Book Deal to Book Shelf in 3 Months: 8 Steps to Delivering Under Aggressive Deadlines

This blog post is about working under aggressive deadlines to deliver great results. The task at hand is writing a book under extreme pressure without compromising quality or giving up your life and sanity in the process.

I share my experience of going from a book deal to book on the shelves in three months. I outline the 8 major steps that helped me accomplish this task and I’m here to tell you that you too can pull miracles under the right kind of pressure. Yes, you reading this, you can and will do whatever it takes to meet crazy deadlines and create your amazing work.

Your best allies are singular focus on the task at hand and deep faith in yourself. Remember those two if you remember nothing else. Now onto the story:

book-on-shelf-farnoosh-brock

November 15, 2012: A well-established traditional publisher approaches us to ask if we are interested in working with them. They had spotted my Comprehensive Green Juicing Guide on the Kindle store and wanted to re-publish an updated print version with wide distribution.

November 19, 2012: I politely decline the offer, as flattering as it is to be approached by a well-respected traditional publisher. “Why, you crazy woman?”, you might be tempted to ask? Great question. I wanted to keep the rights to my first juice book and besides, I had heard traditional publishing was a painful and long process. The whole prospect didn’t excite me and it did not fit into my current priorities.

November 20-27, 2012: The publisher is very persuasive and I start to like them. After all, I am one persuasive woman and love seeing the same trait in others. So we spend a week going back and forth to craft a mutually exciting agreement and what do you know, it comes together! They agree to leave my first book alone if I write us a brand spanking new book on the broader subject of juicing. Win-win for all. This is the moment I start jumping up and down from joy. Unfortunately, it lasts all of five minutes when I realize that I now need to hire a very expensive publishing lawyer (whaaaa?) to review my contract terms and make sure all the legalese is in good shape so nothing comes back biting me a few months or years down the road.

Step #1 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: Hire a reputable publishing lawyer to review your book deal contract. Do your due diligence here because if you care about your business, this step is absolute necessity. Don’t skip it.

December 6, 2012: We – me, my husband and my fancy publishing lawyer – negotiate with our potential publisher back and forth for a week until everyone is happy. They finalize the contract, I sign my first ever book deal and go celebrate. With a green juice of course!

December 7, 2012: Time to get to work. My manuscript is due to the publishers by January 13. That gives me 5 weeks. I also have 4 trips planned all over the country and 2 speaking engagements in the same month. No problem! In fact, I add to my challenge with this self-imposed condition: My new book, The Healthy Juicer’s Bible, will be a brand new book, new content, new information, without re-packaging content form my first book. I’ve read too many second books by authors where 80% of the material was identical to the first book. Not cool! Also, it will be about 300 pages, a hard-cover beauty with gorgeous photography, and at least 50 mouth-watering recipes.

All I have to do is write a brand new book. In 5 weeks. With travel and speaking engagements thrown in. And the Christmas holidays. Oh and this happening the same time that my husband is quitting his corporate job to join Prolific Living.

Time to pull a miracle, and this is when you disrupt old beliefs about time. The first fact about delivering under aggressive deadlines is this: Yes you can pull miracles under extreme pressure. I had a college professor who said we do our best under pressure. I have tested his theory and it works. Under pressure, you operate in a different state and as a responsible person, you simply do not allow yourself to fail. Period.

Step #2 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: Have deep faith that you can do this. Don’t let anything plant a seed of doubt in your mind between now and your deadline. You are writing that book and that’s all there is to it.

Dec 9, 2012: We are in Franklin, Tennessee for a Christmas party. I am still very relaxed, which is not a good sign. Andy, my husband who has quit his job just two days ago, is showing signs of serious concern if I don’t get busy fast. We spend 4 hours at the Frothy Monkey coffee shop – excellent sandwiches and delicious tea! – and we hammer out the outline.

