I am often asked about my publishing schedule, so I thought this might be helpful. Here is how I do it, start to finish.
As you will see, it mostly involves working backward.
- Set a release date and cover reveal date. I set my release and cover reveal dates for an entire series in advance–so I know all these dates a year ahead. Each book will release roughly 90 days apart. I book my cover designer and hunt for photos.
- Count backward 6 weeks from the release date–that’s the date I must have an edited “script” to my narrators if I want to release the audiobook simultaneously with the ebook. Then I contact the production company I use and book narrators. (You can ignore this step if you’re not doing audiobooks yet–I didn’t do them on my own until I’d been writing for 4 years.) I also book a paperback formatter. She usually gets the book about one month before release.
- Count backward a week from that date–that’s the date I must have the book to Julia, my copy editor. Then I book her.
- Count backward two weeks from Julia’s date–that’s when I must have the book to Nancy, my main editor. Then I book her.
- Once I know when it must be turned in to my editor, I block off the prior 10 weeks for plotting/writing the book. Since I know that I can reliably write 10K words a week, this is plenty of time. Most of my books these days are around 80-90K words. I like to have a word count of 2K a day and give myself the weekends off. Of course, it never goes that neatly–there will be days I can write 4K and days I can’t write at all. Some days I DELETE more than I write. But a 10K per week goal is realistic for me, and I stick to it. I use Pacemaker to keep me on track.
- The 10-week schedule gives me some time at the beginning to plot and plan. Before I write a book, I know the trope(s), the characters and their backstories (including their “emotional wound”), and the conflict (why can’t these two gorgeous, single, consenting adults be together?). I may or may not have a specific theme in mind… sometimes it’s very clear to me what I’m trying to say with a book when I start writing, and sometimes the theme emerges as I go along. (As romance writers, we’re lucky that our over-arching theme is always “Love conquers all” or “Love transforms” but we do need to get a little more specific about what it’s conquering or how love is transforming someone. More on that soon!)
- I start writing. I keep going until I type THE END. (At some point during those 10 weeks, I approve cover design, finalize the blurb, and discuss my release promo with my PA and my PR company. More on that soon.) I actually write in Vellum, which I LOVE MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF, but it can be a pain because it’s not quick to convert to Word docs.
- I use one “alpha reader” who really knows me and my brand to give me feedback on pacing and character. She lets me know if I took a wrong turn somewhere or rushed something. Sometimes she asks for more in a particular section. I usually send her 1-3 chapters at a time.
- Once I’m happy with it, I send it to Nancy (main editor). When I get her edits back, I sent it to Julie (copy editor). If I have time, I send it to one more proofreader. Then I send a PDF to my narrators. (After it’s recorded and sent to me, I have a “beta listener” who makes sure there are no problems. Then it’s uploaded to ACX and I pray it gets approved for sale on time.)
- The book will be proofread at least three times AFTER my copy editor–so essentially I have 5 pairs of critical eyes on a book before it releases. I take editing very seriously!
- After all 5 rounds of proofreading, I send it to the paperback formatter and get ARCs ready to send to my team.
- Cover is revealed two weeks before release. ARCs are sent out to my team 10 days before release. And then it’s release day!