I’ve often found that novelists are like academics: they abhor the business world and often make a living criticizing it. While all of us would like to play the role of Socrates, none of us would like to end up drinking hemlock (or, less dramatically, changing jobs, working two jobs, etc.).
I’m a former academic so I’m prone to a bit of arm-chair criticism myself, but I’m also an Internet entrepreneur, and find it satisfying to develop a product that someone will actually use, and which will enable me to make a living.
I have reprinted below, with some changes, Sequoia Capital’s outline for writing a business plan. Sequoia is one of the top-tier venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, and has backed numerous companies that have impacted all of us, from Apple, to Google, to YouTube.
Sequoia, like many investors, likes business plans that present a lot of information in as few words as possible. In the Valley, you often hear the advice to make your pitch (usually a Power Point presentation) ten slides long and to use an 18pt size. While that may be overdoing it, there’s a lot to be said about brevity and clarity of purpose. Hope this helps!
Purpose of Your Book
- Define the purpose of your novel (or non-fiction work) in a single declarative sentence.
Problem or Pleasure that Your Book Addresses or Provides
- Describe the gap within your genre (e.g., “no paranormal works featuring believable female werewolves”).
Solution that Your Book Offers
- Demonstrate how your work “fills” the gap.
- Show where your work sits in relation to other, similar works. (If you are writing YA, for example, where does your work sit in relation to The Hunger Game?)
- Provide use cases on how your work distinguishes itself.
Why Publish Your Book Now?
- Set-up the historical evolution of your genre.
- Define recent trends that make your solution possible.
- Identify/profile the reader you cater to.
- List competitors (other books)
- List your competitive advantages
- Development roadmap (when will your book be done?)
- Sales & distribution model
- How much will you spend to produce and market your book?