Overcoming chaos with spreadsheets


One of the writers worst enemies is chaos. Not that chaos can not play a useful part of our lives as writers, I am a frequently flyer of the Chaos Airlines when writing scenes and stories (a little chaos will go a long way in creating roadblocks for characters.) But as a general rule, chaos does one thing — prevents organization. And if there’s one thing necessary, when it comes to managing published work, it’s organization.

Let me set a scene for you:

I am currently in the process of publishing the four books I have finished (A Blade Away, I Zombie I, Gothica, and Shero.) A Blade Away has already been up on Amazon for a few weeks and I Zombie I is about to be officially released. I made a very minor change to the text for A Blade Away and had to upload that to all three sites. I am also working on getting both books published with Create Space. So I have the following:

  • A Blade Away: Text for Smashwords, Amazon/B&N, Create Space, Cover for Amazon/B&N/Smashwords and Create Space.
  • I Zombie I: ┬áText for Smashwords, Amazon/B&N, Create Space, Cover for Amazon/B&N/Smashwords and Create Space.

This was becoming quite the nightmare to juggle — especially since each site processes files at different rates. I had to make sure I wasn’t resending files when it wasn’t necessary and make absolute sure I was sending the correct files to the correct publisher. As we all know, submitting (and get accepted) the wrong file to Amazon could cause quite a loss, since their process is so slow. And the more titles added, the more chance chaos has for getting a grip on your process.

So…it became abundantly clear that I needed to do something before I found myself lost in the muck and mire of trying to keep things organized. What did I do? One word…

Spreadsheet.

This spreadsheet will cover every title I have on every publisher I use. And instead of creating a single sheet to cover everything, I will even organize my spreadsheet like so:

  • One sheet for Amazon.
  • One sheet for B&N.
  • One sheet for Smashwords.
  • One sheet for Create Space.
  • One sheet for Sales.

Each sheet will contain the following information for every title I have written.

  • Document status.
  • Cover status.
  • Blurb status.
  • Publication status.
  • Price.

As each step of process is updated, I will go into the spreadsheet and update the status. This will allow me to always know exactly what needs to be done on each book and for each publisher.

Without using a spreadsheet to keep myself organized, I find I feel scattered and eventually panic when I’m unsure what needs to be done on what book. This will become even more crucial as I publish more and more books.

Give it a try

If you are feeling a bit out of sorts with your publishing calendar or tasks, I highly recommend following this same model. If you are unsure how to set this up, contact me through email, facebook, or twitter and request a template spreadsheet and I’ll send one your way!