For most writers and readers, self-publishing means creating books. But it’s also a great way to make journals, notebooks, and planners. If that seems like a tall order, stick with me. It’s not only pretty easy to get the basics set up, you can customize your planner for a variety of cool tasks too!
Why A DIY Planner?
You can easily go online and order a planner. So why would you design your own when someone else has already done the work?
There are a few reasons, but most of these come back to customization.
Just like any self-published, print-on-demand project, you’re in control. You build your planner pages to meet your needs exactly. And with this control comes the opportunity for monetization. For example, if you’re between book releases or you don’t have a book ready to release for a few months, you could create a custom planner or notebook.
The cover might feature a rendering of your most popular character from past books and you could include references to your past stories on each page.
You’ve just created an additional means of earning money, marketing to your audience, and keeping your readers happy! Seriously, these kinds of items are popular (who doesn’t love notebooks?) and offer easy ways to supplement your income from book sales.
Create Your Own Planner
Whether you want a daily or weekly planner, or a monthly calendar; when you go custom you can do anything!
The best way to build your planner is to start with some templates. You can find lots of free printables and planner inserts around the web. Simple designs are best because you want to customize them to fit your needs.
Alternatively, you can use Canva’s free resources to design your planner. I just popped over there and made this (very simple) design for a daily planning with a couple of pages for notes and a monthly calendar page.
Ignoring the poor choice of green colors and the month grid being a bit rough, this took me about 10 minutes to put together. Once it’s set up, I can export the pages from Canva as a PDF (like I’ve done) and I’m ready to upload to Lulu for printing!
Lulu’s Grab-And-Go Templates
If you’re not excited about creating your own templates, don’t worry! We’ve taken most of the challenge out of creating planners and notebooks of all kinds with a variety of free templates you can use to get started.
Get Planner Templates
Our notebooks and planners page offers a variety of individual and bundled template options. Download the planner design that’s right for your next project!
Customizable Planner Ideas
I love notebooks. I’ve written about this before, but taking notes by hand is one of my favorite things to do. What makes custom planners so cool is that they break all the book-making rules.
If you’re publishing a novel, you’ve got creative freedom in the story, but how you design the book (usually) needs to adhere to industry standards. Planners are different.
With so many free planner templates and the ease with which you can customize them, you’ve got more control and freedom than most book projects afford.
Lulu University: Notebooks And Planners
Okay, so this video is primarily talking about creating a notebook, but the principles for preparing your interior and cover files remain the same. Be sure to check out our Notebook & Planner page to grab templates for your planner, custom-made by Lulu’s design team!
To help you create, here are a few of my favorite ideas for creating your print-on-demand planner.
Daily Writing Journal
Create a daily planner where you can include your page count goals, notes about the scene you’ll be working on, and motivational quotes. Writing journals takes a lot of forms. A design that focuses on tasks and organizing your work as you might for a day job can be a huge boon for some writers.
I know it helps me stay focused, both in writing blog posts for Lulu and in my own personal writing.
One of the more common designs, you can create a journal with exercises built-in. If you’re a fitness instructor or just passionate about physical health, an exercise planner might be the perfect way to share your routine!
And for the average person (like me) who just needs to stay active; an exercise planner is a perfect way to create personal accountability.
Not that I want to suggest teachers do any more work than they already do, but the opportunity to facilitate learning with a custom planner is huge. Each student could have a planner in hand, with lesson details and assignments already included. Particularly with digital and distance learning becoming more common, having a clear view of the semester and the assignments is vital.
And since print-on-demand means it’s easy to revise and update, once the curriculum planner is set up, most of the work is done! Each semester the design can be updated, iterated on, and improved.
Diet & Meal Planner
Every week, I sit down with my wife and we put together a meal plan for the week, then a shopping list for groceries. And every week I think to myself, ‘this would make a great little notebook.’
If you’re dieting or on a restricted diet, a planner might even be a necessity. So why not craft one unique to your needs?
Hobby & Skills Tracker
Maybe you just took up a new hobby. Or you’ve decided to learn German. Or the trombone.
Whatever skill or hobby you’ve taken up, you can create a custom tracker, planner, and practice calendar. It’s a great way to stay on top of learning that new skill and to document your growing abilities.
Finding Your Perfect Planner
Books are more than memoirs, textbooks, and novels. Journal and planners are popular and unique ways to take advantage of print-on-demand. Along with the relative ease in creating a custom planner, printable planners offer a terrific opportunity to establish additional revenue streams for your publishing (or other) business.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.