The lovely and talented Bonnie Edwards asked me a question last week about scheduling ebooks.
I won't address the matter of scheduling in regards to how many books one can produce in a calendar year.
Ruth Ann Nordin actually weighed in on that subject with a recent blog post that is excellent so please click over to see what she had to say on that subject.
Instead, let's talk about how Indie Authors release, or publish, books and how often they should do that.
Individual or Simultaneous Release
Some authors think that an ebook should have a staggered release on each platform. I assume this is so they can devote time to promoting the ebook on Kindle, then on Nook, etc.
I don't think there's any evidence that this is advantageous in any way. I say this because a Kindle reader is just that--a reader using a Kindle. Nook readers don't troll for books in the Kindle shop any more than Kindle readers shop the Nook bookshop.
If you publish on one platform and then wait to do the others, you're just losing sales and momentum. If anything, I imagine it might irritate these readers if you publish on one platform first and then wait a month to publish on the others.
If a book is out on Kindle, it should be available on Nook, Smashwords, Apple, All Romance Ebooks, etc. at the same time.
The best practice is to get all your file formats ready and then go from one platform to the other, publishing your book on each as you go along. I try to accomplish this all on the same day.
Book Publishing: How Often
The subject of how often you should publish a book harks back to the publishing days of yore when a prolific author was automatically judged as being a hack. The considered opinion among many is that good writing takes time. The longer it takes to write a book; the better the book.
That's just nonsense. Thankfully, ebook readers don't give a fig about this whole slow-writing vs. fast-writing issue. To them, the only sin is making them wait for a book when they really, really want your next book. If you're lucky enough to build an audience who wants your books, then get those books out there as quickly as you can.
Sure, you should take whatever time is needed to write good fiction, to make sure it's well-edited and free of errors, but an author cannot build a career or an income on 1 book every few years or even 1 every year.
Series Books: How Far Apart
Another scheduling issue you might want to think about is how far apart your books should be when you're writing a series.
The answer to that is purely subjective and varies from author to author. If you've got the books in the series already written, then you've got an edge. If you're having to write some from scratch, then how they are spaced out depends on how fast you can bring each to completion.
I'd say to take any current inventory and compute how long to write the other books, then schedule them on a calendar so that you can release them at roughly the same intervals.
I do think a shorter interval--say 6-12 months--is better than a longer interval, i.e., over 12 months.
I've got a series called Texas One Night Stands. I had 2 books already written. I published The Trouble With Love in April.
Four months later, I published Romeo and Judy Anne. Book 3 is underway and scheduled for release next summer with Book 4 the following summer.
That was poor planning on my part. I'd have preferred to release all books about 9 months apart, but real life interfered with my writing life, and I didn't get the first book of a new series finished when I had planned. I was receiving emails asking for a new book. I felt pressured to get another book out so I went ahead and released Romeo and Judy Anne.
Figure out what kind of timing works for you. Everyone is different, and everyone has different stress thresholds. Know yours.
I'm a big proponent of planning, but I make mistakes too. I set nearly unreachable goals like my goal this year of publishing 12 ebooks. And I didn't even get started until the last week in March! Dumb, huh?
I cave to pressure sometimes when I shouldn't. Of course, I learn invaluable lessons from all this that I can then pass on to you.
1. Make a written plan and stick to it.
2. Make sure your plan has built-in flexibility for those real-life issues that always crop up when you decide to achieve something extraordinary because--trust me on this--the storms of life will be unleashed on you with a vengeance.
3. Know how long it takes you to bring a book to completion so you'll know how many books you can publish in a specified period of time.
4. Know what kind of promotion you want to conduct for each title, and know how much time that will take from writing.
5. Build in time to play because all writing and no play makes Jack--and Joan and you--dull, boring burned-out authors.
What's the most important element of comedy--and of just about everything in life? Timing. Timing is everything. Figure out the various timing strategies that work for you, and stick with them.
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