At the start of every year, I sit down to figure out what books I’m launching and when I’d like to launch by.
This is a really critical part of keeping my author business running, because any delay or setbacks in my production schedule can mess up my workflow and my income.
For example, if I don’t have a manuscript written and ready for production by a set date, it keeps my publishers waiting and it delays my ability to get started on future projects. So I make sure I map out all the time I need right from the very start.
In 2021, I plan to launch two books and write 4 manuscripts, and I’m going to show you exactly how I planned my calendar in today’s article.
Tools I Use:
I use a Trello Board to map out my book launches.
You can plan out your launches any way you like, but if you’d like to follow my exact process and template, you can grab this board for just $7.00 in the Launch Shop (coming October 1st – check back soon for a link!)
Step One: Plan Out All Of Your Deadlines:
Before you can actually set solid deadlines in your calendar, you really need to understand your strengths and limitations.
For example, if you’re a mother who works full-time, you may only have 2 hours per day to dedicate to book stuff. So it’s unrealistic to plan out seven book launches (unless you’re prepared to outsource help and invest the resources to make it happen).
The three things I like to look at each year are my existing committments, my energy, and my budget. Each one of these can impact my book production timeline.
So for example, I can launch up to four books per year because I’ve done it, but I also know that it robs me of my energy and impacts other areas of my life (such as my social life, my client calls, my mental wellbeing)… which is why I choose to cap my launches at a maximum of 2 per year.
Another consideration is that, at this point in time, it takes about 3 months for me to generate $2k (which is my production budget for each book). I always give myself up to 9 months to launch a book, but I need that production budget to generate before I enter the production phrase of my book launch schedule, so I’m very strategic in how I space out my launch deadlines and all the to-dos in between.
So once you’ve taken the time to look at each area of your life and map out a realistic launch timeline, you can start putting it all together. In my Trello board, I make a masterlist of all the books I plan to write and publish so that I have an overview of what I’m working on:
As you’ll see later in this article, I was really intentional about how I spaced out my deadlines.
You’ll see that I give myself a minimum of 3 months to write each book, as well as 5 months of publishing and launch time (adding up to 8 – 9 months per book launch). I also scheduled in a break period where I am launching, but I’m not writing, so I have space to take a month off if I need to and recharge.
The best thing about this schedule is that I can be flexible and adapt it if I need to (especially because some of my books are handled by a publishing house and I need to be able to match their ever-changing production timeline).
Step Two: Break Down Your Schedule By Week
Now that you have clarity on when your deadlines are, you can break down the launch steps.
In my Trello board template, I have the following things in place to make this super easy for you:
- A “to-dos” refresher list for every stage of your book launch (+ an overview of all 5 “launch phases”)
- A column for every month of the year where you can plan your to-dos week by week and see a visual overview of all your current launch timelines.
If you’re new to publishing and don’t have a clue what to do be doing and when, this template takes all the guesswork out of it for you.
But regardless of whether you’re using the template or not, what I would recommend is to make a masterlist of all the things you need to do at each stage of your book launch, then schedule these to-dos in week-by-week in some kind of planner, checklist. calendar, etc.
Now, in my Trello board, I often have book launch timelines overlap.
For example, in the duration of each book I launch, I’m also writing two different books. So I keep my “publishing and launch” to-dos in the top row, and my “writing” to-dos in the bottom row, because these are essentially two different project types I’m working on.
The reason this is important? If you only focus on one or the other, you’re going to run into problems later. What happens when you run out of manuscripts to send to production? What happens when income traction for your new releases is halted because you’re trying to catch up with writing?
You need to be able to balance both in a way that aligns with your personal schedule–and this might look completely different to how I do it (e.g. 6 months of pure writing, 6 months of pure publishing), but regardless, it needs to be considered.
While juggling two book projects might seem like a lot to handle at once, the reality is that I might only be writing 3 chapters per week and handling just one launch task (such as book formatting). So it’s actually not a lot, and it’s spaced out perfectly for me to stay on schedule and maintain my energy levels.
Step Three: Plan Out Your Individual To-Dos
Once you have an idea of what phases and tasks you’ll be handling each week, you can get even more specific by creating a checklist of your step-by-step to-dos.
So overall, your book launch timeline might look like this:
Project = [your book name]
Month = [current launch phrase (e.g. production)] + [weekly focus (e.g. interior)]
Checklist = (1) source map for front matter, (2) format manuscript for mobi and print
Make sense? The difference with the Trello board is that it’s organised by card and column (similar to how you might organise folders on a computer).
To show you an example of my book launch to-dos, here’s what two month’s worth of launch tasks look like in my production phrase for Saving Homecoming With Ryan Rupert:
And that’s about it!
I hope this helped you figure out how you can plan more effective book launch calendars. If it did, you might consider sharing this article with a writing friend who would also find it useful!
Remember, if you want to grab my Trello Book Launch Calendar Template, it’s available in my Launch Shop for just $7.00!
Written by Pagan Malcolm
Pagan is a copywriter and coach helping fiction authors tell & sell their story.