I have one week to get the final edit(s) of Ixeos done and off to my cover artist/formatter extraordinaire Streetlight Graphics. Now some of you may find this confusing if you haven’t self-published or haven’t gotten to the final stages of the book you are planning to self publish. Aren’t self-publishers supposed to be free from such worldly things as deadlines? Don’t we, well, self publish, so we’re in control?
Yes and no. If you do everything yourself (something I really don’t recommend unless you’re the one in a million writer who is also both a fabulous graphic designer and a bit of a computer whiz), then this is true. You are in charge of your time, and if you want to give yourself an extension, that’s within your purview.
I am not a fabulous graphic designer. I am, in fact, so bad at Photoshop that my vision of hell is me, sitting at a computer, having to use that program into eternity. There is no one who would ever want anything I did on Photoshop for any reason, myself included (and no, please don’t tell me how to learn it! I have limited time and patience in my middle age!). I also have little patience for learning and executing the multiple types of formatting necessary to publish a print book and ebooks on Amazon (pdf and .mobi), Barnes & Noble (epub), Smashwords (crazy Word formatting), etc. I would much rather be writing, editing or planning another book than learning all that, especially when I have someone who is great at it that would love to do it for me.
Hence, my deadline. My original deadline for Ixeos to start production was last Monday, the 14th. When I realized that I wasn’t going to make that due to a lack of internet on our vacation and holiday stress I pushed it back to the 28th. But I leave for Uganda on Feb 15, so if I want to have a “soft launch” of the book before I go (meaning one without a lot of hype), I need to get it done and to Glendon for production on time. Period. End of story. Because otherwise I won’t get it done until mid to late March, and that messes up a lot of other things in the pipeline.
A friend of mine is struggling to finish her final editing. She asked me how I persevered and got the books done. I told her that I book my production. I don’t like to inconvenience people, and I know that if I get close to my scheduled date and then move it, I inconvenience not only Glendon and his team at Streetlight, but also everyone else who is scheduled with and after me. Someone will get pushed back through no fault of their own, and that wouldn’t be fair, so I meet the deadline. Period. It may mean late nights, but I’ll get it done.
I’ve been self-employed for a long time, and both my father and grandfather were self-employed. I have a pretty good understanding of how to stay on task and get things done, but I’ve always had customers to answer to. As an author, while I do have (and am enormously thankful for!) readers, they are not waiting for a service to be performed as in my other business. They don’t call me demanding explanations if my new book is a week or a month beyond what I predicted (and authors and publishers always say things like “coming spring 2013″ for that very reason).
If your goal is one or two books a year, you probably have a little room to fudge your self-imposed deadline. And if you absolutely can’t meet it, it is definitely better to push production back rather than put out a bad product. But try putting a little pressure on yourself. Remember those all-nighters you did in school because the paper was due the next day and you couldn’t possibly get an F? Well, you still have that inner fortitude in you, if you will structure your circumstances to activate it.
Self deception? A little bit, sure. But it can work. And the reward is pretty great: you get the confidence of knowing you really can get a book out into the world. That sets you up for success the next time. And so on and so on and so on. We all need a little poking and prodding from time to time — it’s much better to ‘fess up and find a way to shore up your weaknesses than to feel like a failure because you didn’t get it done. Take it to the finish line!