Some of the hesitation I hear regarding a plan for book writing comes with the unknown. As a business owner, you've planned a launch or two (or 10), but you've never spent months writing and then publishing a book. Whom do you need to hire? What steps come first? Here’s what you need to know to plan your book writing and publishing for best results.
To allow plenty of time for schedule mishaps, breaks, and, you know, life and business, author-entrepreneurs should allow six to nine months for this process. (More wiggle room in the schedule never hurt anyone, did it?) Sure, you could do it quicker than that, but putting together a high-quality book takes time.
Ready to dig in?
The Big Picture
Let’s start with a big-picture look at the process. The three big pieces of the book publishing puzzle are writing, production/publishing, and marketing. Book marketing is in the mix for the entire time, because you simply can’t wait until the book is ready and available for purchase to start marketing it. With the other two steps, though — writing and production/publishing — there is a clear order: A book needs to be written before it can be produced (edited/formatted) and published (printed/purchased). Anything to be done that falls under “writing” should come before “publishing” tasks. (The exception here is finding an editor and designer. The work won’t be done until later in the process, of course, but you need to find and secure those service providers before you need them.)
Within those bigger pieces are lots of smaller steps/tasks. Some of them are moveable. For example, the book cover can be designed before the book is edited or after. Others are not.
A manuscript cannot be sent out for feedback until it is written.
A book cannot be formatted until the manuscript is complete. (It can be edited, but it shouldn’t be!)
Editors and designers with immediate availability are few and far between.
A book cover cannot be designed without a title/subtitle.
A book cannot be reviewed until it is written.
Start by creating a master list of tasks. Break them down as needed. Don’t put “write book” on your list, for example. Instead, you want “write Chapter 1,” “write Chapter 2,” and so forth on your list.
Where Should You Start?
Sometimes you have a clear idea of when you want to launch your book. If you’re speaking at a conference, for example, and have the opportunity to sell books there, that’s a no-brainer. Often, though, you don’t have a hard deadline. In that case, just pick a launch date for the book. You need to have a way to build a schedule, and this gives you that.
These are rough time frames, but they tell you what the process generally looks like:
Writing: 2-3 months
Editing: 2 months
Design (interior): 1-2 months
Proofreading/uploading: 1 month
Take your launch date and work backward to construct a book time line (aka production schedule). That way, you know when to start writing in order to maintain that schedule. (Then share that date, publicly or privately — to an accountability partner, your mastermind, whomever — so you have accountability and are more likely to stick with the project!)
What questions do you have now that I’ve laid out the general time line? Let me know in the comments. I’m happy to answer them.