Am I going mildly out of order once again? Yes, but because this post has been highly requested, we’re going to go ahead and slot it in right here.
Because… y’all asked. There’s no reason other than that lol.
But also, this title is a lie. Sort of? I don’t know.
Basically, this right here is all about how to plan your publishing schedule. This means for your first book, and then, for all of the works beyond.
Just… stay with me here.
Elle’s Project Planner
ALSO OPEN THIS LINK IT’S AN ELLE FREEBIE BUT DON’T DO ANYTHING WITH IT UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE READ THIS POST.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure y’all have read two previous posts, which talks about how long things take and what order you can do them in, sort of. I’m going to break it down more with this post.
Both of these posts contain a very light overview of the process, from planning to loose plotting to writing to then editing and working with betas etc etc.
What we haven’t talked about is… when. When do you… do things.
Part of this, of course, has to do with how long it takes you to do things. The first time you do it is going to take longer than the second time, which will take longer than the third time. However, there’s also life’s variables which always pop up.
What I mean to say is… figuring out a publishing schedule is all about figuring out what’s right for you… and trial and error.
That stated, I was definitely given a loose timeline to follow, so let’s look at that first!
An Example Timeline
To start, please note that everything is based on when you are planning to release your book. The release date is your basic day, and then you work backwards for setting your goals, etc. Again, this is the timeline I was given when I first started this process.
R = Release Day
R – 1 week = Submit final versions for release
R – 3 weeks = Push advertisement on social media
R – 4-6 weeks = Send out Advanced Reader Copies
R – 8 weeks = Format your manuscript and order proofs.
R – 12 weeks = Announce Pre-Order
R – 14 weeks = Submit manuscript to editor
R – 18 weeks = Cover Reveal
R – 20 weeks = Send to betas
R – 22 weeks = Title Reveal
R – 22 weeks = Find Betas and ARCs
R – 26 weeks = Find Editor
R – 30 weeks = Find Cover Designer
Now, you will notice that no where in this have I mentioned the length of time it takes to write, and that’s because it changes by the person. So, keep that in mind. Also, this is what was recommended to me.
I hate it. Let me tell you why this did NOT work for me and why I don’t agree with it and it drives me insane that this is the timeline people recommend.
For starters, this whole setup is based on the idea of pushing for sales on release day only, with no understanding that you can push later. Also, a cover reveal without a pre-order link? People are going to forget about it.
Sending out ARCs 6 weeks before release? People are going to read and post about it weeks before release, which loses hype.
Honestly… this is garbage imo, but some people do follow this formula.
Another Example Timeline
Here’s another timeline, this one coming from some of the pros. I’ve seen this in action, time and again, by a number of authors who have 20 plus books out. Again, keep in mind here, these are PROs. They already have their editor and a solid arc team and betas. They have their process down. But, it can also give you an idea of how they operate.
R = Release Day
R – 2 weeks = Send to ARCs
R – 4 weeks = Send to Editor
R – 6 weeks = Send to Betas
R – 8 weeks = Cover Reveal/Pre-Order Live
R – 10 weeks = They start the project
R = 10 years ago = They purchased a pre-made cover
Again, these are PROs. I’ve seen it happen. They have an idea, and ten weeks later they’re releasing the book. It’s crazy to watch happen in real time, BUT! This is an example as to how, once you’ve locked down your people and your process, it gets easier and flows every single time.
HOW LONG THINGS SHOULD TAKE
Now, all of that stated… there’s some things which simply take time, and you have to be aware of how much time it takes. Now, while I won’t say anything should be done in a certain amount of time, I can tell you how much time MINIMUM to expect certain things to take.
Working from release back…
ARCs – Always give them 2-3 weeks. They’re going to need time to actually read the book and write the review.
Editors – Expect them to need about 4 weeks with your manuscript… also give yourself about 2 weeks to edit once you’ve received back thoughts.
Betas – Expect them to take about 4 weeks, if not more, depending on their schedules.
Cover Design – This should take a few weeks, however, many cover designers schedule far in advance.
Now, let’s apply that to MY timeline!
Again, please keep in mind, I have been writing for a very long time. I know how long it takes me to write a certain amount of words. I know how long it takes me to edit a certain amount of words.
That stated, life is busy, so I give myself extra time throughout all of this. I’ll note in parenthesis how long things actually take me, while writing down how long I give myself first. Because I schedule time for the disasters, it means when things fall apart, I’m not doomed.
R = Release Day
R – 1 week (but really once ARCs are out) = Marketing Push
R – 2 weeks (but often goes out 3 weeks before) = Send to ARCs + Order Proof
R – 3 weeks (but often 4 weeks before) = ARC Call + Format Manuscript
R – 5 weeks (but normally I’ve been doing this throughout) = Final Edits / Proofing
R – 8 weeks (but often I’ve already sent out the first half) = Send to Betas / Editors
R – 12 weeks (a week or two before the release of the previous book) = Cover Reveal / Pre-Order
R – 16 weeks (or you know whenever) = Start writing
So by this math… I take about 8 weeks to write the book, Betas have 3 weeks, I have 12 weeks of pre-orders available, I have 2 weeks to edit, 2 weeks to format, and 3 weeks for my ARC readers…
Is it crazy? Maybe, but it works.
NOW HOW THE HECK DO I FIGURE THIS OUT FOR MYSELF?
So listen, if this is your first book, the simple fact is, you cannot know how long it is going to take you to do things… so!
Keep in mind, first of all, that you can always change the pre-order date once you’re much closer to the release. I know a number of authors who set the pre-order date to a year from now, and once it is done and edited and formatted and ready to head out to ARC readers, they change and announce the release date!
So if that’s your big concern, don’t worry about it!
But once you do have your process down and you sort of know what you’re doing?
That’s what the Project Planning Spreadsheet is for!
So listen, you open this up, and you put in your various plot ideas and projects, etc. Can you fill it in with an idea for how long things will take? Sure. Can you use it to keep track of how long things actually take? Sure!
Use it how you want! I have included an example slide, so you can see it with colors, etc. That stated, make a copy of it and go from there. I love using this to keep track and plan things.
Just remember, nothing is set in stone until release day, and if you need to, you can change that.
I hope this all made sense.
Please Note: This post was originally published and share on Elle’s Authoring Chaos Patreon on 18 April 2022.