Romance Author Roadmap
This is the final piece of the YEAR OF FOCUS series. If you're brand new to the newsletter or just need a refresher, here are the past parts...
1. Welcome to Your YEAR OF FOCUS
2. Everything is an Event
3. Making Goals and Money
4. Standalones vs Series
5. The Elephant in the Room
Over the past few years I’ve collected a wide variety of business planning workbooks.
Some of them sit on my shelves, half-filled and then untouched. A select few are scribbled all the way through, the pages soft from running through them again and again. None of them were specific to the business of being an author, mostly because that didn’t seem to exist.
There was an upside to that vacuum, because I confronted again and again the basic principles that define every business. It faded away some of the special snowflake from my views of my work.
Every other business makes financial projections.
Far from an afterthought, it’s often the most fundamental task since they can’t promise to pay rent, to employ workers, or order supplies without it. The fact that authors can largely operate without those obligations is pretty amazing, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still have projections.
Every other business makes goals for growth, with milestones, with strategies for research & development, for the accounting department, for publicity. The fact that our versions would be small and specific doesn’t mean they won’t be useful.
On some level I think authors recognize that we are entrepreneurs.
We work our asses off, that’s for sure.
But on another level there’s this zeitgeist that BOOKS ARE DIFFERENT. We can’t possibly predict how well a book will do. We can’t possibly control that. Setting goals around income doesn’t make sense because money is just a thing that happens to us sometimes, if we're lucky, raindrops falling from the sky.
I told you before that my major in college, my first career, was as a computer scientist, and I consider myself a scientist first. In some ways my YEAR OF FOCUS was an experiment.
Hypothesis: An author can control her own income.
I’ve spent the past few posts giving you the parameters of that experiment, including some directions for repeating it yourself. You already know the conclusion.
In Making Goals and Money, I made the case for setting income goals. But I felt like it was incomplete. A goal without a plan is just a wish. We need to draw a straight line from where you are now to how you’ll achieve those goals.
I know that some of the words are daunting. They're daunting to me, too. Financial projections, what the hell. I’m a scientist, not an MBA. I’m an artist, not a calculator.
Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not a miracle worker!
So I started mining the workbooks on my shelf for the core knowledge. I wrote it out using words that already circulate about books, words about graphics and PR and series.
And that’s how the Romance Author Roadmap was born.
It’s short and simple to understand and free for you to download.
I believe it can also be powerful if you answer it fully and refer back to it often.
In particular the Year of Focus Snapshot can be pinned to your corkboard, something to guide you when you stare at your social media feed, trying to make sense of the noise, or when you emerge from your writing cave, wide-eyed and uncertain.
One caveat I want to mention is that it's intended for authors who have been publishing for over a year already, with at least a small backlist - which is how the entire YEAR OF FOCUS was intended, and who the Author Thoughts newsletter was created for. You can still use it if you're newer than that, it's just something to keep in mind.
Print it out.
Write things down.
Wallpaper your office.
Use it today.
Use it next year.
Crumple it into a ball and start over again.
The Romance Author Roadmap is brand new, with little wood shavings drifting off and a metaphorical “Handmade” sticker on top. I used it myself and asked some of my close author friends for feedback, but it's rough around the edges. Feel free to send me feedback—what worked for you? What was unclear?
I hope it helps. I hope it brings you some measure of clarity around your goals and how you’ll get there. This is the last post in the YEAR OF FOCUS series, so I hope you have an amazing author business for the rest of 2017 and the years to follow 💘
PS. Feel free to forward this to an author friend. They can also subscribe to this Author Thoughts newsletter at www.skyewarren.com/authors