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Planning an Overlapping Book Release Schedule

When I first sat down and thought about what a full time release schedule might look like, I was keenly aware that the output of some authors was through the roof. I’m talking 30 day turnarounds – a new book every month. It seemed crazy to me (and still does).

I tweaked the figures, mapped out a schedule, and the best I could come up with was a book release every 8 weeks, assuming:

  • 2 weeks to full outline
  • 3 weeks writing (5000 words per day)
  • 3 weeks editing (4 rounds of edits)

And for any published authors reading this, you’ll see straight away that I made one massively incorrect assumption – that the book would release right at the end of the editing process.

What about the cover? The blurb? The beta-reading process? The ARC review time period? The pre-order period? Unforeseen delays? Meteor strikes?

After taking all of that into account, the actual length of any one book starts to come closer to 14 weeks, as follows…

(Note that each column represents one week, with the number in brackets representing the hours per day on that task. I only have 3 rows per book to allow for listing multiple tasks that fall on the same week, such as the week where I need to make the cover, submit the book to beta readers, and set up the Amazon pre-order page).

 

 

(Click to make bigger)

And this is the point where I started to despair – one book every 14 weeks? No way is that enough output to remain relevant in the face of some stiff competition. Thankfully, I very quickly realised that the trick was to stagger the book schedule, so that I am always working on more than one book at a time.

By tweaking the schedule and then overlaying the next book, we have something that looks like this:

 

 

Now I’ve actually done two things here:

  1. Stretched out the outlining phase to take place over a much longer period, just with less daily time allocated (my brain works like this better, allowing more time for ideas to percolate and evolve)
  2. Taken the resulting single-book schedule and copied it with a staggered offset

And just like that, I now have a six week release schedule, rather than 14 weeks.

This all seems pretty simple in hindsight, but it was a real ‘ah-hah’ moment for me – realising that more than one book can be worked on at the same time. While I’m writing book ‘B’, I’m also outlining book ‘C’, as well as running book ‘A’ through the beta-reading process and preparing it for release.

Once we ramp up the schedule, it looks something like this:

 

 

It looks complicated, and I’ve taken a few liberties for the purpose of this blog post, but the schedule is actually put together in such a way to ensure that I only have one ‘major’ task taking place at any one time, and then either one or two minor tasks for the rest of the day. I’m never going to be in full writing mode at the same time as full editing mode, for instance.

I also try not to allocate more than 8 hours total in a day, since this schedule only lists things related to the physical writing of the book, and not additional stuff like:

  • Marketing / mailing list growth
  • Ad management
  • Additional novellas / deleted scenes / extended epilogues
  • Blog posts and website work
  • Business-related support

All of that fun stuff gets to take place after the children have gone to bed.

Ah, the life of a writer.

Is it working? So far it seems to be. It helps immensely if I can get the main task finished before lunch, to give me a headspace reset for the other tasks in the afternoon, but so far skipping between books hasn’t caused any major problems. I’m still pretty early into this schedule, though, and I haven’t reached the point where I’ll have 3 books on the go at once, so I guess the only way to know is to wait and see.

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