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How To Publish a Book From Start to Finish in Six Months

Ashley R. CarlsonSix months ago I quit my job to write a book.

Because I was blessed financially, I decided that if I were to get some roommates I could feasibly leave the job I hated and pursue my real dream—to write a novel.

And I did. My debut novel, a steampunk fantasy called “The Charismatics,” released on December 13th on Amazon and my website.

How was I able to produce something in such a timely fashion? Well, I want to share my experiences and timeline with you.

Firstly—the main reason I was able to publish a book in six months is because I wasn’t working a 9-to-5. I wasn’t exhausted all the time, and it allowed me to really unleash my creativity when I was mentally, physically and emotionally strong.

I know that quitting a position isn’t feasible for 99% of you—but what I want to impart here is that in order to complete your book in a timely fashion, you need to be diligent about setting aside TIME, SPACE and QUIET to allow yourself to write. This isn’t easy, especially with a family and/or other obligations. But you know what? You can either keep making excuses and finding other things to do, or you can WRITE THE DANG BOOK. The choice is always up to you.

The second thing that allowed me to write “The Charismatics” from start to finish in six months was eschewing a social life during that time. Literally—if I wasn’t writing or editing, I was maintaining my social media outlets, writing blog posts and guest posts, researching the self-publishing industry, or reading another’s writing.

So even though I wasn’t working at a job anymore, I actually had more work to do than ever before—I kissed parties and movies and dating goodbye. Truly, I did. But because I holed up inside my office, living and breathing my book nearly every waking moment, it allowed me to complete it much more quickly than my previous attempts at writing (I have numerous half-finished manuscripts floating around on my computers from years past).

Again, this isn’t something that is feasible for many. Maybe it’s not even something you want to do. But this is my experience—these are the decisions I had to make in order to create and polish a completed product from June to December.

So now you know what kind of diligence it takes to write a 378-page novel in half a year, here’s my timeline to depict the schedule of it all:

Early June 2014 to mid-August 2014: Wrote the entire first draft, 102,000 words. I was also doing two internships during this time or it would’ve been finished earlier. I generally wrote at least 3,000 words a day at the beginning, but as I continued to write, I wrote faster. Soon I was clocking in at 5,000 words a day, and once I wrote 7,000 words in 7 hours (during the climax). A huge help here was #WordSprints—find those friends on Twitter and join in on writing competitions.

Mid-August 2014 to early-September 2014: Took a two-week break to let my first draft “sit.” Stephen King recommends six weeks at least, but I didn’t have the time or patience. After two weeks I read my manuscript on my iPad (to keep from editing) with notecards and post-its in hand, writing down plot holes, questions, areas that needed improvement, etc.

Early-September 2014 to late-September 2014: Wrote the second draft at 88,000 words, going through the entire manuscript with my notes to fix the previous issues. I also cut scenes that didn’t make sense and added scenes that were needed. Sent to first round of beta-readers.

Late-September 2014 to mid-October 2014: received feedback from first round of beta-readers, and made note of their critiques. Begin third draft and ended it at 90,000 words. Sent out to second round of beta-readers.

Mid-October 2014 to late-October 2014: received feedback from second round of beta-readers, and utilized their critiques for my fourth draft (mainly more character development and world-building). This landed my fourth draft at 93,000 words. Sent to my editor (Midnight Publishing) on Halloween.

Late-October 2014 to early-November 2014: found and hired a cover designer (M.S. Corley) and formatter (Crenel Publishing) to design my e-books and interior print book. Received numerous concepts from cover designer and received finalized manuscript from editor and finalized cover art in mid-November.

Mid-November 2014-late November 2014: Wrote the fifth draft, taking into account editor’s comments. Sent my finalized draft to formatter to be designed in various book formats. Found numerous typos and changes desired so I wrote the sixth draft in late November. Received formatted print book late November and ordered copies from CreateSpace.

Late-November to early-December 2014: Received first 20 copies from CreateSpace on December 3rd (see my “unboxing” video here). Wanted numerous adjustments to the interior and cover design, and received those early December as well. Also began to find numerous websites to write guest posts for, and offered e-book to numerous early readers for review.

December 9th, 2014: Opened a P.O. Box to receive check payments for signed copies of “The Charismatics” in the mail, as well as other fan mail/correspondence. Submitted final e-book file to Amazon and final print files to CreateSpace December 9th so that print book would be linked in to Amazon e-book page by release date.

December 12th, 2014: Goodreads print book giveaway closed, 843 total entries and three winners. Preparation for book launch party on December 13th, 2014 at family home. Schedule updates on Twitter and Facebook through Hootsuite to advertise the release date. Write and schedule newsletter through MailChimp to go out to newsletter subscribers on December 13th at midnight encouraging them to purchase a book on release date and increase Amazon ranking. Also encourage readers to use the hashtag #TheCharismatics to increase awareness and interaction about the book release.

The CharistmaticsDecember 13th, 2014: Book launch party in person and social media! Realizing a dream come true—having written a novel that will hopefully reach thousands of readers who enjoy it.

There you have it—my timeline for publishing “The Charismatics” from start to finish in six months! I hope this gives you a little insight into how it can be done.

Above all, the most important thing through it all is belief in yourself. Belief that you can accomplish it, and envisioning yourself doing so. As William James said:  “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult undertaking which, more than anything else, will determine its successful outcome.”

That quote was on a post-it note taped to my desk, and I read it every single day.

“The Charismatics” book blurb:

An arranged marriage. A corrupt government called Legalia. A forbidden spiritual realm.

Duchess Ambrose Killaher was just seventeen-years-old when exiled to Shinery—a city of snow and darkness—to marry a man who despised her, finding her only solace in an invisible companion named Roan.

Now as the poor starve in the streets below and rebellious acts become a frequent occurrence, Shinery holds its yearly celebration to commemorate Legalia’s rule. But when Ambrose stumbles into a hidden courtroom and witnesses a violent murder, she is thrust into a secret world of the supernatural—one that could endanger everyone she cares for. With the help of a handsome stranger, Ambrose learns of the past Legalia has covered up, and that she alone possesses the power to stop their unspeakable plans for the future.

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads now.
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