Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Executive Summary is a Private Affair

What I find interesting is a lot of authors talk about putting together an author business plan, but at the same time I don't see concrete examples of what these author business plans look like. I am a big proponent of writing by example, and writing the executive summary has been difficult a difficult process. Typical executive summaries highlight what's inside the entire business plan and is written toward investors. The executive summary generates a buy-in, but as an author you are not asking others to invest money; you are asking yourself to invest in you. An author executive summary, to my way of thinking, is more personal, more intimate. You don't have to share the executive summary publicly because the executive summary is a private affair. Thus, also probably the reason I don't see author's executive summaries posted online.
If you have written an author business plan, I want to know. Specifically, I would like to see the executive summary. How did you write the summary? What was your process? What was your thinking when you drafted the executive summary? You are more than welcome to post your executive summary or business plan writing adventures in the comments below. Or, if you want to be more private about the affair, feel free to email me. I promise not to spam you. :)
I have found several online resources for the business plan's executive summary from purely an entrepreneurial pursuit, a more traditionally aligned "Let's make money by selling stuff and/or services" attitude.
                   Entrepreneur has a nice template.
                   Mplans, which basically sells business writing software, has a decent executive summary sample that is reminiscent of my pizza shop experience.
                   Alxel Schultze, CEO of Society3 posted a run down of a one pager, which I really like.
                   Amy Fontinelle wrote a piece on titled Business Plan: Composing Your Executive Summary.

I've used these sites to assist me in composing my own executive summary.

What I liked in particular about Fontinelle's piece was that she quoted William Gregory O, an Illinois attorney and owner of the law firm Lex Scripta LLC and Mike Coleman president of The Startup Garage, and these two dudes basically say if the executive summary is not engaging, then potential investors won't look beyond that page and won't bother investing. Because the investor in your author career is you, the executive summary is written to grab your attention and no one else matters. My executive summary is personal and fits only my personal needs. It excites me to read my own executive summary. I want to buy this guy lunch and a beer:

I am an author embracing the creative life and helping other authors to do the same. I write mainstream literary fiction and fantasy fiction. My audience includes independent authors, literary readers, and fantasy readers. Currently, my audience resides on Amazon. Eventually, my audience will also reside in brick and mortar bookstores. I sell stories. More specifically, I sell stories that not only entertain but hopefully speak to a greater truth in relation to the human experience. I also sell the author experience, although not necessarily for monetary gain. I help people to succeed in their writing endeavors.

This, of course, is only the first paragraph of the executive summary. The rest of the piece needs to highlight the entire author business plan. After the entire plan has been drafted, I will be returning to the executive summary to include the plan's highlights—so as this blog series continues, look forward to that future post. Next week: the business description.

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