Baby It’s You- The Project Plan


So anyways, I think it’s time that we had a chat about project management and self-publishing.

The book is done, the drafts are done…surely now it’s simply a matter of hitting publish on Amazon?


The thing is, as soon as you make a decision to self-publish, you become…wait for it…a publisher. And that means that you need a budget (we’ll talk about that next time) and a project plan. At the very least. The fact is, you need to do for yourself all the things that your publisher would normally do for you.

Really? Yes, really.

Now, I’ve done a few project plans in my life- I know a thing or two about them. There was a time I did them for a living, and the key to any good project plan is the following:

  • Work backwards. Yep. You heard me. Backwards. From your due/ live date.
  • Identify any dependencies and milestones on your critical path.
  • Ask the “what if” and “what has to happen before” questions.
  • Clarify (you’ll see this word used a lot below) and triple check everything- there is no such thing as assumption

Let’s work through this. Don’t worry, I’ll break down the steps in a separate post. Oh, as an aside, I’m only publishing as an ebook at this stage. If you’re also doing print on demand, you’ll have additional tasks that will include such things as barcodes.

  1. What day do you want to go live? Set your date. I’m an astrologer, so naturally, I’ve cast a chart for this. More importantly, my book finishes in Ubud, and as I’ll be there in a few weeks, that was always going to be my end point. Hubby and me at my launch party in a bar in Ubud.
  2. If you’re doing a pre-sale on Amazon you’ll need to have your final file in 10 days before the live date.
  3. Before you list on Amazon, you’ll need your:
  • Catalogue in Publication number (CIP)- allow 10 days
  • ISBN numbers for each format (available on the spot, but required for your CIP)
  • US Tax Nos…or the equivalent. Allow 8 weeks.
  • Your Synopsis/ description
  • Your cover
  • A file in the correct format
  1. File conversion. If you’re outsourcing this, allow ten working days, but clarify with your provider. For this you’ll need your:
  • CIP numbers
  • ISBN numbers
  • A Bio
  • A dedication
  • A cover
  • An acknowledgement
  1. If you’re outsourcing this, clarify with your provider. If not, allow sufficient time to pass through at least twice. I’d suggest allocating at least 2 weeks to this task- more if, like me, your talent is not in your attention to detail.
  2. Copy edit. Allow 4 weeks for your editor, and another 2-3 weeks for you to accept or reject any changes.
  3. Structural edit. Allow your editor 4-5 weeks (but clarify). Then schedule yourself (depending on your other workload) at least 4-6 weeks to absorb the feedback and make the required changes. If you need a second pass, this time could double or triple.
  4. If you’re outsourcing your cover, allow:
  • 2-4 weeks to go back and forward with your designer
  • 2-4 weeks to agree a design.

These are your major food groups, and will form your critical path.

If you’re doing promotions such as a blog tour, or getting advance reviews, you’ll need to allow time for your book to go out for these. You’ll also need to add tasks for these.

I’m launching this one quietly- the noise will come with number 2. As a result, my project plan for “Baby It’s You” looked a little like the pic below.

Screenshot 2015-04-25 08.02.52

In the absence of project management tools, I just knocked up a quick excel spreadsheet. It started life as a set of post it stickers along the wall- my very favourite way of planning projects.

Other hints?

  • Set your own deadlines and stick to them. These will be the dates on your critical path. If you were publishing with a traditional publisher you’d have deadlines- just because you’re doing it yourself is no reason to let your standards and schedule slip.
  • Don’t forget to add in time for obtaining quotes, agreeing quotes, researching suppliers (eg designers, editors etc), and, well, life to get in the way.
  • Mark your dependencies in a different colour or highlighter. Eg, ISBNs are a dependency for your conversion, your CIP request, and your Amazon listing.
  • Clarify due dates with your suppliers e.g. editor, designer, etc and those helping with your marketing
  • Project managers always have contingency up their sleeve…just don’t tell anyone (even yourself) about it…

My Tasks…

My tasks looked something like this. The dates are approximate e.g. my structural edit was done in November, with me commencing the rewrite in the middle of January.

Am I on target? Yes, but even though I factored in sufficient time to get everything done for the US tax numbers, I didn’t get off my fat arse to walk the application and paperwork down to the Post Office. As I result, I will be paying withholding tax for the first few weeks from my humungous royalties.

Cover 9/2/15- 31/3/15
Research designers 9/2/15-15/2/15
Quote 16/2/15-22/2/15
Version 1 23/2/15-8/3/15
Review changes 9/3/15- 15/3/15
Agree cover 16/3/15- 31/3/15
Edits 16/12/14-19/4/15
Structural Edit 16/12/15-11/1/15
Rewrite as required 12/1/15-22/2/15
Copy edit 23/2/15-22/3/15
Accept/reject changes 23/3/15-5/4/15
Proof reading 6/4/15-19/4/15
Numbers etc 9/2/15-19/4/15
US Tax numbers 9/2/15-5/4/15
ISBN numbers 6/04/15
CIP Numbers 6/4/15-19/4/15
File Conversion 20/4/15-2/5/15
Amazon 3/5/15-13/5/15
Amazon seller account 3/05/15
File to Amazon for pre-sale 3/05/15
Go Live 13/05/15
Launch Party- Ubud 13/05/15

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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