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Monthly Archives: September 2015


The main purpose of creating a history of my writing business, is to keep track of what has occurred in the business. Financial institutions like to know that a business has a history and that the business didn’t just start yesterday. They want to know that the entrepreneur is actually making progress toward predetermined goals.
In addition, by keeping track of business history, in my business plan, I know where to go in my documents so that I can incorporate this information into various types of documentation in the future and simply cut and paste the information into that documentation rather than having to figure it out later or having to figure where I put the info in all of my online documents. In addition, when I periodically go through my overall business plan, it will be a simple matter to look over this history and add any new milestones that I have reached as presented in my intentions and goals section of the business plan.
Because this information might be required in different formats, I am including the history both in a time line of dates of operation as well as in narrative form.

Capture business plan history timeline
Create a time line in excel and snipping tool with these dates (Capture Business Plan History Timeline)

Time Line of Dates of operation
Published When God Turned His Head in 2010
Published Soldiers Don’t Cry in 2012
Published Simply Vegetable Gardening in 2013
Created Initial Business Plan for Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing in August 2015
Published A Coward’s Solace in 2015 in August 2015
Donna Brown found and becomes President of the Oregon County Writers Group in August 2015

Narrative History of Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing
Another way that we can show our history is by documenting it in a narrative as shown below.
Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing began when Donna Brown under the pseudonym Cygnet Brown decided to self-publish When God Turned His Head in 2010. Even though Ms. Brown published two more books during the next several years, Soldiers Don’t Cry (2012) and Simply Vegetable Gardening (2013), revenue was scarce during those first years.
In August 2015, Donna initiated a business plan and then published A Coward’s Solace. She then had When God Turned His Head edited by a third party and republished it that same month. At the end of that same month, she became President of the Oregon County Writers Group which she also founded.
Knowing where I am in my business is important, because it allows me to know where I have been so that I know if my business is heading in a direction that is congruent with my mission statement as well as my intentions and goals. More on intentions and goals in a later post.

Beyond the Business Plan

IN addition to writing this business plan, I have been working on using my business plan as I am writing it. I have been participating in several  marketing events over the past several weeks. First was an interview regarding my upcoming book launch. Next I actually had the book launch for my novel A Coward’s Solace. Next I attended two festivals. First The Solemn Ole Judge Days in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas and the next was Heritage Days in Koshkonong, Missouri the following weekend. I not only appeared on the front page of our local daily newspaper the West Plains Daily Quill, but also appeared on the social page of my hometown newspaper back in Northwestern Pennsylvania-The Corry Journal. All in all, book sales of all my books are on the rise, so these efforts have already started producing results.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


The Mission Statement for Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing

What should I do now?

What should I do now?

Over the past several weeks I have been thinking about and developing the mission statement for my business which I call Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing.
The mission statement is important because it tells the purpose of the company. On the surface, I might have wanted to say that the purpose of my publishing business was “to make money writing and selling books”. However, I have learned that in order to do this, I need to have a mission that includes why readers would want to read the books that I write. Without including the readers as part of the mission, I am not likely to be able to sell any books.
Therefore, I had to figure out why readers would want to read my books. Since most of what I write is fiction, entertaining the reader is an important component to my mission.
Entertainment, however, isn’t all that I think my books do for others. Therefore, I look at the other aspects of the books that I write. Since my books are Christian in nature, encouragement and inspiration are also components of what I consider are part of my publishing mission.
My fiction books are also historical in nature. One of my desires as a writer is to educate. This is also the case in regards the nonfiction book that I have written as well.
The mission of Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing is to write, publish, and market books that entertain, encourage, inspire, educate, and enlighten. “The Books Folks ‘Swan’ to read.”

Elevator Speeches

I have discovered the value of determining elevator speeches in regards, not only to the business, but also in regards to each of the books that I write. The term “elevator speech” came about when individuals find themselves in an elevator with a prospective client and they have just two minutes to pitch their product or idea. This concept has been extended to giving a one or two sentence explanation for what you do. The goal of the elevator speech is to get the individual asking questions about you and what you are doing.

