The following is a chapter from Business for Breakfast, Volume 2: The Beginning Professional Publisher.

The ebook is available from Amazon, Kobo Books, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and the paper version is available from Createspace.

However, if you’re like most publisher (unwilling to spend money unless absolutely necessary) I will also be posting a chapter a week, so you’ll merely have to have patience to read all twelve chapters.

Did you know that the first book in this series, Business for Breakfast, Volume 1: The Beginning Professional Writer is currently available as part of a Storybundle!?!?!? It is! There are so many fabulous books in the bundle about the business and craft of writing. Check it out.

Chapter Six

The Production Schedule is Written in Pencil

A production schedule should be developed for every project. This way, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re publishing and when.

But where does a production schedule start? Where does it end? And what are all the steps between manuscript and finished project?

I’m going to start with the finished project and move forward, accumulating dates. You can, however, move backwards: Pick a date by which you want to have something published, then work backwards figuring out your dates. I wouldn’t advise doing this unless you have a lot of lead time, or are already familiar enough with your publishing schedule that you know where you can fudge things.

This chapter is going to get into more of the details of publishing, as well as building your own Checklist O’Doom.

Production—The Start

When does a book go into the production process? That’s something that you’ll get to decide for yourself.

Some publishers start with the beta or first reader. The writer has done their best to write a great book. Now it’s time for an outside reader to point out where they got confused, where they cheered for the villain, where they laughed out loud, and perhaps where they started cursing the writer because it was two o’clock in the morning and they couldn’t put the damned book down.

NOTE: I am NOT advising you to send your work to a critique group. See Business for Breakfast, Volume 1, ”Chapter Seven, Self–Confidence 101“ for the differences between critique and first readering.

For novels, I generally allow two months for the first reader phase: One month for the readers to read, and a second month for me to think about things and incorporate comments.

It generally doesn’t take me that long to incorporate comments. But sometimes other projects are in the way, and I can’t get to the comments immediately. Two months gives me a good cushion.

You get to decide what’s right for your business and process. Maybe the whole first reader step only takes a month—readers get two weeks and the writer gets two weeks.

But mark those dates down, as well as add first reader to your checklist.


I try to always send everything I write to a copyeditor. I have misspelled my own name before. I mix up words like “lie” and “lay,” “further” and “farther.” I need a good copyeditor to go through and clean up things.

Good copyeditors are busy people. This is another reason why I tend to give the first reading process two months: I can then give the copyeditor a firm date two months out for when I will need her services.

I can’t just expect to finish something and drop it on her desk. She also has a very long lead time and schedule.

What if your favorite copyeditor isn’t available in two months? He’s gotten so popular that now he needs four months lead time?

Then you have a business decision to make. Do you continue to use this copyeditor, and adjust your publishing schedule? Or do you ask for suggestions and find another?

This is part of why the publishing schedule is always written in pencil.

As a publisher, I’ve developed relationships with three different copyeditors: my main two, plus a backup. If you’re sending a lot of material out, you might consider doing the same.

Add send to copyeditor to your checklist.

How long do your copyedits generally take? I write fairly clean copy. By the time it goes to the copyeditor there really aren’t that many mistakes for her to correct. So I get my material back in two weeks or less.

Another date to add to your calendar, another copyedits returned to add to your checklist.

How long will it take you to incorporate the copyedits? Again, since I write fairly clean copy, I generally give myself two days. It takes that long for me in part because I’m trying to learn: I look at every comment and figure out why it’s there, what it was she fixed, so the next time, I won’t do it again.

How long it takes your writer is really going to depend on you, your process, and the particular project.

Yet another date to add to your calendar, as well as adding incorporate copyedits to your checklist.


Perhaps while you’re waiting for your first readers to get back to you, you can create your cover or covers. Or maybe you’ll create your covers while the book is with the copyeditor.

Or perhaps you’re hiring out, having someone else create the covers for you.

However your covers get created, you need to have them finished before you can start formatting your book.

Add create covers to your checklist.

I’m a member of a publishing cooperative, Book View Café. One of the wonderful things about being a member is that I can post the covers I design to the forums there and get critique and commentary from other professionals.

This cover review is also something I build into my schedule, generally about a weeks’ worth of back and forth. If someone else is creating your cover, make sure you build review time into the schedule.

You may want to form your own group of professionals for critiquing covers. I would suggest putting up a cover (regardless of who created it) and merely asking, “What genre is this book?” Until you really know genre, the answers may surprise you. Keep trying. Keep learning.

Add cover review to your checklist.

Different platforms take different cover sizes. Facebook prefers a particular image size. Amazon takes another. You may develop your own specific cover size for your website. And you may decide to do a smaller cover for inclusion in your ebooks.

