How to Juggle Your Production Schedule So You’re Never Bored.

Pretty girl juggling


In my weekly log this week, I mentioned that I have six books in production, as well as the one I’m currently writing.

I don’t know if it’s the terminology or the concept that confuses people, but I thought I would expand upon this part of my writing production schedule, because it has huge benefits for writers and is something you might want to consider for your own business model.

I had a conversation with a writer recently, and spoke about having finished my last book in seven days.  When she asked when the book would be out, and I said November, she looked surprised.

I explained that I had only written the book in seven days, and that I have a six month production period.

Production = everything that happens after the first draft is done, up to release day.

“Oh,” she said, looking both wise and disdainful.  “Then it takes you seven months or more to write a book.”

At which point I wished her a happy day and moved on.

Yes, my production period is six months long.  I don’t work on the book every single day of that production period, though.  There are a ton of tasks and steps and processes that other people take on the book, that I have to wait to be done (or wait to be started).  Editing, covers, formatting, uploading, the making of marketing materials, promotion schedules—all these depend upon input from contractors.  My street team have another three weeks at the very end of the production period to read the book so they can get ready for launch day, too.

That’s a lot of people and a lot of wait time.  Which is why I have gradually extended my production time to six months.

Note:  I do not spread my books out six months apart!  I actually have a book release every 4 weeks.  More on that below.

There are marketing and sales benefits to the longer period of production:

  • Once you’ve uploaded for pre-order, you can get onto Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for your category and stay there for four months.  That includes the 90 day pre-order period and the 30 days that the book is a New Release.
  • You can do a lot of marketing, drip campaigns in particular, before the release date, warming up your readers so when the book is released, they jump.
  • If you’re going to ad-stack for launch day, you already have the buy links in place and can book the ads without hassles.
  • Review sites can take up to six months to get to your book.  If you get it in early, then there’s a good chance the review will appear right around launch day.  In fact, you can organize that they delay the review (if they’re a fast turnaround site) and pick your preferred date for the publication of the review.
  • You always have another book coming out soon.
  • There’s time to do thorough editing, good production and covers, etc.
  • Possibly the best reason:  When you’re writing in series, you’re working far enough ahead that when latest book releases, you have the next book’s pre-order links in the back of it, live and ready to click.

The benefit to such a long production period for you as a writer and creative is that you have a dozen books or more in various stages of production at any one time.  You’re constantly moving from one story to another. In my case, I’m also moving from one sub-genre to another.

Today, for example, I spent the morning writing an Arthurian historical.  This afternoon I worked with a time travel romance, a romantic thriller, and a Victorial historical romance.  Tonight I will be working on the concept for a paranormal romance.

That’s a smorgasbord of fun stuff.

If you have the common creative’s curse of a constantly active mind that gets easily bored, then working with a long lead time will help keep you from feeling like you’ve lived in one story for too long.

I’ll explain the process in kanban terms.

You start with the concept work for Book 1:

Book 1 Concept


When you’ve built the concept and premise for Book 1 (using spare time/admin time, but not writing time), Book 1 moves into the Plot/Write phase, using your dedicated writing time.  While you’re plotting & writing Book 1, you’re developing the concept for Book 2:

Book 2 Concept Book 1 Plotting & Writing


Then everything shuffles over when you’ve finished the first draft of Book 1.  Now you’re developing concept for Book 3, while you’re plotting & writing book 2, and Book 1 is in production – note, the production period can be anything you want, that allows you to get all the production work done with a bit of time to spare for emergencies.  I find 6 months a good period, but crunched down, I could get a book out in 5 weeks.  I don’t want to, because I like the advantages of a longer production period, but I can if I need to.

Book 3 Concept Book 2 Plotting & Writing Book 1 Production


Now you have three books in various stages of development.  After this, it’s simply a matter of shuffling books over as they’ve completed the stage they’re in:

Book 4 Concept Book 3 Plotting & Writing Book 1 Production
Book 2 Production


And so on.  Eventually the first book reaches the end of its production period and is released, so you start seeing this:

Book 7 Concept Book 6 Plotting & Writing Book 1 Production  YES
Book 2 Production  YES
Book 3 Production
Book 4 Production
Book 5 Production


In my case, as I have a six month production lead time, and I write and release a book every 4 weeks, I have six books in production at one time.

You can adjust this model to suit your own working rhythm.

Figure out how long it takes you to write your average novel (first draft), and tack on an extra week or two, or however much safety factor you feel comfortable with.  I have very little safety margin in my production schedule, because I track my word counts and know exactly what I can produce and how fast, and I work hard to hit my deadlines.

The plot+write+fudge-factor period becomes how often you release a book.  Schedule your release dates for that far apart (and have fun deciding what books you’re going to write and release for the year ahead).

You can work backwards from the release date to build a production schedule:

  1. Release date – your production lead time = the deadline for writing the book.
  2. Writing deadline – how many days you take to write the book = plotting deadline.
  3. Plotting deadline – how many days you take to plot the average book = start date on building the book, and your concept deadline.
  4. Start date – how long you need to build a solid concept in your spare time = concept start date.

Tip:  Microsoft Excel will let you build functions combined with dates, so you can automatically calculate all these dates on a spreadsheet, and adjust as needed – takes all the pain out of figuring this out!  The functions in Excel are literal translations of the equations I wrote in English, above.

Then get to work.

When you have three/four/five/six books on the go, you feel marvellously productive and creative.

Have fun!


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