Writing is a Business. Get used to it.

I recently read on one of my favorite blogs, Writer’s Guide to E-publishing, about D.D. Scott’s production schedule. Production schedule? Was I supposed to devise some master schedule? Well, I kind of have a plan, but nothing as well plotted and organized as D.D.s. That woman is a writing machine. Go D.D.!

For me, this whole indie publishing journey has been a whirlwind of learning new tasks. From creating a social media platform to budgeting, finding a good editor, designing cover art–the lists go on and on. I thought I’d done plenty of research to get me going, but nothing has prepared me for how much there really is to do–besides writing great books—a challenging feat in and of itself.

From the time I decided to indie-publish in May, to my September 24th release date for Heaven is for Heroes (Yikes! That’s this Saturday already), I had almost five months to prepare. I knew I would need at least that much time to take care of all the details I had on my list—now known as my production schedule. I feel somewhat prepared and hopefully have learned plenty along the way that will make future endeavors easier, but what I’ve learned is that a production schedule goes beyond a daily page count if you want to be published, traditionally or otherwise.

There is a reason traditionally published books take 18 months to get out onto the shelves. I haven’t even discussed getting ARCs to reviewers and the marketing and promotion that is required way ahead of time to actually sell the book when it does come out. Reviewers require three to six months advanced copies. This is not going to happen in my current plan. Reviews from big name reviewers cost money and most won’t even consider reviewing Indi-pubbed books. I’ll keep searching out reviewers, but in the case of my current book, I’ve asked readers right under my bio on the last page, “If you enjoyed this book, please go to Amazon.com and give it a review.” If they hated it, hopefully they won’t bother:)

 Contrary to popular belief, self-publishing doesn’t mean slapping a book up onto Amazon and setting it free. Although I’m pretty sure that many writers do just that. There is a dredge of terrible e-books out there that should never see the light of day and are keeping the e-book industry on the “fringes of acceptable writing society.” I don’t want mine to be among them, so quality for me is first and foremost. At the same time, production and creating a back list of books is the quickest way to find e-publishing success. So once again, I’m trying to find balance. On my current plan, my cyber bookshelf will have two titles for 2011 and two, possibly three, for 2012. I have committed to releasing On Thin Ice in December and Savage Cinderella in the spring of 2012. These are two stories I already had written and felt were more or less ready to go.  I’m not so convinced after my experience with HIFH and all the work that went into creating the cover, the book trailer, revising, editing, revising, editing, revising…oh, did I say revising? I dare you to find the one typo that I missed on the two hundred copies I’ve already had printed! My current WIP, 21 Days should be out in June and the first book in a dystopian trilogy I’m planning for next winter should be ready by November.

 To meet those deadlines, I need to create a very specific production schedule, get organized, stay focused, and write my little fingers off. The plan is to have five or six titles in my backlist so that the long-tail sales start to gain momentum and I’ll start to see my profit margin grow in the next year. My STG for 2012 is to make back my investment and cover the cost of my conferences. LTG is to make enough profit to hire help, i.e.: a publicist and personal assistant to handle marketing and promotions. For more details on my marketing plan, stop on over to Market Or Die  (MOD) where I’m guest blogging for Jennifer Fusco  (I’ve always wanted to be in two places at once—thank you cyberspace).

I had the good fortune of hearing Kristan Higgins speak at the CT RWA meeting this month about the “countdown to launch” and all the necessary and suggested steps to take in the final three months before a book release. The list is a bit daunting, but even more so are the details involved in each task. You have to have your team in place and create a schedule that includes deadlines that you can adhere to. Cover art should be done at least three months before book release. A trailer, if you do one, should be done 2-3 months in advance, and you need to give editing a lot of time and consideration. Hire a professional and expect that there will be a lot of back and forth revisions. This takes time. I have three months to get ready for the release of On Thin Ice. I believe I’m a bit behind on my production schedule.  I’m not whining—at least I hope I’m not—but I don’t want to sugar coat the work involved in self-publishing, and the necessity of getting organized. I happen to work really well with deadlines, so I create them and work my butt off to meet them, but there is a huge learning curve, way too much for one person to do, and a huge investment in both time and up-front costs, so–

 Today’s Scribe Secret: No matter where you are in your writing career, create a production schedule, set goals (short and long term), and treat your writing like a business. If you are working toward publication, this is the job. Are you ready?

