Why We Should Always Have Four Books in Our Book Pipeline

Writers: How many books do you have in your book pipeline?Some authors start writing their book, focus on it until completion, work to publish it, and then promote it. Then they start their next book—assuming they have an idea for one. They have one book in their book pipeline.

Other authors are working on so many books that it’s hard to accomplish anything. I fall into that trap. I have about a dozen books in various phases of development. In reality, the number is much higher. It is insane. How many books are your presently writing? What do you think about having a book pipeline? Click To Tweet

One successful fulltime writer works on three at a time. Even though I don’t spend all day writing books, I tweaked his advice to having four books in my book pipeline:

The Planning Stage: Starting with a book idea, be it a title, a concept, a lead character, a plot, or an ending, we gather information. This includes research, making notes, taking pictures, outlining, and writing the book proposal. This activity is not our focus, but it must be intentional. Our goal is to be 100 percent ready to start writing when the time comes.

The Writing Stage: For this phase we write the book from start to finish. We work on it every day. This is our focus. We don’t switch books. Bouncing from one project to another dulls our concentration and lengthens the time required to finish it. When we finish the book, we start writing the next one right away because we have already done all our prep work.

The Publication Stage: If we are seeking a traditional publisher, this phase entails writing query letters, fine-tuning our book proposal, and seeking representation. Once we have a publisher, we need to work with them to finalize the book.

If we are indie-publishing, this involves hiring an editor (or two) and reviewing their edits, having a cover designed, finding someone to do the interior layout, and so forth. This is our book, so we must be involved with every step.

Regardless of which publication path we pursue, there are lulls in activity as we wait for others to do their work. Our involvement happens in spurts. When it is time for us to act, we must make it a priority, all the while writing our next book.

The Promotion Stage: As the publication date nears, we switch into promotion mode. This could start six months in advance but at least one. Our involvement for this stage looks like a bell curve: there is a little bit of work leading up to the month before the launch, things peak—requiring much attention, and then a month or so after the launch things taper off. However, for as long as the book is in print, we should be promoting it to some extent.

Having four book projects in our book pipeline at all times ensures we will have a steady stream of output and hopefully some income to match.

How many books are your presently writing? What do you think about having a book pipeline?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

5 thoughts on “Why We Should Always Have Four Books in Our Book Pipeline”

  1. So, where is the revision stage? Is that part of the writing stage? I tend to think of it separately because it requires a different mindset…your thoughts on this?

    1. Great question, Holly. I group the revision and editing aspects under the writing stage.

      I do my first draft, revise, and send it to a developmental editor.

      Then I implement needed changes, edit some more, and send it off to my copy editor/proofreader.

      Then I do the final version (or as final as a book ever is).

      I consider these all aspects of writing.

      But if it serves you better to break these into separate steps, then go for it!

      Happy writing!

  2. Let’s see. I have two books in first draft. Three books in idea stage, forming in the back of my head. I have one book of a trilogy written which has been indefinitely put on hold while I work on book series, and a non-fiction book that needs editing and refining. How many does that make???

  3. Let’s see. I have two books in first draft stage. Three books in idea stage, forming in the back of my head. First book of a trilogy which has been put on hold while I work on a series. And a non-fiction book in need of refining and editing. How many does that give me????

What do you think? Please leave a comment!