“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
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Last week, Garry Rodgers wrote a TKZ post about Leonardo da Vinci that explored the idea of using both sides of the brain: the left (analytical) and the right (emotional). Today’s post on project plans is all about the left side.
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Let’s start with software. Software development projects are carefully planned and tracked. At least they should be. A large deliverable may involve many actors including developers, documenters, administrators, and testers. A good project manager will maintain a gantt chart much like the one pictured below (intentionally blurred), to document the various deliverables, dependencies, and milestones.
Gantt charts can contains hundreds of line items, so they’re a good way to keep track of everything. But there are pitfalls. Some project managers become so enamored with the bells and whistles of project planning software that they end up managing the plan rather than managing the project.
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So what does this have to do with writing? Although writing is considered a right-brain function, the tasks that go into publishing a book are lefties.
My first book was traditionally published. Once the publisher offered a contract and I signed, they took the steering wheel. They had their own editors that I worked with. They also came up with several different cover designs for me to choose from. They purchased the ISBN and arranged for the copyright. They also decided on the release date and took care of uploading the book to the retail sites as well as Ingram Spark. I didn’t have a lot to do during that phase except ask some people for endorsements and review the situation whenever the publisher contacted me. There was no need for me to have a formal plan. But then things changed, and the rest of this post has to do with all the things that go into self-publishing a novel.
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When my husband and I decided to self-publish the next book, we established our own publishing company, Wordstar Publishing, LLC. The process of publishing a book became a lot more difficult.
I started with a simple to-do list, and things went fairly well, but I only had one book to worry about. It soon became clear that I needed a project plan to keep track of all the threads.
So now I have a project plan for each book. I don’t use a gantt chart, but I maintain an excel spreadsheet with categories. Each category has a list of tasks and each task has a target date, completion date, and notes. Although I’m an avid follower of the KISS principle, there are well over a hundred line items on the plan for my latest book, and it will grow as I add book promos and feedback.
Here are the major categories and a brief description of each one:
- Writing / Editing – Everything it takes to get the ms ready for publication. Original ms, dev editor, revisions, line editor, proofreader, text to speech.
- Beta Readers – List of all the wonderful people whose feedback makes it a better book.
- Endorsers – More wonderful people who add credibility to the book.
- Cover Design – Work with the designer, finalize the image, provide back cover copy
- Copyright & Library of Congress – Get copyright and Library of Congress number. Send copies to gov agencies.
- Wordstar Publishing tasks – ISBN, barcode, contract with author
- Website – Update kaydibianca.com with book info
- Format and Finalize – Format in Vellum, finalize front and back matter
- Launch-related activities – Identify launch team, finalize emails, newsletters, images
- Prep for Pre-order and Final ebook – Choose ebook release date, prepare pre-order and upload to retail sites. Upload final version.
- Prep for Release of Print copy – Choose print release date for retail sites. Upload final version.
- Ingram Spark and Draft2Digital – Upload ebook and print to Ingram Spark. Upload to Draft2Digital for library distribution.
- Editorial Reviews – Identify and contact orgs for editorial reviews
- Marketing – Promos, giveaways, book store contacts
- Mail books – Send copies to all the folks who helped along the way
So there you have it. A way to keep organized and stay on-target.
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Over to you, TKZers. How do you organize publishing your books? Do you maintain a project plan? What other activities do you track beyond what I have on my list?
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Cassie Deakin has one item on her to-do list: find out why two ex-cons attacked and almost killed her beloved uncle. But can she complete the task before she becomes the next victim?