Step #3 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: You need someone to hold you seriously accountable. You need someone to breathe down your neck, check in with you every day and review and edit your every word. Husbands and wives make great such people. If you don’t have one of those, sign up your best friend but get someone that you fully trust to be your partner in this journey!

Step #4 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: The outline sets the whole tone. Do your outline first. Do it fast but thoroughly and if at all possible, do not make changes to the outline! If you must make changes, remember Step #4. Review the outline with your partner. Finalize it. Commit to it and be done with it in one day!

Dec 12, 2012: We are in Hawaii on what was going to be a relaxing vacation. I take my laptop to the beach to work on chapter 1. I end up staring at the ocean instead. The waves are so pretty. I decide I can’t work on the beach and the book has to wait. The next day, I catch a terrible cold and don’t want to be anywhere near beach for the rest of my Hawaii vacation. Can you say irony? It is the perfect excuse to write. Indoors. For hours on end. I don’t seem to mind this so much because the writing is flowing.

Step #5 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: Choose the right place to write your book. I love to write away from home. Far away states or better yet, countries. And in make-shift offices like coffee shops, condos or hotel rooms, or airport lounges. My writing flows. My mind feels free and creative, away from home distractions. Where do you write your best? Go there!

Dec 19, 2012: I spend most of my vacation in Hawaii writing the bulk of The Healthy Juicer’s Bible. I write between 4-5 hours a day, divided in 2 chunks, morning and afternoon/evening. I give myself a daily word-count minimum and don’t stop working until I have met the goal. And if I am having a particularly good day writing, I never ever stop until I have hit the very end of that stride.

Step #6 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: Create your writing schedule. First calculate how many words per chapter you need to write to satisfy your publisher’s requirements. Check with them if you want to go over that limit. Then calculate your minimum words/day into your schedule and be sure to leave at least 5-7 days for editing and revising, picking all your book photos if any and a little cushion at the end just in case!

Dec 23, 2012: We take two days off to spend Christmas with family. I have finished 75% of the book by Christmas with just over 2 more weeks to go. The publishers have been absolutely delightful to work. Everything is on schedule. We play family games at Christmas and envision holding the finished book in our hands. Envision a lot during the whole process.

Step #7 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: Schedule a short complete break from writing/editing/working. We do our best work under pressure, yes, but because you are under so much pressure, you have got to balance it out by stepping away from the work to re-charge.

Jan 1, 2013: I finish 85% of the book in the last days of the new year at home but then have to stop to prepare for my panel talk at New Media Expo in Las Vegas. I had already factored this into my writing schedule. We spend 4 days in Las Vegas prior to the conference, where I write a little more, but it’s very hard to be productive.

Jan 9-13, 2013: The most intense period of the 5 week period: writing, editing, revising, picking stock photos, suggesting best layout and book index, and last but not least, reading and re-reading and reading yet again the entire manuscript before sending it off to the publisher 12 hours earlier than the deadline no less.

Step #8 to write & deliver under aggressive deadline: Fix everything that will inevitably go wrong in the last 5-7 days. No matter how well you plan, the last week before the deadline is going to be crazy. Murphy’s Law is at work. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. You need to prepare to commit and re-commit and over-commit the last days and hours. Remember from earlier: work in a little cushion for the last week.

Rest of January, February and March: The book is now off your hands and on its way to go on the shelf early March. Now is time to get it *off* those shelves. Two words: Book marketing. This is not to be an afterthought, dear writer. Start talking about the book as soon as the ink is dry on that book deal, and even then, it’s pushing it. Marketing your book in your own original style and way is the best thing you can do for yourself and your publisher.

