3 steps to project management for indie authors…


For much of the last twenty years I’ve wrestled with project plans for a living. What’s that got to do with writing and indie publishing? Quite a lot as it happens.

Being an indie publisher isn’t just about writing a book and hitting publish on Amazon (or your platform of choice). As soon as you make the decision to publish independently, you become…wait for it…an independent publisher. And that means that you need a budget (we’ll talk about that next time) and a project plan. At the very least. In short, you need to do for yourself all the things that a traditional publisher would normally do for you.

Really? Yes, really.

The hard fact is, publishing a book is a project in itself- and all projects have three key steps:

  • Quality or scope
  • Time
  • Budget

Any decision you make in any of these areas will have an impact on something else:

Quality or scope

Every project has what we call CTQs- or Critical To Quality. It goes without saying that you want this book to be the absolute best version of itself that you can make it, but you may have other deal-breakers as well.

Amongst other things, you need to decide on the platforms you’ll release to, the editor/s you’ll use, the cover design process. You’ll also need to consider how long you have to write the book, and what you’re prepared to do to make it the best it can be. Another question at this point you’ll need to think about is what success for this book looks like. Is it reviews, sales, or something else?

What comes out of this exercise are the tasks you need to complete, the time in which you’ll need to have them completed, and the budget you’ll be working within.


It’s here that you need to determine your release date- and what you need to do to get there. Do you need to pay someone to complete a task that you planned on doing yourself? If so, you’ll need to re-cast your budget. Are you moving the date forward? This could mean having to make do with one editorial pass rather than two. Perhaps you decide to save time and money by designing the cover yourself? The choices you make in regards to time will impact both quality and budget.


This is the tough one.

We’ll work through this in a separate post, but you’ll need to make decisions regarding your spend on:

  • Editing
  • Cover design
  • Marketing
  • Sale price

There could be other expenses too that need to be factored in. Say you want to use a line from a song? That will cost. Sometimes a lot. The resultant impact to your budget could mean you need to re-draft part of your story. That could have a flow-on effect to your release date. Maybe it means you miss your window with your editor and have to wait for another. Now your whole schedule is out.

What are your financial goals for this book? Do you expect to earn back your investment or are you taking a longer view? How many copies do you want to sell? In what time frame? What do you need to do to achieve this? Do you need to factor in marketing or advertising spend? If your objective is to break even with this book, you’ll need to work out how many copies at different price points will get you there.

As indies, we need to do all of this for ourselves…it’s not just about turning up for the fun stuff. Such is the life when you head up (ahem) a publishing empire…

Next time: Project planning for indies.