WWC 2014, day 2: Business planning for creative people with Sandra Fitzpatrick

Sandra Fitzpatrick

Write first. You don’t have a business without something to build it around.

The Business Plan

  • Executive summary
  • Industry and market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Marketing
  • Operation
  • Financial

Let’s look at each element in more detail.

Executive summary

This is written last but presented first. It contains the high points of all the other aspects. It’s as long as it needs to be.

Industry and market analysis

How will you make income? Are you aiming for self-publishing or a traditional deal? If traditional, are you aiming for the big 5, or a small press? What is your genre (prose, poetry, or drama)? What resources will you need (editors, cover artists, layout, etc.)? What is your social media plan and/or platform?

Competitive analysis

First, are you competing or collaborating? Know how to get your ISBNs in Canada and in the US. Also how will you get your ITIN for US sales? Where will you publish? What magazines, anthologies, and contests will you submit your work to? Are you querying agents or sending proposals to publishers? Do you know how the slushpile works? Understand copyright in your country of publication. Understand trademark and what it means to be in the public domain. How do you regain your rights? Understand basic contract law.

Marketing

How will you use social media to market? What festivals, conferences, and conventions will you attend? Will you facilitate workshops or critique groups? Will you give public readings? If so, how many and where? How much money will you invest in travel? Will you be setting up a podcast or YouTube channel? How much money will you invest in promotion?

Operation

Set your goals? How many words will you write per year? How many novels will that translate into? How will you track your productivity? How will you track your submissions? Make sure you back everything up.

Financial

If you do public readings, facilitate workshops, or sit on panels at conferences, investigate the options for charging for your time. Will you be able to make a living by royalties? Keep receipts and make invoices for everything. Filing is not a four-letter-word. Consider crowdsourcing through Kickstarter, Indie-go-go, or ongoing income via Patreon. Set aside 35% of any income you receive for taxes or investment.

Sandra then went through an example of a business plan to illustrate.


 

Next week: YA and the rough stuff. Chronologically, there was a Brandon Sanderson session in there, but I attended three of his sessions altogether and I’m just going to cover them all in one abbreviated post. I didn’t take notes. I just took it all in 😉 So that one will be me fangirling just a bit and offering a few references.

After YA and the rough stuff, I have Querying your YA novel, and Marketing your book, then Brandon Sanderson, and finally, the wrap post. So we’re very near the end of the WWC 2014 reportage. If I can keep this up during NaNoWriMo, we should be finishing up with When Words Collide on the first weekend of December. Then I’ll fill you in on the Humber workshop I’m attending next week and whatever else comes my way in the meantime.

Next up: The Next Chapter: October 2014 update.

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WWC Day 1: On dialogue, building accents, and dialect

Disclaimer: These are my notes. I am human. As such, I fully acknowledge that my notes are imperfect. Feel free to correct me if you see any glaring errors or misrepresentations.

Panelists: Axel Howerton, Sandra Fitzpatrick, Nola Sarina, Minister Faust

axel_photoSandraFitzpatrickNolaSarinaMinisterFaust

 

 

 

 

 

NS: You have to be consistent. Don’t shock your readers by changing things up part way through your novel. Don’t write phonetic dialect or idiom. It’s too much.

MF: There is no right and no wrong. Everything is a matter of taste. Chaucer would have probably hated Shakespeare. Does that make either of them wrong, or one better than the other?

SF: Make sure your dialogue is pronounceable. There are problems with other languages, like Gaelic, in which nothing can be sounded out, or Japanese, in which everything is contextual.

NS: Write out the dialogue from movies whose characters reflect your protagonist. Reflect the evolution of your character.

Q: What if all your characters are from the same small town? How do you make them distinct?

MF: Look at your friends. You can identify each of them by specific catch phrases or tics. Go someplace in your town or city where you don’t normally go. Listen. Learn to love how people talk.

NS: Bond two characters through dialogue similarities. Have a third party interpret for your reader.

Q: Any tips of how to keep consistency in your characters? In one novel, I had to tone down the protagonist’s swearing, but it was a part of his character. In the end, I only had him swear when he was upset, but that could come off as jarring.

NS: Edit for voice by character. Make a pass for each.

Q: What about using other languages?

NS: Intersperse them in the text. Try not to have long passages in other languages. Use another character as interpreter.

Q: How do you avoid caricatures or stereotypes? For example, I have a character much like Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid.

MF: Avoid stereotypes if you can. If you can’t, make sure there’s a reason for it. With regard to Miyagi, if someone watches the Karate Kid and comes away thinking that Miyagi is uneducated or backward, they’ve missed the point of the character. He was betrayed by his country, lost his wife in tragic circumstances, and has a disorder as a result. He’s chosen isolation as protection. He’s rejected the society that betrayed him.

Q: Is there a way to ease off dialect over the course of the novel?

NS: We’re back to consistency again. If it’s too much at the beginning, it’s too much, period.

MF: If you want to write a character with thick dialect, then do it. Don’t tease. Write the book you want to write.

Q: What about multiple different languages?

SF: It depends. In a science fiction setting, you could have something like a universal translator, but you have to make it plausible. Otherwise, think about syntax, word order. What are the differences between the languages we speak on this planet?

Q: I’m writing a YA historical. It’s historically accurate for the protagonist to call his parents mother and father, but writing it that way felt awkward.

MF: If it feels awkward to you, chances are it will feel awkward to your audience, too. If you want to address it, do so head on. Show it. Hang a lantern on it. Reveal it’s relevance by contrast. Do people of other classes refer to their parents in the same way?


 

I hope you enjoyed this opening salvo of When Words Collide (WWC). I’ll be continuing the transcription of my notes, one session each weekend, until I run out of notes.

WWC set a military pace. Most sessions were one hour and though intended to end at about 50 minutes, initially, most session ran overtime. There were no breaks for meals with sessions running from 10 am through to 9 or 10 pm. Special events often ran later.

In many cases, I had to arrive late or leave early to catch the next session with enough time to hit the bathroom, or grab a quick snack at the commissary.

Next week: The Anthology Jam. All about how to get published in an anthology.