There’s something strangely intimidating about the word “deadline.” I mean, after all, the first four letters spell out “dead.” Then, there’s the fact that most indie authors are such (rather than choosing the traditional publishing route) because of the independence that comes along with the choice.
This is all well and good, except for the fact that it can lead to laziness. With no agent/editor/publisher demanding you finish so much by a certain day, it’s easy to decide writing a certain amount each day isn’t that important. The inspiration will hit when it hits, so to speak. Here are ten myths about keeping a deadline as an indie author:
Myth #1: There’s no consequence to missing a self-imposed deadline. To put this into perspective, simply because your parents can no longer ground you for a poor report card in college doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have adverse effects. Companies still look at your GPA and base you on such; you just see this fact much later. In writing terms, I’d like to bring up a fact I did in an earlier post: certain websites have algorithms set to do free marketing on your eBooks based on the dates published. You waiting too long to publish a sequel in a series could hurt what I like to call the Mountain Effect (your first book sales will increase again upon the publication of a second book and so on).
Myth #2: Editors will drop what they’re doing to work on your novel upon demand. Believe it or not, editors are just as busy as authors. They have a client list, and your book will be put into a waiting list upon contact. You should be prepared for the wait. Email them early on, requesting a spot in November (for example). This will give you your own timeline to meet, and will force you to write more accordingly.
Myth #3: Sales aren’t affected by publication date, so you can simply publish the book whenever it’s complete. As said in my last Tuesday’s post, the best time to publish is very dependent on the genre. Why would people want to read your romance book in August, as opposed to the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day? What about your adventure book in February, as opposed to the summer months when they’re most likely on vacation in their own sort of adventure? Timing is everything.
Myth #4: It’s better to write no words at all than write when you’re not feeling inspired. In truth, an author spends more time re-writing than writing. With that being said, the initial draft is obviously the hardest, as it requires the most creative juices. What’s easier? Piecing together an already complete puzzle, or designing the puzzle itself? It’s true that you might rework the plot later based on a burst of inspiration, but at the end of the day it’s easier to do so when there’s more of the story already written down.
Myth #5: Schedules are always changing, so it’s pointless to set a deadline when you know you won’t be able to keep it. This is best explained to be false with a common cliché: Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. It’s important to note here that your deadline should be reasonable. That’s actually one of the pros to it being self-imposed. With that said, even if life gets in the way and you honestly can’t complete it in time, still work like you’re trying to. Don’t just give up simply because you’re a few weeks off schedule. No matter what, you’ll be in a better position if you work to keep up with the deadline.
These myths seem obvious, and we often believe them when we’re going through a spout of depression (ironically usually about missing a deadline). People often forget that being an author is really like being an entrepreneur. That means treating your work like a business. Enjoy the creativity of the job, and don’t rush the art. (Again, deadlines aren’t meant to be stressful. Set it to be reasonable.) In short: eat, sleep, write, repeat.