March 7, 2013: The Healthy Juicer’s Bible hits the shelves on bookstores everywhere, online and at Cotsco’s. My experience working with a traditional publisher: an absolute dream, excellent all around, and could not have been better. I decide not to believe the hype and go for first-hand experience from now on.

book-on-shelf-farnoosh-brock

That about wraps it up without going into excruciating detail. Unless you want me to. In which case I can write a part 2 version. Now it’s your turn, how do you work under aggressive deadlines? And do you have any experience working with a traditional publisher to add or speak to any of the points here. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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  • http://www.midwaymarketplace.com Maxwell Ivey

    Hi Farnoosh; I am so proud of you. I wish you all the best with the new book. I don’t really have any deadlines to deal with now, but when i was in college; I found that i did my best writing in the small quiet hours of the night. of course, this could have had something to do with living in communal living arrangements. I find living with my family that i get the most done when everyone is sleeping. considering that in addition to the book and your travel schedule you still had to produce the weekly daily interaction shows you could probably do a book on time management next. best of luck my friend, max

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dear Max, I hear you I do – I am lucky I live with a very quiet husband. In fact, I am usually asking him to make some noise so I know he’s still there :)! But you are managing brilliantly if you already know what’s productive in your environment … there are things we can’t change but then there are so many ways to work around them! Yes, I had to still do our podcast too – it was an intense period but I love it. Thanks so much for your continued love & support, Max!

      • http://www.midwaymarketplace.com Maxwell Ivey

        Hi Farnoosh; must be unusual living with someone so quiet. I think of myself as generally the quiet one in this household too. the other thing is late at night my doggie is usually outside so i don’t have to stop to pet her. one of these days, i just know she is going to hide the laptop. smile and since we share a lot, I’ll tell you that i got a new phone this week. it isn’t an iphone but it does talk some. I can even reply to a text or send a text to someone on my contacts list. I can add contacts and do a lot of the usual phone stuff all the sighted people do. Patrick says i have to work on spelling in my texts. just another new trick for this older dog. the book is an impressive accomplishment, and i wish you all the best with it. take care, max

  • http://devacoaching.com Sandi Amorim

    You take the word inspiring to a whole other level Farnoosh! I feel like someone just lit a fire under my butt ;)

    Kidding aside, this is a major accomplishment and you handled it from start to finish with power and grace. A formidable and inspiring combination!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Sandi, I can’t wait to read a book by you. It will be infused with a mix of poetry, inspiration, personal story, linchpin, renegade, free spirit, love, compassion, pursuit of dreams, letting go, being zen and living fully. Keep the fire burning. And thank you so much for being a huge supporter and friend. I adore you to bits!

  • Jeanie

    Is THAT why I was so productive in school, but have become a slug since graduation?!

    Ok. Putting Gene ON it. I hatehatehate to disappoint other people, so I will use THAT to my good advantage.

    You are a ROCK STAR, Farnoosh, and the book is gorgeous! I love your commitment to fresh, great new content also–as a bibliophile, repurposed content makes me angry!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      That’s one reason but then again, I think you have followed a different journey than me, Jeanie, you know? And you can absolutely involve Gene – I would not be doing half as well without Andy behind me, I promise you ….
      thank you so so much for being a huge darling and a big fan and yes to original fresh new content!

  • http://jeffswalsh.com Jeff

    First time on this site, have to say after reading this article, I will be back. Reading your story was really inspiring. I am currently under a similar deadline, and I have found that planning is key to accomplishing the goal. I am so very glad you had a wonderful experience with your publisher, and thank you for making this post.

    One other thing I have found while working under pressure; you find what really matters to you. Due to the pressure and time frame, I have found that I develop a new perspective on things that occupied my time prior to that pressure. Things that maybe felt important before, lose some importance due to the fact that a real deadline is approaching. It can help put things into perspective, which is always good.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Jeff, I *love* your website and I see that you are a writer too. It’s a genre I want to tap into so I am very glad you stopped by and so very happy that this post was useful to you.
      And you couldn’t have said it better – our priorities become crystal clear under pressure, and if for no other reason than to know what’s truly important to us, an aggressive crazy deadline can be a great thing once in a while. You know?
      Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by and all the best to you – come back anytime of course and happy writing!

  • http://www.bravenewbiz.com Jenn

    How fun and exciting to read the story of how this all came together! :) I am definitely bookmarking this post for when I write my own book!

