Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Planning Your Book Production Calendar

The other day, I was telling one of my friends how close I am to finishing the rough draft for my second book.

“Oh, I can’t wait to read it!” she said. “So I should look for it on Amazon sometime soon, right?”

I smiled to myself and then explained that my rough draft doesn’t quite equate to the finished, published version. It’s just one of the milestones in the process.

My day job involves managing catalog development at my workplace, and I’ve learned that the best way to plan catalog production is to work backwards. Your book project planning can work much the same way.

Start with the finish line in sight
When I say “work backwards,” I mean you must first determine your deadline or define your expectation. Do you want your book to be orderable in December? What do you have to do to achieve that?

For example, let’s take a look at two key dates on the timeline of my first book... in reverse.
  • November 30, 2010 – Published, available on Amazon.com
  • November 4, 2010 – Uploaded manuscript to self-publishing service
Let’s pause right there. When I bought my self-publishing program with Xulon Press, my author service representative told me that the physical production process could take up to 90 days. You need to plan for how long the process could take, and if it gets done sooner (as in my case), that’s icing on the cake.

Some other key steps in your planning process should include:
  • Researching your publishing options: This is an ongoing project (unless you have a publishing house just waiting for your manuscript or an agent who is working to sell your book for you).
  • Editing your draft: If you are confident in your command of the English language and undertake the task yourself, you will have to keep yourself accountable to your book’s calendar. If you contract a professional editor, you’ll need to get a quote up front to help you estimate the time factor involved.
  • Completing your rough draft: This is a huge achievement, but don’t give in to the temptation to sit back and relax. You still have a lot of work in front of you.
  • Getting started: As I talked about in my previous post on metrics, it’s important to set word and page count goals to keep yourself disciplined and accountable. Sure, your estimates are subject to change, but they give you something to work toward and help keep you on track.
Here’s the heart of the matter: Starting your book production with the goal in sight is really the only way to start.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Summertime Reminds Me to Try New Things

Florida already feels like summertime outside, and summer still gets me excited – even though I’m no longer a student and don’t get to enjoy an actual summer break.

No, summertime makes me excited, because for the second year in a row, I'm going on a mission trip. Last year, I went to Nicaragua with Chosen Children Ministries. This year, I’m helping my church – Spring Hill Baptist – with our missions program and a trip to Montana to work with some of our missionaries.

There are two things I love most about mission trips. The first is time set apart to spend time with God and serve Him while seeking to make a difference in other people’s lives. Daily life is so burdened with responsibilities and demands; being able to leave them behind and focus on the One who matters most is indescribably refreshing.

The second is something I learned to love while in Nicaragua: the chance to try new things. We haven’t even boarded the first flight, and already I’m experiencing this blessing.

During our first team meeting, my pastor asked who would be interested in working with puppets. I have never worked with puppets but wanted to give them a try – so my hand shot up along with several teenagers’ hands.

My pastor looked my way and smiled. “Well, Kristen, since you’re the oldest, why don’t you head up puppets.”

Oh boy, now you’ve done it. I thought. I don’t have a clue where to start.
But that turned out to be the best part. My pastor, knowing how I enjoy writing, suggested I write the puppet skits. So I cranked out four skits on the Fruit of the Spirit that follow a frog, a ditzy red head, her friend Daniel and their Sunday school teacher. My puppet teammates and I have had a blast running through the skits and recording them – and now we’re just about ready to start practicing with the puppets themselves.
Our trip starts in less than a month. And I am so excited to see what God is going to teach me and how He may see fit to use me.
I know this post isn’t really about how to be a better writer, but in some ways, it is. Summer is almost here, and there’s no better time to try new things.