If there’s one thing I love about the end of a year (except for the good food, chocolate logs, twinkly lights and Hallmark Christmas films), it’s getting my plan on.
I LOVE planning out my writing and new releases for the year ahead.
Taking all of the lessons I’ve learned from the year and applying them to my process for the next.
Disclaimer: My plans always end up being quite elaborate. I WANT to write this much, I WANT to publish these books. But often life gets in the way and things don’t happen.
My plan for 2020 is my most elaborate yet and I’m determined to do at least half of what I’ve planned.
But just imagine if I could stick to my plan and do it all.
What I’m saying is that don’t worry if your plan looks no where near as busy as mine.
We all have different responsibilities and goals, and then life will always throw surprises at us.
Things change and the best way to achieve your goals is to be realistic about them.
Bearing all of that in mind, I want to share with you how I plan out my year of writing and publishing.
For each step, I’ll show you examples from my own 2020 plan (spoiler alert!).
Please take from this what will help you and, if you want to, apply it to your own planning year on year.
Decide on what you want to work on
The first thing to do when planning what you’ll write in the new year is to decide what you’re actually going to write in the new year.
You might not know. You might know where you want to start and then see how you feel from there.
That’s fine. In fact, that’s great!
Make a list of everything you want to work on.
Now, decide what you want to do with them. Will you be writing a book this year? Do you want to edit it as well? Maybe you’ll be editing the book you wrote the year before.
Maybe there are multiple books.
Will you be self-publishing or submitting to agents?
These are your goals.
So, for 2020, I want to publish Becoming, finish writing and publish Belonging, write and publish two novellas in my Last War series and write the second No Masters Or Kings novel. If I’m lucky, I’d love to get the fourth Erica Murray Mystery in there, but I’m not even sure there’ll be a fourth.
Yeah, that’s a lot…
Break down your writing process
This is the bit that will alter a little year on year. You need to learn your own writing process as you go, based on your own experience.
As you develop your writing and experience life, your process will change. It will always be changing.
This includes how long you think it’ll take you to write / edit / publish your book (depending on what it is you want to achieve).
As you’re writing, editing and anything else to do with your book, time yourself.
Work out how long it takes you to write a book (forget about everyone else), how long to edit, how many edits you think you need, how long an editor might take, how long researching agents and writing a synopsis and query letter might take…
Remember to allow for breaks in-between the tasks to give you a bit of space from your book.
After decades of trial and error, I’ve managed to get (in theory) quite a tight writing process. I say in theory because it never seems to quite work out this way.
- I can write 1000 words a day which means it should take me three months to write an 80,000-90,000 word fantasy novel.
- I’ve learned that I edit better if I do as much as I can in one go (it keeps the story fresh in my head to spot missing chunks and find the flow). So, I try and do each edit in a week.
- Again, after more trial and error, I’ve got my edits down into three stages: the developmental edit, the tidy up edit after the beta readers have ripped it apart and then the copy-edit.
- I then need another week to format the paperback, design a cover (panic if I can’t design it and need to hire a designer) and order the proof copy.
NOTE: If I need to hire a designer, this part can take months, which needs taking into consideration.
- I then need a month or two to proofread the book while I also do some marketing, before it releases.
Stick it all in a spreadsheet (or whatever you feel comfortable with)
Once you’ve worked out what you want to achieve for the year (or first quarter, or whatever) and you know roughly how long each task will take you, you can make your plan.
I like using spreadsheets because I have a small spreadsheet addiction.
Because my timing breaks up very nicely into months, I create a spreadsheet with the months across the top and my writing projects down the side. You might want to split it into weeks if that suits you better.
Then, simply fill it in!
If you’re doing multiple projects, once you’ve done the first one you can simply copy and paste the rest.
Here is a glimpse of my 2020 plan.
Very satisfyingly, I now have three series in the works, each with its own signature colour, which means I excitingly highlight the Release box with the signature colour and see at a glance what series I need to be promoting at what time.
Yes, I get excited by small things.
I also decided in late 2019 that I desperately wanted to focus more on my writing in 2020 and up my productivity.
Most years I manage to write and self-publish one book, which was fine when I was starting out but now I want to build up a bit more momentum and focus on building my self-published empire. Which means I need more books, more regularly.
(It’s very frustrating that it can take a year to write a book and a reader one day to read it! Although, of course, it’s wonderful when a reader just can’t put your book down!)
So, for 2020, I’m trying to multi-task.
Yeah…we’ll see how that goes!
There you have it!
Decide on your projects, break down your process and fill in your plan.
Copying and pasting is fantastic, it’s hard not to keep going once you reach the end of the year.
Just bear in mind that things change, life gets in the way, what you want to work on may well change and new ideas will come to you throughout the year.
Be prepared to change your plan as and when you need to.
And NEVER feel down or like you’ve failed if you miss a goal or your plan has to change.
Learn from it, remember it for the next year and have fun.