When someone asks me what I do,I say, “I am the publisher at Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing. I write, publish, and market books that entertain, encourage, inspire, educate and enlighten. I write “the books folks swan to read”

.After that answer I often get a slightly more specific question. “What kind of books do you write?” My answer, “I write both nonfiction and fiction. I have written a nonfiction gardening book called Simply Vegetable Gardening and I have a Historical Christian Romance series called The Locket Saga.”
This answer usually leads in one of three directions depending upon the listener’s interests. If the listener is interested in gardening, we might start having a vegetable gardening discussion. If the listener is interested in writing, the listener will start talking about wanting to write a book and will ask me writing questions. (If the listener is local, I will recommend that he or she attends our writers group and give that information.) The listener may ask me about The Locket Saga. I would tell the listener that I have three books published in the series with plans for more. If the listener starts asking me what each book is about, then I would use more elevator speeches. I practice each of these short answers regularly so that I do not stammer and can give an intelligent answer.
What is Simply Vegetable Gardening about? “This book is about tips and Strategies for producing a successful organically grown vegetable garden of a gardener with more than 40 years of experience.”
The Locket Saga about? This series is about a locket that gets passed down from bride to bride in a specific family lineage. It shares the family’s struggles, failures, and triumphs.
What is When God Turned His Head about? It is a Historical Christian Romance based in Colonial America in the 1750s, Drusilla Codman is accused of her husband’s murder.
What is Soldiers Don’t Cry about? It is a Historical Christian Romance set at the beginning of the American Revolution. A young couple is on opposite sides of the American Revolution. She is a Patriot Spy and smuggler and he is a British Officer.
What is A Coward’s Solace about? This Historical Christian romance, set at Valley Forge in 1777-1778, is about a young man who is seeking revenge for his Lenape wife’s murder, but instead discovers love, a family, and God.

Elevator Speeches for Future Books in the Locket Saga

Not only do I have elevator speeches for the books that I have already written, I have them for books that are in various drafts. Not only will I be able to state these answers confidently when someone asks what each of my books are about, but it provides a mission statement of sorts (theme) for the book as I am writing it. It definitely keeps me on track when writing each book.

What is Sailing Under the Black Flag about? This Historical Christian Romance is about a boy who becomes a man before his time when he joins an American privateer during the American Revolution.

What is In the Shadow of The Millpond about? A Historical Christian Romance during the Whiskey Rebellion in the frontier town of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania of the 1790s about a young woman who searches for the murderer so she can free her best friend and lifelong crush.

The next two books are little more than ideas, but I have elevator speeches about them as well.
What is The Anvil about? “It is a Historical Christian Romance set just before the turn of the 19th century about three families who go into the wilderness where years earlier, their ancestors were killed. A young man and a young woman discover what they are made of as they build a life in this wild hostile environment.”

What is I Have Never Had Writers Block About? I Have NEVER Had Writers Block (I’ll teach you how you too can avoid it too!) Proven strategies to avoid writer’s block that I instinctively knew and can teach others to do the same.
Other Uses for the Elevator Speech in the Business Plan
The mission of each elevator speech should reflect the mission of the mission statement. By writing these elevator speeches and including them with the mission statement, we make sure that this is true. As we look at these elevator speeches, we see that they do indeed reflect the mission statement of this business plan. Each one of those descriptions relate to the overall business mission in that it demonstrates the fact that the books that are published, written, and marketed at Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing does entertain, encourage, inspire, educate, and enlighten. “The Books Folks ‘Swan’ to read.”
In addition, these speeches can and should be used in product descriptions that show up later in the business plan. I will write more about that in a future post.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


A number of years ago, back before I even joined the military, I was sitting in my room praying. I was asking the Lord about my future, and I heard a voice in my spirit. He said, “Your linea will be two-fold.”

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What is Linea?

