Got a goal to be publishing your book before the end of the year? You can do it! And this checklist can help.
Eating healthier, working out, making more time for friends… these are, even for us indie writers, common New Year’s resolutions. Which is to say, the resolutions that will soon go by the wayside.
But for writers, there’s one resolution of the utmost importance to us: finally finishing and publishing your book. This year — with the right preparation and planning — you can follow through on this goal.
I place emphasis here on “finishing and publishing” because if you’re just now typing “Chapter One,” it’s going to be hard for you to both finish and publish that book before the year’s over.
So, let’s assume you’ve already put in a lot of work — say, you’re halfway to your target length of 60,000 words. If you’ve made it that far, you can and will publish your book in 2019… IF you follow this checklist.
June: Finish and edit your first draft
The first step here is to finish writing your book. This will likely require some sacrifice. Cancel that Netflix subscription. Put a lock on your home office. Stay loyal to a writing schedule in which you write and make progress every single day.
Within a few months, you should be done with your first draft. But, that doesn’t mean you’re done writing. Next comes the rewriting. This is when you kill your darlings and shave down the story and the prose so only that which is essential and moves the story forward remains.
With focused effort, you can have this done in the next few months. The goal is to have a tight version of your manuscript which can serve as the foundation for what comes next.
July: Hand your manuscript to a professional editor
Are you done after you’ve finished your self-edit? Nope. Next, you should find a professional editor to edit your manuscript. Yes, this can be expensive. But it’s necessary and worth it to invest in a professional to take a second or third look at your every sentence, word, and syllable. At BookBaby, my team and I tell all our writers the same thing: edit or regret it.
That’s one reason why we offer all our writers editing services. But keep in mind, a professional editor will need 2–3 weeks to do a thorough job, so make sure you’ve found an editor closer to the beginning of the month than later.
August: Editing is complete
Your next step is to read the edited manuscript to make sure you agree with the changes your editor has made. This is important, so take your time. Some authors accept all the changes and rush through this process blindly. Don’t do that! This is your book, and you get the final say on how it reads.
September: Prepare for publication
By September, you should have an edited manuscript ready to go. Next, you’ll need to take steps to make your book look and feel professional.
The best way to do that, outside of partnering with a traditional publisher — which for most people doesn’t make monetary or logical sense and isn’t really feasible to begin with — is to partner with a full-service self-publishing company (I recommend BookBaby!). Your next steps include:
Cover design. The cover of your book is of the utmost importance. It will be the first thing new readers see when they come across your book. It must be both arresting and professional. It pays, then, to hire a professional cover designer. Your sister-in-law who knows a bit of graphic design won’t cut it. You want your book to look like the real deal.
Promotion plan. Next, you’ll need to start thinking about how you’re going to inform the world about the existence of your book. Savvy authors know that such promotion must start early — long before your book enters the marketplace. Will you hire a publicist? Solicit book reviews? Try social media ads? September is the month to make all these strategy decisions so when it comes time to implement them, you know exactly what to do.
Publishing plan. This is also the time to decide how, exactly, you’re going to deliver your book to the world. Are you going to use Print-On-Demand services? Will you create eBooks? There are many distribution options for eBooks, including Amazon and AppleBooks. Another option is to partner with aggregators (BookBaby provides such services) who can handle distribution for you.
Once you hit October, it’s time to put things into motion. The first step? Pre-sale.
If you’re distributing your book online, that means you need to set up a pre-sale period for your book with the various online marketplaces and retail stores you’re utilizing. This is, arguably, the most important part of your book launch.
Mid-November: Time to hit the marketplace!
If you’ve followed all the steps above, your book should be available for pre-sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc. in time for the holiday and the end of the year.
If all this sounds like a lot of work — you’re right. It is. To get there will require discipline, patience, and grit. Here are some general rules to follow to help keep you on track.
Plan for good and bad days. You can expect to have some good days — when creativity flows and the words spill out without effort — and bad days. Life is full of distractions, after all. The important thing is to plan accordingly so you can get even a little bit of work done every day.
Turn off the TV. I mentioned this earlier, but television (and YouTube) is the biggest book killer known to man. So turn it off. There’ll be plenty of time for binge-watching this fall after the hard work is done.
Ask for help. Turn to your friends and family and tell them you’re living out the dream of writing your book. Ask for their forgiveness — and space — while you complete this mission.
Deadlines aren’t everything. Don’t beat yourself up if your manuscript isn’t done by June. A rushed book is never a good book. Publishing a book of quality takes time, just commit to the process and work until you’re done.
I look forward to reading your book this time next year!
Set Your Priorities And Write Your Book
Cut and Cut (and Cut Again) — The Self-edit Credo
What Type Of Book Editing Do You Need? And When?
Six Myths (and a Few Facts) About Traditional Publishing
You Can’t Skip Hiring A Cover Designer
Your Book Needs A Pre-Sale Period To Be Successful