Critical path management is the key to any successful business project, and writing and publishing a book is no exception. The development and distribution of a book requires just as much planning, organization, and delegation of tasks as any other project. Having a critical path for your book release is especially important if you are a self-publishing author.
When you work with an agent and a publisher, the critical path to your book release is often managed for you, but as a self-publishing author, you are often handling everything alone. This is why it’s even more important for self-publishers to develop a clear and organized plan for their book release. Without a system that keeps you on task and organized you may face delays, which can disrupt your end goals for selling and distributing your book.
What is a Critical Path and How Can It Help With Your Book Release?
Critical path management is a system often used by business professionals to ensure the success of a project. It essentially involves developing a list or sequence of linked tasks that are necessary to the end goal or finish date. Having a critical path for your book release can help you clearly identify what needs to get done so you can stay on task and on time, and so you don’t find yourself hitting roadblocks or delays on your path to publishing and distributing your book.
Identifying a critical path is not just about the writing or development of your book; it is about controlling the entire project from start to finish. This includes writing, proofing, marketing, and planning for how you will publish, sell, and distribute your book.
How to Develop a Critical Path as A Self-Publishing Author
Whether this is your first time publishing a book or your second (or third, or fourth… etc.), having a critical path to your book release can help you better manage the project so the release can be as smooth as possible.
1. Keep Yourself Organized with Project Management Tools
The first step in your critical path should be to define your project and get organized upfront. This should include a schedule for writing as well as a desired end goal/date. Every writer has their own unique method of writing and proofing their work, but one of the best ways to handle this is to set a schedule for yourself and stay on task and organized using project management tools.
Many writers will shy away from project management software because they feel that it limits their creativity. But in reality, the right tools can actually help you find more clarity and creativity by helping you stay focused and better manage the project as a whole, which can reduce stress over getting things done.
2. Build Relationships and Get Help
Many self-publishers make the mistake of assuming they have to do everything themselves, but this is not true. There are lots of people out there who can help you better manage your book release. Identifying who can help you and building relationships with those individuals is a key part of critical path management.
Put yourself out there and connect with other writers like yourself for support and advice. Go to book fairs and connect with distributors. Hire an editor and/or a graphic designer to ensure the final product is just right before publishing. Seek out marketing experts who can help you or offer you advice on how best to market your book. The key takeaway is that you don’t have to, nor should you, handle a book release on your own.
3. Develop a Marketing Strategy
For some, marketing is one of the most challenging aspects of self-publishing because it requires being a bit tech- and social media-savvy and knowing your market and how best to reach it. If you think this is something you can tackle yourself, go for it — but don’t be afraid to seek out help from a marketing expert if you need to.
For a solid marketing strategy, you’ll need to study and understand your audience, identify the right channels for marketing, and create engaging and appealing content. This includes designing an author website to use as a hub to centralize your marketing efforts. If you don’t know how to build a website, you can hire a designer to create one for you.
4. Have a Clear Plan for Publishing, Printing, and Distributing
As an independent author, it’s additionally helpful to view yourself as an e-commerce entrepreneur. The final stage of a book release is publishing and selling your book, which requires having a clear plan for shipping and fulfillment.
Every product or service that is sold online, including books, is a part of the e-commerce marketplace. To have a successful book release, you need to first identify where exactly you want to publish and how you will handle shipping and distribution. If you are only looking to sell online, you can choose to work with print-on-demand stores like Bookstore or BookShop, or you can publish on Amazon and use their print-on-demand service.
Ultimately, the self-publishing plan you choose to follow is up to you. There is not necessarily one right way to go about developing and releasing a book. However, having a critical path can help you stay more focused and on top of necessary tasks to ensure a smooth and successful release.