I asked the voice if He meant blessings and He said, no, linea. I asked Him what is linea and He told me to look it up and I said I didn’t even know how to spell linea, so He then spelled out the word to me. I looked it up, but, of course I didn’t find that word in my dictionary.
I then asked my Dad what he thought the word meant (without telling him where I got the word, of course, he’d have thought I was crazy.) He said that he thought that it probably had something to do with lineage or perhaps line.
I thanked him for his answer and then went back to the dictionary. There, in the origin of the word line was the Latin root linea which literally meant linen thread. I thought I had an understanding concerning the meaning of the word two-fold meaning that it would be double.
My question then became what was the significance of linen in the Bible? I looked up the references to linen in the Bible and it was the material that priestly garments were made of. The signature verse relating to this for me as a Christian, however, was Revelation 19:8 which is “And to her (the Bride of Christ) was granted that she be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints (believers).”

 

Where Do We Get Clothes of Righteousness?

What is the righteousness am I as a Christians clothed in? I don’t have righteousness in myself. The righteousness that I am clothed in is the righteousness of Christ. It says in Isaiah 64:6 that our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. However, the passage goes on to say that if we put ourselves in God’s hands, and allow ourselves to be molded by Him like clay in a potters hands, we become His people. In the New Testament, we learn in Acts 4:12 there is only one name (authority) that we can be saved (made whole) and that is in the authority of Jesus Christ.
I have recently revisited this prophecy that God gave me and have taken a closer look at the word two-fold. I looked it up in my Strong’s Concordance and discovered only one passage that talks about two- fold (Matthew 23:15) and it refers to how the Pharisees (hypocrites) made their followers worse than the children of hell. I knew that this was not the word that God had for me, so I looked at the word a little deeper. I learned that the word used in this verse was distomos which means two-edged and so I looked at the other verses that used this term two-edged and Hebrews 4:12 came to my attention. It says, “For the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

thunderstorm

Times When God Spoke to Me Profoundly

  • What God was trying to tell me that day (as well as starting to teach me how to diligently study His word) was that Jesus Christ is my righteousness, and that I can learn to trust Him in every area of my life, no matter what. I need to realize that His Word separates the worldly things from the spiritual things.
  • He has been telling me this in many other ways through the years. When I was in bootcamp, one of the girls in my company was concerned that her mother would not be able to make it to our graduation. The Lord prompted me to tell her that not only would her mother come, but so would her whole family! I did, and they came just as the Lord told me to tell her!
  • When my son Jeremy was little, I was concerned because I had to leave him while I was away in with the Navy Reserves. The Lord told me that I was not just trusting him with the people caring for him, but that I was also leaving him in God’s hands. My son remained safe.
  • A few years later, I was left a single parent. My younger son Jonathan’s father had died and Jon had no father (not my other son Jeremy’s father). I asked God to be his father and when I reminded God of that, he showed me that he was living up to his promise to be his father.
  • Most recently, I had to leave my husband because he was abusive with me, but I left my daughter behind with him because she wanted to stay where she was. After much prayer, I decided to leave her in God’s hands. I knew that her natural father loved her and that physically and emotionally, she was safe with him even though I was not. It has been the hardest thing that I have ever done. I see her and talk to her from time to time, and in our conversations, I am reassured that God has been protecting her and more importantly, he has been guiding her because she is a believer in Christ and she hears his voice too. Her steadfast faith is a real blessing because her father, my husband (we are not divorced) claims to be an agnostic now and he is living with a woman who says that she is an atheist. I pray daily that the Lord continues to show my daughter his wisdom. I pray that her trust in God influence her father and yes, grudgingly, I pray that he influence my husband’s girlfriend as well.

The Linea (righteousness) that I wear is indeed has sharp edges that separate. It divides the truth from the fables. It divides the carnal (physical) from the spiritual. It divides belief from unbelief. The righteousness of Christ in me is pure and undefiled. May my walk through this life continue to reveal His Truth.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


Last month I said that I was starting a business plan, so this month, I made having a business plan my month long affirmation. Here’s what I have so far.

Designing a Cover Sheet

The first page of a business plan is the cover sheet. As a creative person, this cover sheet should be as creative as possible. The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is definitely true. The cover sheet is the first impression that others have of your business plan.
Just as I dress nicely when I meet a potential client or venue, so also should my cover sheet be dressed nicely. I have decided not to take this project lightly so this is a project that I am going to be working on throughout the upcoming month.
So far, I know my business name. My business name is Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing. In addition to the business name and the address of the business, I will include my tagline: “The books folks swan to read.”
I think that I am going to create a logo that represents both my company Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing and The Locket Saga. I will probably include some kind of swan as well as some form of a locket. Perhaps I can put a clipart swan in the place of the word swan in the tag line.

