Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonya D. Price.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Tonya. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Sitting at a table with eight published, successful authors I listened to a discussion I’d heard too often. “I love writing. I want to do it full-time but how do you make money at it?”
There are plenty of people contacting authors every day claiming to have the secret to making a living at writing. There are not many people telling writers what they need to know – how to run a business. Writers are business people, especially in the Internet age. Even if you get a traditional publishing contract, the writer is expected to do much of the marketing themselves. Many authors supplement their income with self-publishing or teaching or speaking engagements. They are running a business. Most authors know this, but they have never learned how to run a business.
With an MBA from Cornell University and 20 years of entrepreneurial consulting experience, I knew how to run a business, so I asked how many of them had a business plan. They all gave the same answer, they had wanted to write a business plan, but none of them knew how to start or what to put in a business plan.
I offered to share my business plan for my new indie publishing company and answer any questions they might have. They all wanted a copy. The rest of the day, more writers requested my plan. I would never have time to write fiction if I gave one-on-one help to everyone.
I told people, “I’ll write a book on how to write a business plan for a writer and then if you have any questions, email me and I’ll be happy to answer your questions or review your plan. The result was the first of the Business Books for Writers imprint, “The Writer’s Business Plan.”
Writers have very little time, so I designed the book with worksheets and templates so that when the author has completed the book, they have a complete business plan customized for their business. Authors can read each of the Business Books for Writers in a weekend. One reader wrote me and said he had completed three business plans in a week. One for his writing, one for his consulting company and one for a small firm he owned. Now there is a prolific entrepreneur!
The book sold over 1000 copies as part of a Business Book Bundle for Writers the first month. I thought I would write one book and go back to writing mysteries and thrillers, but at the next writer’s workshop, I heard everyone talking about the stress of trying to meet deadlines. They had writing deadlines, editing deadlines, production deadlines, and marketing deadlines and couldn’t seem to make them all and still get sleep! That prompted me to write “Meeting the Writer’s Deadline.”
The book did well. Now I had a series going, so I asked more authors, “what is your biggest challenge as a writing entrepreneur. “The answer: getting everything done. When I announced, my next book would be “Completing The Writer’s To-Do List” at a writer’s workshop the room erupted in applause. That book is in production now and is slated to be on sale December 2017. The series covers the subject matter of an MBA for fiction and non-fiction writers. In the meantime, I’m editing my first international thriller and will soon launch Magnolia Lane’s fiction imprint.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The most significant challenge of running an indie publishing business is balancing the writing and book production with the marketing and business tasks. A business plan reminds you of your goals, strategy, and timelines. I hear people say business plans are outdated, but when you listen to these folks, you find that they know which potential buyers would want their product and how they plan to make those people aware of their product. They track their income, expenses, and profit. They have thought through every aspect of their business, and how they will achieve their goals. They just don’t call these thoughts a business plan.
If you have never run a business before following a traditional business plan format just makes the thought process behind how to achieve your goals clearer. Writers submit book proposals to publishing houses. They know how to plot a book. Once they understand how a business plan can help them, they find creating one is a lot like plotting a novel. It is comforting to know what you want to do and how you can achieve your goals. The trick is not to write the plan and put it aside never to use it again. A business plan to be useful must be a document you reread and update as you discover what your readers want and like.
The second biggest challenge is resisting all the opportunities that exist. Magnolia Lane Press is my third company. My first was a web design company, StrategicIdeas, launched in 1996 and acquired by an Internet Service Provider. The second was a project management consulting company, Tonya Price Consulting, which I still run. Writers always have a long list of ideas. Coming up with ideas for stories is second nature, so coming up with business ideas is easy too. But you can’t be successful if you pursue every idea. You have to be strategic. Pursue those opportunities that help achieve a specific goal. The business plan is a compass, providing a reminder of what you set out to do. You can change your objectives at any time but do so for a business reason, not just on a whim or to chase the latest business fad.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Magnolia Lane Press story. Tell us more about the business.
Magnolia Lane Press is an indie publishing company owned by Tonya Price founded May 2016. A variety of graphic designers, copyeditors, proofreaders, book designers and voice studios handle the book production. A team of invaluable volunteer beta readers and loyal readers provide feedback on the content.
The emphasis has been on developing the non-fiction line, with the main imprint being the BusinessBooksForWriters (www.businessbooksforwriters.com) which provides business advice for authors, both fiction and non-fiction. Formats include eBook (.epub and .mobi), print and soon, audio. All major online retail stores distribute the books including Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Nobels and a variety of other online outlets.
Writing entrepreneurs are busy people so Magnolia Lane Press designs Business Books for Writers to read in a weekend. Packed with lots of examples, worksheets, tips, hints, warning, and links the books allow readers can dive into any topic as deeply as they wish.
The company offers a free business newsletter for authors and will soon begin offering online classes, a subscription service to allow readers to acquire the books in sets and a private online community where Tonya will answer business questions and provide a place for readers to exchange ideas, share tips, and request new book topics.
The business is evolving to meet the business needs of authors. The most significant reward for me is sharing my business knowledge with authors and hearing back from them that the information helped them achieve their goals.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
My first stroke of luck was falling in love at 17 with a man who loved me as much as I loved him. For forty-five years he has supported my crazy entrepreneurial adventures at every turn and continues to remind me that success for Indie Publishers never happens overnight but requires continual work and patience. The company is on target for hitting its financial goals aided by his steady encouragement and belief in the firm’s mission.
Luck is often a matter of timing. I launched my first company just before small businesses discovered the benefits of using the internet. I delivered small informational websites for the cost of a yellow page ad, and I taught owners how to leverage their sites to improve their customer service helping them get an early jump on understanding how the Internet could grow their companies.
Business Books for Writers has benefitted by luck too. I have been lucky to have found talented publishing professionals for my production team in a short amount of time.
Luck is the whipped cream on the pie. You don’t build a successful business through luck. You achieve success by offering value to people, earning their trust by providing useful information and showing them how your product can help them achieve their goals. When good luck appears, you exceed your goals. When you encounter bad luck, you survive. Then the next day you go back to work.
- The Writer’s Business Plan eBook = $5.99
- The Writer’s Business Plan print book = $7.99
- Meeting The Writer’s Deadline eBook = $4.99
- Meeting The Writer’s Deadline print book = $6.99
- Completing The Writer’s To-Do List eBook (coming soon) – $4.99
- Completing The Writer’s To-Do List print book – $6.99
- Address: 279 East Central Street, #265; Franklin, MA USA
- Website: https://www.BusinessBooksForWriters.com
- Email: Publisher@MagnoliaLanePress.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BusinessBooksForWriters
- Twitter: twitter.com/@BusBooks4Writer
- Other: http://www.MagnoliaLanePress.com
Photos: Kauai; South Africa; Crime Bake; book covers designed by ZolanFiver from Fiverr.com, all rights held by Tonya Price for all photos and covers