Book Writing, Self Publishing, and Marketing Coach

What’s Your Rush? A Lesson in Book Event Planning

I know Phil’s work as a book coach. He’s creative and tells a good story. You’ll love this one!

Welcome to the Coach’s Corner!

A man accompanies his pregnant wife to her doctor’s visit. She’s four months along and everything’s been going very well. The doctor announces a due date: March 21.

“Aw, shucks,” says dad. “We were hoping for a Valentine’s baby.”

The doctor nods with a smile. “Well, March will be a fine month, too.”

“But we’ve already printed up announcements,” chimes in mom. “We really want the baby born on Valentine’s Day.”

“Is there anything you can do, doc?” Dad’s getting upset, “I’ll pay whatever it takes.”

The doctor is more than a little surprised. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. The baby needs the time it needs to gestate and develop. It’s as simple as that.”

As if on cue, the couple rolls up their sleeves. “But we already have matching tattoos!” Sure enough, “Welcome Hilda Marie! February 14, 2011” is inked onto both of their arms, surrounding a cartoon heart with a rattle.

“One more thing.” The doctor’s really exasperated now. “You’re having a boy!”

Measure Twice. Cut once.

A woman stands over a brood of chickens counting eggs, imagining how many chicks might hatch and survive.

Seriously, folks. This special column of the Coach’s Corner is being added to the issue to remind all author/publishers not to schedule events before they have their book ready to share. Even the best laid plans experience set-backs. Don’t add stress where you don’t need it, like when you publish your book.

Example I: After working on the manuscript to his “great American novel” at the local coffee shop for three years, Dave decides the best way to make sure he finishes his book is to schedule a book signing event in ninety days. Three months sure sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? (Remember, two years is normal for a traditional book publisher. Three months might be an impossibility, especially if you need help with several pre-press steps.)

Dave has a Mechanical Edit done (2-3 weeks) and takes a week to go over it, accept edits, and make a few final adjustments. Eight weeks to go.

Dave orders custom interior and cover design (2 weeks, give or take). He takes a week to put the final touches on his cover text and then gets that to the designer. The interior needs a couple tweaks. Dave’s forgotten an Acknowledgments page to thank colleagues who helped him with the manuscript. The cover needs a single revision. Four weeks left.

Dave puts in his print order and in ten days is holding the printed proof. His wife is surprised to see that she’s not included on that pesky Acknowledgments page, so Dave’s sending off a change for the designer. Two to three weeks left until the event.

Dave pays the revision fee and the corrected file is sent to the printer. He approves an electronic proof and the books are scheduled to print. They’re done just in time to package and ship. Just to be sure, Dave has some books sent Next Day Air to his home and to the book launch venue—the coffee shop on a busy Saturday morning. The books arrive. The regulars cheer Dave on. A few books are sold. Dave sighs in relief and still has about half his hair and a couple fingernails.

Dave’s method could be called the soon-to-be-bald path, because if anything goes awry in the process, Dave’s going to be pulling out hair by the handful. (Editor’s note: I have not published using this method. It’s genetic.)

Bravo Tammy

Tammy chose the save-your-doo path. She let the process take all the time required to get her book done the way she wants it, without undue stress. Tammy received her books, showed them off and brainstormed with a few friends, and then came up with a catchy launch event. Her blonde tresses intact, Tammy presents her book and shares information with everyone who asks about her virtually stress-free publishing experience.

The last word

Do not schedule your book signings or any event featuring your book until you are holding copies in your hand. It’s taken you months or years to get your manuscript written. Your book will be around a long to time to celebrate and promote. No need to rush this baby’s gestation or delivery. A preemie book will bring more stress and might not be as viable in the marketplace as a book with which you took all the time and care it deserves. You never want to be faced with the choice between paying an unnecessary amount of money to expedite production and/or shipping (shipped anything heavy lately?), or showing up with egg on your face and half a head of hair.

A man stands over a dead horse, beating it with a “two-by-four,” shouting, “I am beating a dead horse.”

The horse can’t read this and take heed. Will you?

Phil Whitmarsh is a Book Coach and the Book Marketing Coach for Self Publishing, Inc. ( With over 15 years providing marketing support to specialized manufacturers and several national nonprofit organizations, Phil brings a diverse marketing experience to the mix. You can reach Phil at 800-621-2556, ext. 5464, or at phil[at]

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