A few weeks ago, Jeanne told us about her plan to release The Demon Always Wins in September (yay!). In the comments section, I asked about her publishing schedule, and then jumped back into some deadlines for the day job and never got back to the conversation.
But with Jeanne and Jilly nailing down their 2018 self-publishing plans, the need to batten down the hatches with my own plan has been looming large in my mind. Like many of the ladies, I’ve joined Marie Force’s self-publishing loop, followed the work of self-publishing guru Mark Dawson, and tried to keep up with the ever-changing book marketing landscape. I’ve also had another great resource in some friends who moved from traditional to self- or hybrid-publishing, including Mindy Klasky, whose book The Rational Writer: Nuts and Bolts I discussed in a writing tools and resources post.
The take-away from all of this data is I know a lot of the what of self-publishing, and a good deal of the the how. The missing data, though, is the when.
I’ve chosen my ‘top three’ editors and will send them all the same sample pages in a matter of weeks. But I still have to review their input, determine the best fit, and get on the final choice’s editing calendar (and that’s assuming she wants to work with me!). Editing finish date: unknown.
The editor’s input is just the first step in the editing process. Then I have to address the comments. Devise a plan. Debrief and discuss with the editor. Reach out to other writers for advice and solace and booze (not necessarily in that order). As Jilly reported in yesterday’s post, that’s a long and arduous process. After that, I have to get on the calendars of a copy editor, a proofreader, and – at least for the early books – a formatter. Timeframe for having the book content ready for its world debut: unknown.
I also have the ‘top three’ cover artists lined up, but I haven’t discussed their process and don’t even know how I’ll choose one of them. Then there’s the iteration on the work product, picking the fonts and colors, and sweating all the details. Length of time to have a final cover in hand: unknown.
Then there’s the marketing. Oh, the marketing! Website and newsletter and ARCs and review sites and the push to get early and ongoing reviews. Time to get from finished product to ready-to-launch: really unknown.
If all of this sounds terrifying, it is. If it seems like an incentive to jump right to the aforementioned solace and booze, it’s that as well. But it’s also exciting! And exhilarating! And possibly even manageable.
My approach was to estimate the timeframe for each of these steps using timelines others have cited (look to self-pub websites, blogs, and groups), pad that timeline generously, and draw a circle on the calendar that seems reasonably achievable. Because I’m planning a long series (2 novellas and 5 novels), I also had to consider the series end-date target. The last novella is going to be a Christmas story, so I want to release it in November, 2019.
I sat with a calendar for a long time and ran through a lot of scenarios. And now I can finally announce a release date (well month, anyway) for the kickoff novella of the Harrow’s Finest Five series: November 2018!
What happens between now and then will remain – at least partially – unknown. But good, bad, or ugly, 2018 is going to be one hell of a ride!