When you are clear about you purpose in publishing a book, you need to get started making a plan. This is the second Key to Publishing Success and it’s a very big key!
As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. That is reason enough to create a book project plan. But there is more to it than simply avoiding failure, in fact, it’s about creating success.
In my experience, if you do not have a solid plan in place for any project that you undertake, you are likely to lose your way with it, give up before you are finished or simply get it wrong in some way that causes you so much confusion and doubt that you set it aside and never return to it.
When I worked as a project editor in a busy publishing house, I had no choice but to have a project plan. This project plan was constructed from a number of key documents made up of:
- Book proposal (created by the author)
- Publishing proposal (created by the commissioning editor)
- Publishing specifications and schedule (created by the team)
All of these plans recorded a series of key decisions about the title in question.
The book proposal
This is the document presented to a commissioning editor by the author. It includes a title, synopsis, contents page, sample chapter and suggested book spec (price, length, size).
The Publishing Proposal
This document combines some elements of the book proposal (though edited and amended by the commissioning editor in conjunction with the author), sales information such as an assessment of the marketplace, sales projection, and details such as a publication date, production costings and a rough schedule.
The Book Spec and Schedule
After a book is commissioned, details such as the book specifications – price, number of pages, size of the book, delivery date (detailing when the book will be delivered by the author), publication date, number of illustrations, budget, etc – and the production schedule (a firmed up schedule created by the editor, art department and production department) are all finalised and agreed. This amended document is the one the production team will use in creating the book.
As a self-publishing author some of these details will be relevant to you and some will not. You will also need to add details as to how you are going to market the book in far more detail and you will need to create a writing schedule, too.
What are the benefits of a book project plan?
Here are five key reasons why a project plan can help you to get your book written and published.
- All the key decisions about the book are made before you begin writing or promoting the book.
- The decisions are made step-by-step and in an organised way so they are not overwhelming.
- Every decision that is made is written down.
- The project is organised from the outset so you get it done faster.
- Any problems with the book can be easily identified and solved early on so they do not disrupt progress later on.
A project plan gives you a wonderful feeling of being organised and in control, and when it comes to publishing a book, this is essential as the process can be complex. As the book gets close to its publication date, there is a lot to do and things can get hectic and it is at this stage that a solid plan can make a huge difference to your success. It’s easy to lose focus when the situation gets demanding but with a good plan at your side, you can avoid making decisions on the hoof and regretting them later.