DOM Build-a-Book Project: A Book Begins with a Plan

Before I go any further with the DOM Build-a-Book market research, it’s time to put the breaks on, stand still for a moment, and take on that whole “ma’am with a plan” outlook for this current book baby I’m trying to nourish and grow. I was so completely ready to feed this bookling a full course meal with plenty of meaty content before even giving it milk to start off with, but . . . 

Okay, enough of my baby analogies. What I’m getting at here is the idea that I can’t put the cart before the horse, run before I crawl, or write a book without starting with a plan. Hence, the need to be the “ma’am with a plan” before moving forward even one inch further.

I realized that I started abruptly into my questions for all of you in last week’s post, entitled DOM Build-a-Book Project: The Market Research Begins with You. And there’s nothing wrong with working toward gathering data that will assist me in collecting that meaty content that my book will be fed with shortly. But, it dawned on me yesterday (as I was preparing this post) that I really didn’t know where to go next with this book project. And I hadn’t officially communicated a plan for how we’re to proceed with this whole endeavor.

And so, I found myself at a complete standstill — just for a few hours or so. But, why? I just got started with this incentives book, so how could I be cooling the jets so quickly after starting my new book writing journey? Again, the reasoning all lies within the fact that I had no actual plan put into place for how I wanted to pursue this new book.

No, I’m not even referring to idea generation for the book’s content or even the outlining of the chapters. I’m nowhere near those steps just yet. I’m simply talking about creating a framework that this book will flourish within. And here’s where I needed to stop and think the beginning steps through before proceeding any further.

For instance, I probably should have some idea of the timeframe in which I would like to see the book self-published and physically or electronically in the hands of those who can truly get some benefit out of it. I should also figure out if I’m looking to put out a long read or short read with a certain word count, if I’m enlisting any professional services to help with the self-publishing of the book, and what distribution channels I’m thinking the book will go through to get to as many people as possible. So many variables to think about and I haven’t really firmed up what I’m intending to do with any one of them. Sure, I have some fleeting thoughts mulling around in my head and have entered some notes on a Word document, but nothing’s definitive — nothing’s etched in stone.

One thing I do know for certain is that I don’t intend to be definitive with any planning this early on in the process. Been there, done that. And it never fails that initial plans change. So, while I know that you have to start with some idea of where you’re going in the book writing process, I will in no way adhere to a plan that won’t give me some wiggle room to remain flexible and sensitive to necessary changes to the book writing process as the need arises.

Hey, I guess I actually do have some plans figured out — to be definitely tentative in my planning — and I’m holding fast to it.

Now, it’s pretty ironic that I was going through some of my older blog posts and came across a post, entitled “Self-Publishing Lesson #1: Plan Ahead” (published on September 23, 2019) that totally addresses the importance of starting your book with a plan. Well, what do you know? I had some wisdom back then in my earlier writing days that I somehow needed to be reminded of in my later writing days. Good thing that newbie me could remind the current forgetful me of doing first things first, before pushing the pedal to the metal full speed with no clear direction.

Plan Ahead

Here’s what the post back in the day reminded me of today:

  1. Plan out EVERYTHING! Your plans may not go 100% according to the way in which you lay them out at the onset of your self-publishing journey, but you have to start with some similitude of a vision, direction, or goal.
  2. When creating your self-publishing plan, consider it more of an outline than a blueprint. NOTE: Outlines are made to have some flexibility built into them; while blueprints are made to be followed to the most minute detail. (I can say with a certain amount of certainty that you will more than likely find yourself updating/tweaking your plan from time to time.)
  3. Set deadlines for accomplishing the tasks that make up your plan timeline. Aim to hit each deadline milestone and only adjust when it’s not in your power to control timing outcomes.
  4. Plan out tasks waaaaaaaaaaaaaay in advance of the date you want your book to go LIVE. (This tip works in conjunction with tip #3. Deadlines for accomplishing milestones should be set as many months prior to the publishing of your book as possible.) There are a lot of pieces that you will need to take into consideration when self-publishing, such as:
    • the time it will take you to actually write your manuscript and create all of the pieces that will go along with it to form your completed book. (Be realistic in the expectations you set for yourself, because you’ll need to account for all of the factors that you can control as well as those self-publishing pieces that you have no control over).
    • the budget you’ll need to cover all expenses. (More often than not, expenses will be more than you guesstimate, so give yourself an additional cushion on top of your best expense projection, if possible.)
    • the help you’ll need to enlist from others (editors, proofreaders, beta readers, reviewers, book cover designers, formatters, etc.) and their availability and time limitations in assisting you with your self-publishing needs.
  5. Write down or type up your self-publishing plan of action and amend as needed. It should be structured but flexible and officially in writing or type-written. Having a formal plan in a centralized repository where all of the details are housed is helpful for your self-publishing sanity. You’ll know exactly where to refresh your memory on all of the particulars in order to stay the course of your book writing/publishing journey. You know what happens if you try to leave everything to that short-term memory bank of yours, don’t you? (NOTE: typing up your self-publishing plan and saving it in your computer is probably the most preferable method to safely store your information and to create a system for easy updating on an ongoing basis.)

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I was handing out some sage wisdom even though I was pretty “green” back then. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m still somewhat green today. I don’t have enough books under my belt yet to claim a title of “seasoned” writer at this point in my writing career. But, I’m working on it.

So, I think I’ll take my own advice and work on my DOM Build-a-Book plan this week. And that means, I won’t be bothering you with any new questions in this post. But, I would so incredibly appreciate you answering the 10-item questionnaire from last week if you haven’t had a chance to do so. If you need a refresher or introduction to last Tuesday’s post (with the 10 questions included), you can again find it here.

In conclusion, I do believe I’ll be the “ma’am with the plan” come next Tuesday. And my plan is to visit with you on how I will be proceeding with some direction on this project and how you can get involved. Oh, and I’ll probably have a question or two for you as well. See you then for the continuation of our adventures in book building. 

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