Writers know deadlines. Whether imposed from outside or within, much of what is written is produced on a schedule. Other deadlines happen too. This one saves you money though. January 8th is the deadline for early registration for Madrona Workshop Troupe’s next event. Sign up by January 8th and get 20% off. Wouldn’t it be nice if other deadlines worked that way? Get an incentive for getting work in early. Deadlines usually don’t work that way, but one of the nice things about self-publishing is the ability to make our own rules.
My rules for my writing aren’t rigid, but they are effective. I’m managed to produce a book a year, on average, for the last decade. That could sound like a rigid yearly deadline, but the average is merely a coincidence. My most recent book, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland, was finished in a year, but I wanted to take three. Plans in one part of my life changed plans in another part of my life. That’s a common human condition. For reasons that I’ve described in great depth over on another blog, (based on another of my books, Dream. Invest. Live.) my Scotland book was published when it was good enough, rather than after it was polished to a sheen. Self-publishing is empowering at times like that. There was no negotiation with editors or agents. There was simply introspection, a consideration of my personal calendar, and a subjective assessment of whether the story was good enough. To paraphrase Voltaire, “Perfection is the enemy of good enough.”
How many manuscripts languish in desk drawers, never released because life intervened between good enough and the writer’s ideal? Of course, manuscripts don’t sit in desk drawers anymore, right? Actually, I am sure they do. Most of us have manuscripts residing as arrangements of electrons in a computer; but, there are estate auctions that uncover literary works that no one knows what to do with. If you bought someone’s armoire at auction and found a folder of typewritten pages, what would you do with it? It must happen.
The dilemma that has no obvious answer is when to impose that deadline. Historical novels may have more timeless appeal, and as long as life doesn’t intervene, can be honed and honed again. Analyses of the political scene are best when fresh, and before the players leave the arena. I planned to spend about three years working on my book about walking across Scotland, but I witnessed a confluence of events that encouraged me to publish in November, 2012.
- An editorial review came back quickly because the copy was so clean.
- Every talk I gave about the walk was given to a packed house.
- The photos were well-received.
- People who didn’t know about the book, but who knew I was an author, were asking for the book.
- My Klout score (a measure of internet impact) was rising because I was seen as an influencer about Scotland.
- And, I could use the money.
If I was going to publish in 2012, it made sense to publish in time for the holidays. If I was publishing a paperback, the preferred deadline would’ve been August. That gives a book enough time to be printed, delivered, read, and reviewed before the main part of the shopping season. I decided to publish as an ebook, because ebooks work to a different timing and deadline. People buy paperbacks and hardbacks as presents; so, the books must be available in October. Few people buy ebooks as presents. They are hard to wrap. But, ebooks sell well after the presents are opened. Kindles, Nooks, and iPads are unwrapped, and so are gift cards. Christmas Day and the following week are the prime ebook shopping season as people deplete cards and fill readers. By publishing as an ebook I was able to spend a few more months on the words, get a few reviews in places by early December, and publish for free. For a while there, the book was in the top ten of its sub-genre. (I just checked. It’s slipped, so I should blog about it tomorrow; and yes, I have yet another blog for that.)
What’s your deadline? You may not know, yet. At least in the meantime, January 8th is a deadline. Meet it and save $44 – and move one step closer to publishing your book.