Beginning My Executive Summary

The second page of a business plan is the executive summary. As the title implies, this page summarizes the rest of what in the business plan. It gives a summation of details revealed in the rest of the document.
Just as I will be working on the cover sheet throughout this month, I will be continuing to work on this page as well. In some ways, this page reminds me of the abstracts that I had to write during college, but it is written more like an outline of the entire document. For the online edition, I will place book marks in the document and put hyperlinks in the Executive Summary. Of course, this will not show up in a printed version of this document, but it will provide a way for me as the author of the document to maneuver around the document with ease. There is no way to finish this page until all of the others are in place, but below are the summary topics included in my executive summary.

The Components of the Executive Summary

Headlines within my author/publishing business plan will include:
Contact and Location Information-Name of Contact person (in this case me), physical address of my business, phone number, email address, and URL to about page on website which has more detailed online contact information.
Mission Statement-A witty summation of what my business is about and in my case will include my tagline: The Books Folks “Swan” to Read. (More about this in the next post.)
Time Line of Business Activities- Named milestones and dates about the history of the business.
Business Bio Summary-Summary of the Business-what are you in business to do and how did you get where you are today?
List of Staff Positions- include temporary positions and contracted work

Business Investors: This is anyone who has invested interest in the business. In my case, so far the only person who has invested in the business is me, but because this is a business, I could myself as an investor.
Summary of Products: Since I have four books out (to date) these are the products that I list. Here I include name of product, initial launch date, and form of the books currently available. (Is it in e-book, paperback, hardcopy? Is it available as an audio book? Has it been translated into other languages?)
Summary of Services: as a writer and author, I am a writer and as a writer, therefore this would include various aspects of the services that I provide as a writer such as research, writing articles, writing online content of various types. However, this would also include paid and unpaid appearances that involve speaking.
Targeted Customer: Who reads the kind of book that I write? Provide summarized statistics of my findings.
Industry Projections: What is the estimated growth of this industry and this business in particular?
Marketing Summary-Summary of the strategies of how I am marketing my books
Financial Summary: Has the business been running at a profit or a loss? (This information probably would only be in personal copy of business plan or to financial institutions that I am seeking financial assistance) This summary would include future financial projections. This would also include what would use of funding requests from financial institutions.
Future Endeavors: A summary of Intentions and Goals with emphasis on what I will be doing next including marketing strategies as well as future projects (books).

A Living Breathing Document

Just as books that we write will not be perfect the first time we write them, I know that my business plan will not be perfect when we first write it, nor will it be a document that is carved in stone. This document is an ongoing living breathing document that will grow and change as my business as an author changes. If you are an author, do you have a business plan? What other aspects of an author’s business do you think you would add to a business plan?

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

 


hat

This month my affirmation is all about being in business as a writer. This month my focus is on treating my writing as my vocation rather than just a hobby.. This month (and next month too) my goal is to create a comprehensive, living, breathing document called a business plan.

The Many Hats of A Self-published Author

A self-published author wears many hats. First, I am the author of four books and am writing more as we speak. Second, I am a publisher. I am a business owner.
I am a researcher, and I am one of the editors of my work. I used to be the only editor, but I changed all that when I realized that if I didn’t own my company, I could be fired for having done such a poor job! So I now have someone else handle the final edits. I format my own books and picked out the designs for the covers. Again, I probably would do better if I hired someone else to do that. I am also handling the marketing and most of the sales. In addition, I am currently my own PR person and my own secretary. Due to precious little money coming into my business at this point, I handle my finances as well. Finally, I am the president and CEO of my company. I am the boss.

Hats That I Do Not To Wear

One hat I do not wear as a self-published author is that I do not do my own final editing. I leave that to my beta readers. In addition, I do not take my own photographs nor do I design or create my own flyers. I actually have someone else do it who does a far better job than I do.

