you're looking to take your business to the next step.

A business plan may help. It will probably help you get better organized. It may help you figure out where you want to go. It may guide you in your growth.

But a business plan is not some magical sauce that's suddenly going to give you hours and hours of time to do all the things that you want to do.

No, quite frankly, a business plan may just pinpoint all those things that you should be doing but aren't currently. Which can be depressing.

However, once you find those holes, it's up to you to figure out how to fill them. If you decide to fill them.

You are responsible for your own career. For your own business.

Which is both exciting and terrifying, I know.

Leah Cutter

Seattle, November 2016