A Three Year Publishing Plan

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on July 10, 2012 in Productivity & Organization
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Recently we talked about outlining your writing career. Basically it's about focusing on long-term goals which will ultimately shape your short-term plans (like your weekly to-do list). We talked about how this kind of career outline can benefit writers of all types including authors, bloggers, and freelance writers.

After that, I came up with my own three year publishing plan specifically for books and e-books (some of which I've made good progress on already and some of which I've been wanting to start). Here's how I did it.

  • I made a list of all projects or series I wanted to pursue during that three-year period.
  • I came up with an estimate for completing each draft based on how many working days I have per month and how many hours I can devote to my own publishing projects each of those days.
  • I laid out the next three years in three-month groups.
  • I grouped projects in a logical way that would give me both diversity in my work and a steady publishing schedule for any series involved.

While I won't share the details of specific projects here, I'll give you a couple of examples.

July - September 2012

During these three months I'm finishing my primary edits on The Query-Free Freelancer book and writing a short e-book to be released through All Freelance Writing.

More specifically, I'm spending July on basic edits and proofreading (which is coming along nicely). August will involve new interviews and research for expansions in the book (because I've already decided to cut a lot out and add new sections). And September will involve putting that new and edited work together into an official second draft that I can send out for professional editing.

October - December 2012

These three months will be similar to the previous three months. But instead of doing a draft of my nonfiction book, I'll be writing the full first draft of the first book in my new murder mystery series under one of my pen names. Technically this book was already started, but I lost some important edits during a hard drive crash a while back (somehow my flash drive was also corrupted), and it completely threw me. So I put it on the shelf until I got through some of that general "life stuff" like the move and the wedding. I'm excited to jump back in full force.


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This period I'll also tackle another short e-book for All Freelance Writing, covering the two I hoped to release by year's end. I'll work on the novel for the full three months, and the short e-book will take approximately one month. During this time I'll also have the Query-Free Freelancer draft off for professional editing and I'll work with other contractors on other publication preparations.

January - March 2013

Things pick up a lot in the New Year. I'll devote more time to my own projects then, and pushing out books in two additional series. These will be much shorter works, targeting younger audiences.

During this time, I'll write the first full novel under another of my pen names. This will be in a completely different genre. I've already written about 90% of a screenplay for this story. But I decided it would better suit the novel format, so I'll be re-writing and adapting what I have.

I'll also develop the first in a line of ancillary products for my murder mystery series during this time. And I'll draft two of the shorter books I mentioned -- one getting about two months of my time and the other being drafted during the third month.

Moving Forward

After that, it's really a matter of alternating projects in three month blocks. The mystery series is set up for two drafts per year, along with the ancillary products during alternating periods. The other genre's novels are scheduled in at one per year. One of the smaller series is also set for one draft per year. And the other (the shortest children's books) are set for one draft per three-month block.

I know it can sound like a lot, but they're all scheduled with extra padding worked in to account for delays. And edits and other publication issues are also being scheduled in and / or outsourced depending on the project.

I'd like to put together a similar long-term plan for my Web development and blogging projects, but I'll probably hold off on that to see how these first three months go. If the schedule works out well, I'll have a better idea of how much time I can put into the Web-based work. And if not, then I'll be able to tweak things before committing myself to another set of self-imposed deadlines.

What about you? Have you put together a long-term career or publishing outline yet? Do you plan to, or is it not your style? Why? If you have, I'd love to hear how you came up with your plan and what you do to stick with it.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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11 Comments

  1. Holly July 10, 2012 Reply

    Time-wise… how long did it take to create this plan? I love the planning aspect of freelancing but even this sounds intimidating for me!

    • Jennifer Mattern July 10, 2012 Reply

      It probably took me around 20 minutes… 30 tops. Just make your master project list first. Then decide on the time blocks you want to schedule. For me quarterly worked better because I think doing a monthly plan for three years at once would have been overwhelming. Quarterly gives me a bit of wiggle room within each 3-month block.

      Then just plop your tasks into the time blocks and shuffle things around until you have a realistic plan. In my case I was looking for some semblance of a regular schedule for each series. You might have other priorities, like a blog launch every so many months or lumping the bigger projects during a certain season so you can take more time off later.

      I just did that via cut / paste in a Word document. But you could also use index cards to literally move things around and see your schedule take shape. In the end, it was surprisingly fun. :)

  2. Amandah July 11, 2012 Reply

    Good idea!

    I haven’t mapped out my personal projects, but I’ll look into it. I always say, “It’s all in here.” And then I point to my head…meaning, it’s all in my brain. :)

    One of the reasons I haven’t done ‘planned’ is because I’m such a planner, and I’m trying not to plan everything in my life. I know there’s a saying about how you can’t ‘plan’ everything or is it “man plans and God laughs.” Something like that. Perhaps, I’ll do a rough map of my writing projects. My middle grade project is on my calendar. I guess that’s a start.

    • Jennifer Mattern July 11, 2012 Reply

      It’s pretty much guaranteed that not everything will go as planned. I’m lucky if a single day goes as planned anymore. But having that road map can at least motivate you to take steps in the right direction. That’s what I’m hoping at least. :)

  3. Amandah July 11, 2012 Reply

    Oh my! I need coffee ASAP. The word “done” isn’t supposed to be in the first sentence of the last paragraph, “One of the reasons I haven’t ‘planned’ is…” Getting coffee, right now.

  4. Sharon Hurley Hall July 11, 2012 Reply

    An excellent idea, Jenn. I’ve got a lot of projects in my head – this is a good strategy for turning them into something actionable.

    • Jennifer Mattern July 11, 2012 Reply

      Exactly. Sometimes a sheer volume of ideas can be overwhelming, making it tough to get started. This kind of planning can take us from “how am I ever going to get all of this done?” to “Oh. That’s how!” :)

  5. Lori July 11, 2012 Reply

    What works about this is the simplicity of it. Write it down. Realistically plot it out. Check back with the plan regularly to keep on track.

    I love it! And it’s just as Sharon says — a good strategy for creating action around those ideas. Super idea, Jenn!

    • Jennifer Mattern July 11, 2012 Reply

      Checking back regularly is where I worry I’ll struggle. I already do regular quarterly check-ins, so hopefully I’ll just work these in. I’m so tempted to do the same for my blogs now, with so many in development or waiting to be developed. They keep getting shelved for other things. I just worry if I do it, I’ll overload myself. But you know me. I probably will anyway.

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