Letting Others Wear My Hats

Though I do wear many hats, there are certain hats that do not fit me very well and eventually I intend to let someone else wear those hats. I would like to focus most of my time and attention toward producing books and being featured at speaking or book signing events. I would also like to have someone else drive me to those events. A girl can dream; can’t she?

What Does This Have To Do With Business Planning?

Knowing what I do well, and what I do not do so well is an important part of business planning. A business owner needs to realize that he or she cannot do everything alone. As a self-published author, I want to have creative control over my work which I have, however, that doesn’t mean that I should make it a one woman show even if I was good at all of those things, but I am not.
Therefore, it is important that I understand what I am doing, what I am allowing others to do and what I should be allowing others to do. This gives me a human relations goal for my business. I begin to create job descriptions for future employees or contractors. This shows me what it is that I do so that when the time comes for me to share the load, I can tell exactly what I am doing so that I can tell the person that I am relinquishing the hat to what it is that I want that person to do with that hat and to know whether that hat is a good fit after all.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


And So It Begins

elevenpoint

The Eleven Point River in Oregon County Missouri

 

August 31, 2015, evening, we started the Oregon County Writers Group of Oregon County, Missouri. Not many people showed up, but we are all ready to roll up our sleeves and do whatever it takes to make this group a success. We were all experienced writers, so it was good for a first meeting. Enough of us showed up that we were able to elect a different person for president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. We all filled out membership forms and answered a series of questions about what we want from our writers group.

Promoting at  Local Festivals

We discussed how to increase membership and we all agreed that we would try to get into as many local festivals as possible during the next couple months (at least the free ones!) We also discussed the difference between traditional and self-publishing and we are looking to do a future meeting devoted specifically to that topic. In addition, we talked about possibly using Skype to bring speakers into our remote rural area. The vice president sent an email to me yesterday (September 1) that we had a table at a festival for this Saturday! Now we just have to get ready for it! He even said that I would be able to promote my books there! Talk about a blessing!

Making the Oregon County Writers Group A Success

The best part of it is that everyone who attended is willing to participate in making this new writer’s group a success. Before finishing this post, I set up a Facebook page, and be the main admin person. The secretary is sending me everyone’s information so that I can connect them with the page. I’ll be adding a few writing related articles to the page. She will probably send me that today. One of the members of the group does not have Facebook, so we will be helping him through the process. Our new vice president is taking charge of putting out the press releases of our meeting and is contacting the event coordinators. We sent our next meeting for the last Monday night of September, at the same place, and at the same location. I patted myself my back for delegating and spreading out the work. Next meeting, though I am president, I won’t have to do everything like I did for the first meeting!

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues. Her upcoming book A Coward’s Solace will be available soon. Click here for more information about Cygnet Brown and her books.

 


On August 29, 2015 from 1-3 pm my friends helped me celebrate the launch of  A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. Here are  the highlights.

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Patrick Ledgerwood, Presiding Commissioner of Oregon County, Missouri introduced me as Author Cygnet Brown. to a room full of friends and fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I then thanked everyone for coming. I told them how I felt that being a self-published author was like being a farmer. This went over well because we had several farmers in the room.

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I told them about the process that went into the writing of the Locket Saga (which was anything but linear) and specifically about the story regarding A Coward’s Solace.

 

I gave a special acknowledgment to my beta readers, Auralee and Jann. I could not have presented a successful book without their help.

I gave a special acknowledgment to my beta readers, Auralee and Jann. I could not have presented a successful book without their help. Also gave special thanks to the coop for allowing me to use their facilities and to Rachel Reynolds Luster for her assistance in making this event a success.

Final cover for A Cowards Solace

A Coward’s Solace: Book III of the Locket Saga is currently available for sale at The Oregon County Food Producers and Artisans Cooperative as well as online at Lulu.com http://www.lulu.com/shop/cygnet-brown/a-cowards-solace/paperback/product-22272162.html and on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Cowards-Solace-Book-Locket-Saga-ebook/dp/B013PUO1PG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440895072&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Coward%27s+Solace

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she is the author of the Historical Christian Romantic fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues. Her latest book A Coward’s Solace is now available! She has also written a nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening.. Click here for more information about Cygnet Brown and her books.

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