21 April 2014

WIP2 - Book Project Plan

I mentioned in Sunday's post that I'd spent a bunch of time last week coming up with a more detailed project plan for my WIP2 (which just stands for "Work in Progress 2" and is my code name for the book project). Today I wanted to share with you what that project plan looks like and how I came up with it, both to give you a sense of what I think about as a self-publishing author and also to get your feedback on what I might be forgetting!

Photo by Rick Campbell

How I came up with my project plan
First, I set a target word count of 60,000 for this book. Most novels are somewhere between 80,000 and 120,000 words, so this is slightly shorter than the average. (And if you prefer to think in pages rather than word count, I can tell you that if you're working in double-spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman font, there are usually around 300 words per page, so I'm aiming for roughly 200 pages for this one.)

Next, I thought about how many words I tend to be able to write per hour. I already had this information from doing #writeclub sprints on Twitter and from paying attention to my word counts during my daily 2 hours of writing in the morning. On a good day, I can produce 1,000 words per hour without having it feel like a stretch. Granted, on other days I'm lucky to get 500 words per hour, but I'm being optimistic. So 1K words/hr it is.

Then I used that information to figure out roughly how many hours I'd need to finish a shitty first draft of the book: 60,000/1,000 = 60 hours. Then I added 20 hours to account for planning, outlining, slow days, etc., so I figured I'd need a total of 80 hours to write the first draft. I should also mention at this point that when I started working on this project plan, I already had about 12,000 words written, which represents (according to my 1k words/hr calculation) 12 hours of work, so: 80-12 = 68 hours.

On my current writing schedule, I'm able to consistently dedicate 2 hours/day, 7 days/week to writing, and I can usually find a day or two per week to put in an extra writing hour or two. The math: 7x2 = 14 hrs + 2hrs extra per week = 16 hrs/week.

My next step was to figure out, on a week-by-week basis, when I'd be available to work on WIP2, in between working on WIP1 and the traveling I have coming up. I figured out how many hours I could probably put in that week, and as I went, I calculated the total number of hours I would've put in at that point so I knew when I'd be done. See the anticipated schedule below to see what I mean.

The anticipated 1st draft schedule:
April 14-20 16 hrs
         21-27 16 hrs (total 32 hrs)
         28-30  6 hrs (total 38 hrs)
May 19-25 16 hrs (total 54 hrs)
         26-31 14 hrs (total 68 hrs) - FIRST DRAFT DONE

So that's my first draft, but that's not the end of the book project by any means. There's still beta reading, revising, copy editing, cover designing, blog tour arranging, publication date, blog tours, etc.
  • I decided to give beta readers two weeks (including two full weekends) to read and give me feedback. 
  • I know I don't want to commission a cover until the first draft is done, but I need the cover by the time I contract with a blog tour company, so I gave myself a month to work with a cover designer. 
  • I estimated I'd need about 24 hours total to revise the manuscript once I'd gotten all the feedback. (This may not be enough time, given that my first step in the revision process will be to read back through the ms myself and take notes on things I see that need to be fixed; we shall see.) 
  • I asked my copy editor how long she thinks she'll need to do her magic: two weeks. 
  • And I knew from my research into blog tour companies that they like to give bloggers 4-8 weeks to read and review a book, so that means I need to plan to send out Advance Review Copies (ARCs) of the fully-edited and formatted book at least 4 weeks prior to the book's official release day. 
All that information went into creating the final project plan you see below.

The complete project plan
April 14-20 16 hrs
         21-27 16 hrs (total 32 hrs)
         28-30  6 hrs (total 38 hrs)
May 19-25 16 hrs (total 54 hrs)
         26-31 14 hrs (total 68 hrs) - 1ST DRAFT DONE
June 1-15 MS with beta readers, work with cover designer
         23-29 Revise (28 hrs) I expect to be able to do 4 hrs/day - 2ND DRAFT DONE
June 30-July 14 MS with copy editor, contact blog tour company to arrange tour(s)
July 15 Apply copy edits, format, send out ARCs (4 hrs)
Aug 29 BOOK RELEASED - Release day blitz
Sept 1-14 Book tour

Some people give themselves at least three or four drafts. This, it seems to me, is a good idea. There are three reasons I'm not doing that right now:
1) I'm impatient (which may end up biting me in the butt, I realize);
2) If I had the money for it, I'd build in time for at least one round of developmental editing and a possibly a round of line editing, but for now I can only hope to do that for future projects, once I'm making a little more money off my writing; and
3) If I let myself, I will continue to revise FOREVER. So I needed to lock it down and give myself a date by which I had to call it "good enough," since it will never live up to the insane standards of perfection to which I seem to want to hold up my work.

So what do you think? What am I missing? How do you approach your book project plans?


  1. Thanks for posting this :) It makes sense to me to make a project plan like this, especially because I can relate to your last point about revising forever. I can't think of anything you're missing - but I'd like to ask: do you ever fall behind or get ahead of your project plan? How do you handle that?

    1. Thanks for the nudge, Camilla! =*) Do I ever fall behind? YES. Because life happens. In which case I recalculate. So far, though, there has been enough of a cushion built in that I haven't missed my target publication date due to getting behind in the writing/editing. I did publish a month late once because my cover design wasn't ready, though.

      I haven't gotten ahead of myself yet. If I did, I'd use the extra time to do more editing or give myself a little vacation, depending on how I felt about the ms. I have a tendency to work a lot of hours and forget to take weekends, much less vacations, so a break is always welcome.

      Thanks for the great questions!

    2. You're very welcome - thanks for the reply! It's always interesting to learn about other writers' processes, and hear what works for others. Even though it may not work for you, you might be inspired :)