• Dana Ellington

Gettin' It In...


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...book production I mean. I'm talking about how to fit self-publishing your book into your busy life. Whew.


Yeah, so back when I first started self-publishing my work, I had a full time job and a kid in high school. I also managed to go back to school myself for my masters degree. To say my days were jam packed with to-dos would be accurate. Yet I managed to fit in producing not one, but four books in four years.


But now, folks have to add in the changes all the craziness that came with 2020 like: working from home, pandemic fatigue, virtual learning, an overdue wake up call to the devastation systemic racism wreaks on society, and how over consumption is screwing up the planet, just to name a few. Despite these (*spoiler alert*, cliche ahead) unprecedented times, I'm finding that with just a few minor tweaks, my process still works.


I figured now would be as good a time as any to introduce it to new writers who may be looking to turn their 2020 survival stories into books.



Planning

You need a road map of sorts so you know what it is you're working toward; what it is you want to accomplish. You can consider this the sort of, long-term goal setting part of the process if you'd like. I like to complete these steps at least 30 days before I plan on putting words to page, and six or seven months before I want to have my physical books in my stock. Here's what I do:

  • Get a monthly calendar for each of the next 6 to 12 months. The monthly spread needs to be big enough to write on. I prefer a desk calendar or large wall calendar. I prefer something big enough to post / hang on the wall in my office / apartment where I can see it every day.


  • Block off days each month that I KNOW, without a doubt, I will not be doing anything work related. For me that means Sundays, as those are my self-care days; next I'll mark off me and my daughter's birthday weeks. We may or may not celebrate together but for sure, I know I'll want those days free to do whatever comes to mind. After that, it's holidays and other major family days, again, I know I don't want work to interfere with my family time. In the before times, I'd mark off travel days that were related to work. For example, if I was flying or driving to do an event, I'd mark off the days I was doing the actual traveling because I knew those were days I wanted to focus on the trip and not be bogged down with having to squeeze some work in between airports or rest stops along the highway.


  • Next, mark dates and times of any doctors appointments, work meetings, school and sporting events. I'd be sure to include travel time as well. Say my doctor's appointment was at 2pm. If it was going to take me 10 minutes to get there, then I'd mark the time for the appointment as 1:45 - 3:00 pm.

I bet you're wondering when I'm going to get to the book stuff, huh? Trust me, it's coming up. In fact...

  • Finally, I'd highlight the day I wanted my book ready to hit the market. If you're doing a print version, this is the day you want the books physically in stock. For a digital edition, this is the day it's uploaded and ready for sale. If you're doing both print and digital, I'd list the print date as there's a touch more that goes into fixing any issues with a print book than with digital.


  • From there, I'd work backwards and highlight the milestones I needed to hit, and when, in order to meet my "in stock" date.

Say you're not sure what those milestones are? I've got you, click HERE for a simple milestones check list you can use as a guide. This list is for a fiction book with no illustrations or pictures. Feel free to modify it to fit the type of book you're working on.


What's that? You need help modifying it? I can help with that as well. But let me finish this blog post first then I'll tell you how.


Alright, once I got my plan all situated, I could move on to...


Scheduling

(*heads up, another cliche ahead*) Here's where the rubber meets the road. Where the 'plan' is a future look at what I WANT to happen, my schedule is based on the present, the what IS happening. I prep my schedule on a monthly, weekly, daily basis. Might sound a bit excessive, but I'm addicted to planners and colorful pens. The more time I get to spend decorating a planner, the happier I am. Does it increase my productivity? Doubt it. But I do manage to meet most of my deadlines along the way though so there must be something in the repetition of it all that keeps me moving forward. Anyway, however you do it, here's how I do when it comes to scheduling:

  • Fill in my monthly calendar based on my plan - make any changes that came up between when I finished my plan and now. I use the same order as I did with my plan: personal days, days when I knew I wouldn't be doing any work, next appointments and such, then finally any milestones I needed to hit that month.


  • Next, I plan the week. What tasks and activities have to happen in order for me to live life and hit my milestones. At this level I'm color coding tasks and events, drawing boxes around blocks of time if a task or activity is going to take an hour or more.


  • Finally, each day I take a look at what has to happen that day. If any tweaks need to be made, I make 'em, but for the most part, what I plotted out for that day in my weekly schedule is fine and I can get to work.



I would imagine, if you've never written a book before, this may seem to be a complicated process.


Here's where I tell you how I can help. I just so happen to coach new writers through the entire self-publishing process. Click HERE to book a strategy session where I can help you complete your full 6 - 12 month plan and first month's schedule, all within 90 minutes.


Okay, enough marketing, back to the blog post. Bottom line, this process is what I used to self-publish four books from blank page to print and digital editions, in as many years, all while single parenting a teenager through high school, working a full time job, and earning a master's degree. I'm confident it can help you achieve your self-publishing dreams as well.


Alright, going to end it here. Of course, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Feel free to share the post with anyone you think might benefit from this info, I appreciate the show of support.


For a visual edition of this post, be sure to visit my YouTube channel.


As always, sending love & inspiration,

Dana


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