Ah, deadlines! We know all about them: we’ve met them, missed them and stressed over them but few of us love them.
In the past, you have been given deadlines or had to work to them, but now, as a business owner, you have to set deadlines for yourself, otherwise you risk never get anything of significance finished.
When I worked in publishing my life was ruled by deadlines. I carried a pile of schedules around with me everywhere. When I worked at BBC Books all the project editors would stuff themselves in an overcrowded room on Monday morning at 10 o’clock and, along with representatives from the Production, Design and Marketing departments, we would go over every single schedule for every single book on the list.
Was it stressful? Heck, yes! Imagine explaining to 25-30 people why you had missed a deadline and answering the question ‘When are you going to do that?’ over 30 times in 3 hours (we had to cover schedules for cover blurbs, marketing material and design briefs as well as for the book itself). I can feel my blood pressure mounting just thinking about it…No wonder I’m still slightly deadline-averse today.
The problem is that avoiding deadlines is counter-productive because meeting a deadline is the only way to get things done. Deadlines are a sign of a commitment. When you set a time and day for getting something finished you are committing to achieving that NO MATTER WHAT!
Unless you are a deadline diva I’ll make a small wager that making a decision to commit to doing something brings out all your best excuses: “I would say that I’d definitely do it but…”
Why you need a deadline
When it comes to getting published, if you don’t set a deadline, you’ll probably never have a book. It’s that simple. A book can be one of those projects that just keeps on getting delayed. So, how do you go about setting a deadline that is going to:
- Motivate you and keep you excited.
- Give you the right amount of time to get the work done to a standard that is acceptable to you.
- Ensure you have time to get other essential work done.
A deadline is not just a stick, it is a carrot too. That deadline gives you an end-point to aim for – a day when you can celebrate completing a significant project in moving forward with your business.
Key benefits of a deadline
- It allows you to create a schedule so you know when you need to do all your other book-related work, like preparing marketing materials and organising any editorial help you need.
- It keeps you on track by telling when you need to sit down and write (even though you just want to slob in front of the telly)
- It helps with marketing and promotion because you can tell people when to look for it (because you know when it will be finished).
There is no magic trick to setting a deadline. All you have to do is decide when you want to publish your book then work out what you need to do to get the relevant work done. If it looks unachievable – or just plain silly – you will simply need to decide whether to invest more time or spend more money. It’s as simple as that.
Deadlines are powerful things. They make us sweat a bit, and they make us a bit obsessed but their real power lies in their ability to motivate us to actually do the work. That is the real power of a deadline. You might dislike them and they might make you feel uncomfortable but that’s fine, because that is what they are there for. They drag us out of our comfort zones and force us to achieve, which after all, is what we want.
So go on, set a deadline for your book and tell someone about it. Commit to getting published and the book will follow.
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