Start exercising. Lose weight. Stop smoking. Those are just more common New Year’s resolutions. But for many people, “finish my book” is at the top of their list. They just aren’t sure what to do to get from idea to manuscript to holding a copy of their book. We’re here to help with some publishing resolutions.
From my own experience and conversations with thousands of authors, I’ve found there are five things you can do make sure you fulfill your publishing resolution.
Set a date when you want to hold the first copy of your book
The first and most important thing you need to do is set a date when you want to finish and publish your book. Research shows that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. This is perhaps the most important publishing resolution you can make.
Your finish date can be any point in the future you choose, but it may also be an important event, such as a speaking engagement, holiday, or even birthday party. For example, one author I worked with set a goal to complete his book in time for his 50th birthday so he could give a copy to everyone who attended his party. That date became one of the key motivations for him to finish his book.
Create a timeline with the milestones
The second thing you need to do is create a schedule with the tasks that must be completed to meet the date you set. You need to understand what is needed to get from where you are to where you want to be and set appropriate milestones along the way.
If you already understand how to get a book published, you may be able to do this on your own, but most authors need to work with someone who knows the publishing process to make this happen. Your timeline should include important steps like completing your manuscript, time for editing, submitting your edited manuscript for design and time for both the cover and interior design. The overall timeline for the book will depend on the type of book you are writing. For example, a children’s book will take less time to edit than a lengthy historical fiction novel, but there would need to be time for illustrations for a children’s book.
To help you get started planning your book, use our Self-Publishing Checklist.
Make an appointment to write every day
My third tip is to determine the best time for you to write and block out that time on your calendar. What I’ve learned from my own experience and conversations with authors, is that most of us can write more in one good hour when it is the best time for us to write than in three hours when it is not.
I ran this idea by an author I know who has published over twenty books, some traditional and some self-published. I was having lunch with her and her husband and I asked her if there was a time that was better than others for her to write. Before I could finish the sentence, her husband blurted out, “five thirty in the morning.” By his own observation, he had noticed that was the most productive time for his wife to write.
If you want to get work done, it’s important to know what time of the day you write most productively and make sure that time stays available for you to work on your manuscript.
Make yourself accountable to someone
The fourth recommendation I have is to be accountable to someone. Share your goals and milestones with someone who will encourage you and help you stay on task. It could be a friend, a spouse, an editor, an agent, or a publishing consultant. Fact is, most of us work better when we have someone checking in and reminding us of our deadlines and research proves that out. In the same study I cited earlier, the researchers concluded if you share your goals you increase your odds of reaching them. They call it having a “partner in believing,” which is a great way to think about making yourself accountable.
Plan an event to celebrate the publication of your book
Many people write a book, but far fewer publish their book, so when you do, it is time to celebrate. It’s fun to think about it when you’re doing the hard work of editing and proofreading. Mark the occasion by holding a book signing at a bookstore, but you can also be creative. Depending on your book, host it at a kitchen store if you have a cookbook, or a church if you have a spiritual book, or a school if you have a children’s book. Just be sure you take time to celebrate your accomplishment no matter the venue.
So if “finish my book” is on your 2019 publishing resolution list, I hope your found these few tips helpful. If you are looking for additional advice on how to get to your goal, I would encourage you to also check out The Author Learning Center. If you have additional tips that you think aspiring authors would find helpful, be sure to write them in the comments below. And let’s make 2019 the year you become a published author.