Anyone who comments on both the Scribes blog and MOD will be entered to win a free e-book copy of Heaven is for Heroes. Contest runs until midnight Thursday, September 22nd. The winner will be selected randomly and announced on both blogs next Tuesday, September 27th.

Available September 24th
Heaven Is For Heroes out September 24th

Win a FREE e-book copy!

Available this Saturday on my website www.pjsharon.com or wherever e-books are sold.


19 thoughts on “Writing is a Business. Get used to it.”

  1. That’s a great post, PJ. I have a lot of books coming out, and I never think to start marketing/promoting them until the week of release (mainly because there are too many of them as it is…) A production/marketing plan is definitely something I need to work on!

  2. Great post PJ! I couldn’t agree more about needing a production schedule. I’ve been thinking about Kristan’s fabulous presentation on Countdown to Launch and I wonder if we Indie Pub’ers need to modify the timing a bit since we are doing everything ourselves. Oh how I need a staff! But in the meantime, I’ve painted myself into a corner and I might have to step on the wet paint! I only gave myself 2.5 months from the time I finished my 1st draft until launch and that is NO WHERE NEAR ENOUGH TIME! I did it for specific reasons, but live and learn. I might have to push my launch off by a few weeks which I do not want to do, but if the book isn’t ready, it isn’t ready. I’ll be sure to create a better production schedule next time!

  3. Hi, Jo. That sounds like a good problem to have. Too many books is a good thing…I think. LOL

    I hear you J. I did the same thing with the back to back release Idea. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s definitely going to keep me scrambling. As you said, live and learn. I did give myself the three months between, but I have much to do in that three months. I think it would be different if we were only e-publishing and not trying to do the hard copy selling as well. It is almost like we are hybrid-publishing…ooooh…a new buzz word…what do you think?

  4. Hey PJ – I have been tossing the idea to self-pub on a novella I just did and if I should decide to go that route, I know between you and Jennifer Fusco (Market or Die) I would find a wealth of information. I too was lucky enough to hear Kristan speak at that meeting and thankful to get so many helpful tips. Can’t wait to reat “Heaven Is For Heros”. Contratulations on your release.

  5. Watching you and J do this has been a real eye-opener for me. Wowza! There’s a lot involved to getting it done! But I’ve seen the two of you reach out of your comfort zones the past few months, and it’s inspiring. Looking forward to that indie-pubbing roundtable too.

  6. LOL, PJ, and thanks sooo much for The WG2E and personal shout-out too!

    You rock!!!

    And no worries on your Production Schedule…all that matters is that you do what’s best for you and your muses too!

    My muses tend to soar in insanity…thus my crazy-arss schedule!!! LOL!!!

    Cheers, Y’All, and Happy Writing!!!

    P.S. I just signed-up to follow y’all too!

  7. This is a great post, Paula. You have really outdone yourself with taking all the steps possible to see your work succeed. Most of all, you have a great product, honey. I wish you all the luck in the world.

  8. Nice to see you here, D.D. I love WG2E. Much of what I’ve learned about e-pubbing has been from you! It’s true that we all have to find our own way and find what works best for our individual styles and needs. You’ve set the bar pretty high–you’re an inspiration.

  9. Wow PJ! This Saturday? I’m super excited and thrilled for you. I’ll be sure to post about your book on my Facebook wall. You have my full support and I’ll be ready to buy my copy of Heaven is for Heroes!
    Come Saturday, give yourself some time to sit back, breathe and enjoy the moment. When it goes live it will be like birthing your first child =)
    Here’s an early congrats and cheers to you!!

  10. Thank you so much Lisa. The support of my friends, family and fellow writers has been amazing. I appreciate the FB post. Every bit of PR can only help. I hope you enjoy the book.

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