Missed Deadline Damage Control

When I mapped out the publishing schedule for Crowdfunding for Authors in January, I didn’t know a few things about what the rest of the year had in store. I didn’t know that I would be moving, not once, but twice in six months; that I would have an unexpected summer job; that furbaby number three would show up just weeks on the heels of number two; nor that planning even the simplest of weddings – for only six guests! – would take up so. much. time. So, my book was supposed to be (self-)published in October, and now it’s November, and the book isn’t out.

Graphic courtesy GO media

Graphic courtesy GO media

I’m frustrated and embarrassed. I’m typically an organized, on-time – even early – person. I’m not only behind schedule on the book at this point, but I’ve missed some key marketing deadlines to set up selling opportunities for 2017. The whole thing is feeling unprofessional, and I spiral into worries about the knock-on effects this is all going to have on my career.  But the hand-wringing doesn’t help. Instead, what helps is getting practical.

Here are a few things I’ve done, with my readers in mind, to minimize the damage from missed deadlines:

  1. Communicate. In email, phone, text, and in person, I’ve updated my readers and marketing contacts on the delays. I’ve kept out of the weeds of detailed explanations, which can sound like excuses, and simply let them know I am behind schedule.
  2. Send ARCs. Everyone who preordered the book has received a digital ARC. And, I’ve offered printed galleys to those who preordered a physical copy. The material in the book still works – it just doesn’t look as good as the final product will.
  3. Update online language. I’ve updated my website and everywhere else that talks about the book to communicate that ARCs are available but the book is not. I’m still in the middle of the maelstrom, so I’m also avoiding making promises on when the final book will be out. Right now, I just don’t know.
  4. Update preorder options. I originally offered eBook, paperback, and workbook versions of Crowdfunding for Authors. For now, I’ve taken the paperback and workbook down, so only the eBook is available for preorder on Indiegogo. This is the closest version to being ready to put up for sale, and it is fast and easy for me to send digital ARCs now.
  5. Take a breath. A favorite Taoist principle of mine is “flow like water”. This is very hard for me when I want to fight like rams or flee like deer. Really, though, I don’t want to fight my book, or run away from it. For now, I’m doing my best to just accept that its timeline is different from what I planned earlier this year, and do my best in the current framework.

Once Crowdfunding for Authors is published, I’m also going to take some time to go back and review the original publishing timeline. Right now, in the thick of things, I’m not sure if I just didn’t set a reasonable timeline in the first place, or if it actually would have been reasonable, absent some of the surprises. And, of course, it’s always good practice to budget time for a few surprises – that’s life, after all.

Bethany Joy Carlson is a BACCA co-founder and owner of The Artist’s Partner, which has helped raise a quarter of a million dollars for creative projects, including books.

PS – Event Notice: One of the marketing opportunities I’ve missed for my book but am still very excited to attend is the Local Author Book Fair at WriterHouse, 508 Dale Ave in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday 12/4 from 1-4 pm. Two fellow BACCA co-founders will be there – Anne Carley, debuting her book FLOAT: Becoming Unstuck for Writers, and Carolyn O’Neal, with dystopian eco-thriller Kingsley.

Becoming Unstuck for Writers – Two Tools

It happens to most everyone. From time to time, the words just aren’t there. You may have set aside time for writing, you may have a good idea, even a supply of your favorite food and beverages for writing. No matter. You’re just making false starts. It feels bad. You’re stuck.

Becoming unstuck is a topic I’ve given some thought to this year. My book-development clients face down stuckness now and then, as do my fellow BACCA writers, and, oh yeah, I do too. In fact, I’m writing a book about how writers can become unstuck.

Here, I offer you two tools – one larger, and one lower-impact, for your consideration, the next time you feel that stuckness in your vicinity.

The Big Idea

One of the tools I recommend is — dum – ta- dum – dum — The Deadline.

And not a fake deadline that only you need to pay attention to. For this to be effective and more likely to be resistance-proof, you need to set up a deadline where you’re responsible to others. A deliverable to a third party. A date certain. An event. That sort of thing.

Fake deadlines – for instance, putting an event in your Google calendar – can be persuaded to postpone themselves. Don’t ask me how I know this, but it’s super-easy to grab one of those quiet little fake deadlines and slide it over a day or two. Or month. The possibilities are limitless, really.

Courtesy Pixabay

Courtesy Pixabay

To make the deadline strategy work for you, do yourself a real favor. Make a plan with someone else, someone you respect. Make a solid promise to them. Did the odds just increase greatly that you’ll deliver something good, and on time?

Here’s a not-so-random illustration of how this can operate: I’d been planning and drafting this book for a while. And maybe I’d been sliding over my self-imposed soft deadline dates in my online calendar once or twice. No one would know the difference, I told myself….

Now, I’m leading a workshop on the topic next month at Andi Cumbo-Floyd‘s writer’s retreat in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains. And when I agreed in March to do this, I committed to having in hand a beta version of the book in time for a late-July event. See how that works? It’s simple and powerful. (And check out this retreat!)

The Littler Idea

Sometimes, all it takes is a walk around the block.

Do this for real, on ‘shank’s mare‘ (as my dad used to put it), or more virtually (standing up and stretching, your favorite deep breathing routine, a journaling break, and so on). A simple refreshing change brings you back to the same place, only it’s so barely recognizable that it has become a different place.

Ah, words don’t do justice to the beautiful simplicity of this concept. Check out the illustration to get a clearer idea of how brilliantly this can work.

(Courtesy MediaGiphy.com)

Here’s to becoming unstuck.

May all your stuckness be resolved. May you scratch your right ear and get on with your work.

— A M Carley writes fiction and nonfiction, and is a founding member of BACCA. Her company, Chenille Books, helps nonfiction authors develop their books. Her first nonfiction book, FLOAT: Becoming Unstuck for Writers, is forthcoming in 2016.