Before writing your book, it’s essential to set a release date. By establishing a deadline for yourself, even if it’s arbitrary, you’re providing strong motivation for yourself to finish your book.

The worst thing you can do when beginning a book is to give yourself all the time in the world to finish it. Time will expand before you like a yawning chasm. Without a deadline, every word you write will feel like you’re building a bridge to nowhere. By setting a hard deadline, you’ll know exactly how many planks your bridge needs in order to span the chasm from “aspiring writer” to “published author.”

writing quote without a deadline
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Writing Deadlines and Word Goals

Additionally, setting a deadline for yourself helps to structure your daily writing. If you know how long your book should be and when you want to release your book, you’ll be able to easily calculate precisely how many words per day you’ll need to write in order to meet your word count goal by your deadline.

As I’ve stated before, I’m a huge fan of the über-word processor Scrivener. Using Project Targets in Scrivener, you can set your total word count goal and deadline. The program will then do the math for you and track your progress on a daily basis. Few things in my writing life are as addictive and rewarding as seeing Scrivener’s Project Targets’ popup window appear when I’ve hit my word count goal for the day.

Launching Your Book on a Specific Day

Sometimes, though, setting a release date is far from an arbitrary choice. If you already know who you’re trying to reach with your book, take a look at your calendar and consider what dates might be most beneficial to launching your book on a particular day.

For instance, I knew from the outset of writing my own book, The Gospel According to Breaking Bad, that I wanted its release to coincide with the air date of the first episode of the last season. I only released an ebook at that time. When the series was over, I wrote an additional chapter, then released an updated ebook and a new print edition within a month of the show’s end. I was absolutely capitalizing on the free publicity generated by the show’s success.

Free Book Marketing

Would your book be a perfect fit for high school or college graduates? Release it in late April or early May so it can be bought as a gift for graduates. Is your book intensely personal, maybe recounting the loss of a loved one? Release it on a date that’s personally meaningful to you and blog about your reasons for doing so. Does your epic fantasy novel take place in a land of eternal snow? Release it in December and play up that angle.

By setting a release date that corresponds to a specific holiday or event, you’re killing two birds with one stone: you’ll know when you need to have your work finished and you may be able to glean some free book marketing from events on everyone’s cultural radar.

Consistent Book Releases

A few years back, the talented author behind The Fred books made a goal for himself to release a book every year on April 1st. Because of that hard date, I know I can look forward to something new from Brad Whittington every April 1st, like his most recent release, Open Season. The benefits of such a release schedule ought to be self-evident. Brad knows his deadlines and achieves maximum B.I.C. time [ref] Butt-in-chair time [/ref] for each one of his novels.

The yearly discipline of releasing a book trickles down into his daily discipline of writing. Furthermore, it increases the number of products he has available to sell to his fans, and allows him to experiment with his storytelling, as Open Season is a deviation from his norm. [ref] In his words, it’s “P.G. Wodehouse meets Louis L’Amour.” [/ref]

Now it’s your turn:

If you’ve written a book, when did you release it and why did you choose that date?
If you’re working on a book, have you set a release date? Why or why not?

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