NOTE: The different websites may or may not require a different size. They’ll just crop the picture for you. Therefore your final version will look odd. It’s better to learn the different sizes preferred by the different platforms and create them, so that way your covers all look the same.

Also, is this book going to be electronic only? Will you need to develop a print version? As well as an audio version? They all have their own requirements.

Add generate different cover sizes to your checklist.


If you’re creating a print edition of your book, you’ll need the blurb at this time, to add to the cover.

For me, it doesn’t take me that long to write the first blurb. However, I generally throw it out and end up writing a second one. Or I tighten the first one significantly. None of it takes a lot of time. I do find, though, that I iterate on blurbs, improving them every time I touch them.

So creating a blurb needs to go on your checklist. You might also want to give yourself time to iterate and improve on a blurb.

Plus, you may need to develop a short blurb, a long blurb, a book tag, etc.

Add create short blurb, long blurb, book tag, author tag to your checklist.


This may be a process you hire out—Knotted Road Press does ebook as well as print book formatting. Or you may take the time to learn how do to it yourself.

However, it will take some time. Because I format a lot of books, and I have a technical background, it doesn’t take me that long.

Add format book to your checklist.

Print Formatting

For me, formatting a print book takes longer than creating an ebook. I allow at least half a day of solid work to do a short book, two days at least for a longer book.

It isn’t because it takes that much time to do the actual work. But I find my eyes get fuzzy if I work too long on a particular project, and I need to take breaks and go do something else for a while.

If I’m doing a print book, I automatically add six weeks to the schedule. Why?

Because you will need to view a printed proof of the book before you approve it. I am a small business, that means I want the cheapest shipping rate possible. Sometimes the service I use for print books (Createspace) can get me a proof in a week.

Sometimes, though, it takes two weeks.

Then what happens if there’s a mistake and I need to generate another proof? That’s potentially another two weeks.

I can have something called Extended Distribution via Createspace. What this means is that my paper book will automatically display in the Barnes and Noble catalog, as well as the Kobo catalog, etc. without me doing a thing.

But it takes time for the book to show up in the extended distribution catalogs.

So I tend to approve the final Createspace print two weeks or more before I publish the electronic version.

Add print formatting to your checklist, as well as uploading to distributor, and verifying printed proof.

Ebook Formatting

I have a degree in computer science, and worked in the technology field for many years. I hard–code all of the HTML and add my own CSS file when formatting an ebook.

Most people don’t do that. They use a simpler program such as Calibre or Jutoh. It is up to you what you use. But make sure that you give yourself time to do the work, as well as fix any errors.

Then look at your ebook. Look at it on your phone. On a tablet. On your boyfriend’s computer. Look at it using different computers and programs.

I believe, at this time, that Jutoh automatically verifies your epub, while Calibre doesn’t. If the software you use to create an epub doesn’t validate your epub, you should do it. I recommend uploading your epub to an epub verification site—I use the International Digital Publishing validator site (

Add format ebook to your checklist, as well as verify ebook.

Categories and Keywords

The one last piece of information you need before you start publishing are the categories and keywords for your book. Spend an hour or more determining your keywords before you start publishing.

Add determine categories and keywords to your checklist.

For more on keywords and categories, see Business for Breakfast, Volume 2, Chapter Ten, Distributing and Branding. 


What is the appropriate price for your book?

Believe it or not, that’s also determined by genre. In some markets, like romance, readers won’t pay a lot for their books, in part, because they read so many of them. In other markets, like mystery, readers expect to pay more for their books.

You need to spend another hour or more studying pricing for your genre.

Then add determine the price to your checklist.


You’ve already set up all your accounts with the distributors. You’ve established your publishing date.

Now it’s time to upload your files (which are all in a single, findable place, right?) As well as enter the description (again, your blurbs are all in a single, findable place, right?) And the keywords. And the cover.

The publishing process takes time, just because it does. I generally do publishing on Saturday afternoons, so that way I’m ready to announce that the book is published on the following Tuesday.

Plus, if something goes wrong, I will have time to fix the issue before Tuesday.

Add Publish to distributors, as well as the list of distributers that you’re using on your checklist, so that you won’t miss any.

And now, you’re done! Right?

No, next comes the post–production phase, which I’ll cover in the next chapter.

In Conclusion

Here are the three things to remember about the production schedule:

  • The schedule can be long and complicated. Make a checklist.
  • The checklist includes things like copyedits, generating all the different covers, formatting, picking a price, and publishing.
  • Publishing to distributors is not the last step.

The ebook is available from Amazon, Kobo Books, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and the paper version is available from Createspace.


All Covers Jutoh Large

Did you know that the first book in this series, Business for Breakfast, Volume 1: The Beginning Professional Writer is currently available as part of a Storybundle!?!?!? It is! There are so many fabulous books in the bundle about the business and craft of writing. Check it out.