Will I be promoting my book for the rest of my life?
How to successfully time-manage before and after pub
I found my debut publishing experience so shocking, so exciting, so draining, so entirely different from what I’d imagined it would be that I would eventually write a book about the experience—Before and After the Book Deal.
I’d been pretty good at time management up until my book debuted, but nothing prepared me for the way that pre-publication eclipses everything in your life. Got kids? Pets? Plants you really like? A job outside of writing? Deodorant you used once? No you don’t, you don’t have those things any longer: you only have this book that you are trying to put out in the world. There is nothing else, there is room for nothing else, and the fact that there isn’t room for anything else is going to cause you problems you won’t have time to address.
The below chart represents what my schedule looked like in the lead up to my first book’s launch, but because I interviewed nearly 200 people from publishing to write Before and After the Book Deal, I know that it resembles other author’s pre-pub schedules, too.
This donut chart is overly generous— I wanted “the book you are promoting” section to take up 100% of the chart, but that negated the need for a chart in the first place. Of the 10% you’re devoting to a new project, that could look like you picking up a story or essay you were previously at work on; it could be you assembling material for a collection you’ve sold or that you hope to; it could be you working on a second novel you are under contract for, or working on a book proposal for an idea you want to sell.
The 20% “life” section includes your day job, your family, your teaching and blurbing and book reviewing responsibilities. It includes errands and doing laundry and not cleaning your house.
As for the 70% book promotion donut slice, here’s a (selected) sample of things that you are doing:
Trying to figure out what the hell to do on BookTok.
Compiling an email list with everyone you know on it, even people you don’t like or who don’t like you very much so that you can send them a pre-order email blast about your book before it pubs.
Creating individual event pages on Facebook for every book event you could ever possibly have, either online or in person.
Desperately pitching hot take after hot take to high and low brow outlets so you can build buzz around your book.
Compulsively refreshing your inbox and social media pages for the DM from Reese.
No matter how much or how little you do of these—and other—things, barring another paper shortage or geopolitical disaster, your book is going to come out. And when it does, our donut looks like this:
In terms of time management, it’s Hello to book publication, and goodbye to your life. That new project you were working on? Sleep hygiene? Romance? Thoughtful parenting? Home-cooked meals? All things of the past.
The list of things you will be doing for your book at this juncture are so long and beyond the realm of what you’d imagined yourself doing that I can’t list them all here (but they are in the book). Suffice it to say, there will be no time management during these first five weeks on sale. No separation of church and state. You have a screaming newborn and it needs to be held and soothed and cleaned and fed and Instagrammed about.
This launch period isn’t the one that interests me from a time management viewpoint, because there isn’t much we can do about life right after launch: The only way out is through that crazy shit.
But eventually, you will come out the other side of pub to a place where you have to stop checking for the email from Reese Witherspoon and work on something new.
That time will look like this.