I'm not going to completely bore you with the step by step, which you can find on your own by typing writer's business plan into the Google search bar. But I will highlight what I perceive as important.
1. Identify your customer: Almost sounds too easy, yet it's not enough to throw a book up at BN or Amazon and label or tag it in hopes that your reader will find it because they are likely to scroll through pages upon pages of other people's books before yours in the list marked, romance. If I step back even further from the "selling" perspective, I can see that by identifying my target audience, I'll be able to create something the audience is willing to pass on. For example, I would hope that my family members might pick up my book. If I wrote a horror novel or an erotic novel, I can be pretty sure, no one in my family or close circle of friends would recommend it to their family and friends. Understanding that, and accepting it, is part of the business plan and it helps me produce a book that will sell.
[aside] If I were a horror story writer, my plan would include the acceptance of that truth--don't plan on sales to family. And I would not necessarily change my writing preferences in order to please my family. On the other hand, I write romance... I can write it strictly mainstream and include lots of open door sex [which SELLS!] or I can form a plan to sell just as much, maintaining my own integrity.
That's how I see a business plan working. And that leads me to another point that struck me...
2. What makes your product special: There are thousands of writers out there. I take that back, there are thousands of ROMANCE writers out there. When the artist in most of us wants to create [uninhibitively][she says with a flourishing wave of her hand], it would be smart to create something that stands out from the crowd. That actually takes work. So when I can sit and write to my heart's content, I need the plan to help me focus my writing on the goal at hand. Otherwise, I run the risk of being just like everyone else [only better *wink*]. :D Then, making a connection, knowing what makes my product so special also helps me identify my customer.
I think a big part of this point in the business plan is taking confidence to a new level. Humility is highly valued, yet if you can't walk up to someone and say, My book is good. You want to know why?, well, then all your work is built on a pretty flimsy foundation. There are times to put aside the urge to be humble and lead with honesty instead.
But, let's face it, the bottom line is Money. Lesson Number One: don't let people make you feel bad for wanting to make money off your craft.
Well, off I go to put together a plan.
It's a good start...no, a good way to end 2011.