Who Does What for How Many Oreos?

As we continue working our way through writing an author business plan, we arrive at Section 6: Operations and Management.

The “Operations and Management” section essentially boils down to “Who does what to whom for how many Oreos?”

This is the section where you, the author, prepare lists of who will handle each task involved in writing, producing, distributing, marketing and selling your book – how each of those people will be paid or compensated, and the amount of the compensation.

The independent or self-published author will have a different Operations and Management section from the traditionally published author – but “different” doesn’t necessarily mean shorter.

Operations and Management subdivides into subsections. Let’s look briefly at each:

1. Writing the Book. This task generally falls to the author – and by “generally” I mean “there ain’t another option.” This is your job. Do it well.

2. Editing the Book. The author should have at least one, and often several, editors. Peer editors are often unpaid and usually other authors or qualified friends. (“Qualified” means capable of understanding professional publishing standards and ensuring that the manuscript meets those standards with regard to plot, grammar, and other mechanics. Qualified people may be friends of the author, but all of the author’s friends are not necessarily qualified to edit a work for publication.) If you’re using a paid editor, his or her name goes here too, along with the estimate or billable rate for the work.

Traditionally published authors will also have an editor at the publishing house that contracts to publish the work. That person will be paid by the publisher, so the entry on the payment column is “publisher to pay.”

3. Production Process. This section should list every step from word-processing document to completed e-book or printed work. If you don’t know what all those steps are, and you’re not traditionally published, you need to learn what they are before you get into the process, to ensure you’re producing a professional, high-quality product. Writing this section of the business plan will help you make sure your budget is accurate and that you’ve accounted for the process in advance.

4. Marketing. Independent and traditionally-published authors all need to develop a marketing plan. Most of the information for the Marketing section of Ops and Management will already be written down in the Marketing section of the business plan – so generally speaking you can retrieve the names and information from there and just add the expected costs.

5. Distribution. Traditionally published authors can skip this section, but independent authors will need to determine how the work will be distributed (via Amazon? IndieBound? The author’s website?), what costs will accompany distribution (remember shipping and handling, as well as the costs of distribution itself), and who will make sure the books actually get into the mail and the digital download programs are secure and functional.

The Operations and Management Section may be relatively short, or long and complex, depending upon the size of the author’s production team and marketing/distribution plans. The key is making sure that the Operations and Management plan lays out a road map you can follow and provides necessary contact information for all team members in one place. If you ever need to contact someone, or determine who is handling a particular aspect of the publication process, you should be able to look to this section and find the information you need.

For those who may have missed an installment, here are links to Part 1 (the Overview), Part 2 (Writing the Dreaded Synopsis), Part 3 (On Pre-Release Marketing Mountain), Part 4 (Marketing for Release Weeks), Part 5 (The After-Party: Post Release-Phase Marketing),  Part 6 (Know Thyself! Making Comparative Analysis Work for You), and Part 7 (Time for Success! Creating Author Timelines)

Do you prefer to work with a small production crew or a large one? Does the thought of making this kind of list overwhelm you? I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and experiences.