The Power of the Group: Finding a Partner(s) to Keep You on Track
by Laura Orsini
The only way we succeed as a group is not simply following directions,
but in keeping each other accountable for our actions.
― A.J. Darkholme, Rise of the Morningstar
Human nature seems to be that we get things done when others are waiting on us. This is particularly true when writing a book. One of the most challenging things about deciding to self-publish is that you may have no external deadline motivating you to get it done.
There are two potential solutions for this:
(1) Create an external deadline by committing to speak at a seminar, buying a table at a trade show, or scheduling a launch event and inviting people. Knowing that folks are expecting your book by a certain deadline can light that fire under you to get it done.
(2) Find an accountability partner ― or partners ― who will help you meet your deadline.
I encourage my clients to set a reasonable deadline. If you’re just beginning to write your book, how far off should that be? Three months? A bit unrealistic unless you’re super-duper disciplined, have plenty of time to dedicate to writing, and/or are paying for a lot of help. Six months might work ― nine months or a year is likely more realistic.
Then, make an estimate of how long each step of the process will take, and back into the process. Today is April 23, 2015. I want to publish my book by New Year’s Day 2016.
Printing time: 2 weeks
Since I need to allow for down time at the holidays, this means I need to have the book in the printer’s hands by December 7.
Proofreading: 2 weeks
I’ve got to give the proofreader 2 weeks to do a good job ― and Thanksgiving is in there ― so I have to get fully typeset book to him/her by November 16.
Typesetting: 4 weeks
The typesetter may need quite some time so I need to get the manuscript to him/her by October 19.
Final revisions: 2 weeks
I can only begin this process after the editor has given me final notes, which I should plan to receive by October 5.
Editing (second round): 2 weeks
Assuming my changes are minimal, my editor should be able to re-read the manuscript quickly. However, Labor Day is in there, so I’ll want to get it to him/her by September 14.
Revisions: 4 weeks
Once I receive the marked up copy back from my editor, I will make revisions to my manuscript, which might take up to 4 weeks. So I’ll plan to begin this by August 17.
Editing (first round): 4 weeks
Depending on his/her schedule, it might take a professional editor 4 weeks to edit my manuscript, which means I’ll need to get my FINAL draft to him/her by July 20.
Writing: 3 months
Backing into a New Year’s Day publication date, I’ve given myself 3 months to write the book.
Here’s the question: Is this timeline feasible for you?
It might be ― especially if you employ an accountability partner to help keep you on track. When looking for an accountability partner, be sure to choose someone who will do what they say they’ll do ― and likewise, be sure to honor your commitments. This may involve calling/emailing each other once a week to make sure you’re both on task. Perhaps you will send pages to each other as proof that you’ve actually met your deadline. Maybe you’ll even get together to work on occasion.
Your goal is not make your accountability partner responsible for your progress or success; rather, you want to be able to say when they call, “Yes, I’ve met my deadline. I’m on target and making great progress.”
OK – you’re still human. So you might hit a snag and find yourself a bit behind schedule. First, be honest. Second, be willing to talk about the reason you’re behind. Third, accept your partner’s advice and encouragement to get back on track and keep going.
Writing is typically a solo process, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Find someone who is as invested in your success as you are in theirs, and ask if they’d be willing to partner with you to meet your mutual commitments. Who knows ― if you finish your books at the same time, maybe you can carry forward that partnership to market your books!
LAURA ORSINI is a self-publishing consultant who works with authors who want to change the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Laura is the organizer of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup and the host and creator of the Holiday Author Event. She will be exploring more about the power of the group in her coming posts for this group blog. In the meantime, read her posts at Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.