    And yes, I totally agree with your conclusion – I know I do my best work under some degree of pressure, although there is a point of diminishing returns, I think. I.e. at some point, if the pressure gets too high, then the work suffers – like if you’d had just three DAYS to write the book, probably it wouldn’t have resulted in your best work. :)

    But anyway, thank you so much for these steps and overview, and I vote for a more “exruciatingly detailed” Part 2!!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Just read your latest blog post and am so glad to see you here and on the web blogging away, sharing your thoughts, dear Jenn. That’s right, “when” you write your own book, which I can’t wait to celebrate with you.
      True to the diminishing returns, I think especially if the deadline is imposed to us on work that we find less than fulfilling or something we just “have to do”, you know? And point well-taken, I needed a minimum amount of time to write a book and do a good job. Absolutely!
      We’ll see about part 2 but vote noted ;)!

      • http://www.liveitmag.com Lena Ameri

        I also vote for part two!! Your writing is never excruciating no matter how much detail you go into!

  • http://www.studio139software.com Bruce Rodgers

    Farnoosh –
    Outstanding! Very informative and inspiring – And surprise, surprise: that’s exactly the way the book is! Brilliant, well done.

    I am tucking this story away for when I start writing in the not-too-distant future… And in the meantime, there are many principles within that I can start applying NOW in my own fledgling business.

    Kudos, and thanks!
    Bruce

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Mr. Rodgers, how goes it, my friend? Thank you so much for the vote of confidence, and am I ever so excited that you are into juicing now. A book is so very much in your near future, Bruce, and I am going to be one of your very first readers. Keep hustling. Good things are on the horizon! Thanks for stopping over.

  • Melly Deen

    The book is GORGEOUS, Farnoosh. I picked it up yesterday at my Barnes & Noble. I can’t believe you put this together in this short span of time – feeling inspired to write my book after reading this … although still deciding between self-publish or getting an agent. Great post!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Thank you dear Melly. As for self-publish or traditional with getting an agent as an option, I really think it depends. If you want to get your work out there and you can’t work with a traditional publisher on your timeline – my timeline was an exception, as most books take 12-18 months even with this publisher – my suggestion is to self-publish first. That’s how these guys found me. All the best to you, Melly and keep me posted.

    • http://www.studio139software.com Bruce Rodgers

      (BTW, I completely agree with Melly – the presentation of the book itself is truly stunning! The layout, the colors, the print, the paperstock, … and the photos – including the dustjacket AND matching cover – ARE “mouth-wateringly” beautiful! I even love the size/dimensions of the book itself. Big Kudos to you and Andy! -Bruce)

      • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

        Bruce, so glad you said that about size. When I first got my author copy, I thought it was small but then it has grown on me and I think it’s the perfect size. Can’t wait to hear about the first juice you make :)!

        • http://www.studio139software.com Bruce Rodgers

          Oh believe me, you’ll be the first to know! Tough to choose which, but there’s plenty of great recipes in a *certain* book/Bible I know…. :)

  • http://www.primejuicers.com Rich Donahue

    Hi Farnoosh,
    I’m reading through your new book and it is fantastic. I’ve been juicing for a few years and I have enjoyed both of your books. I can especially relate to how you started juicing and your perspective on life in general. It’s fascinating how you created this new work in such a short period of time. Just amazing! You’re very inspiring and thank you once again.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Rich, so glad the book has content and information that you are finding useful. We had a tight deadline to work with, yes. Love that we share the fascination with juicing and the mission to spread the word about it. Thank you for your comment AND for what you are doing for the juicing communities!

  • http://www.thinkfeminist.com Blessing @ThinkFeminist.com

    You are kidding right? Are you saying that the thorough juicing bible with details that’s life-changing was written and published in only 3 months? You just redefined superwoman! And you kept things going under and control. As a reader, I knew you were writing a book but I couldn’t tell. Nothing much changed on the blog and you were on top of all the newsletters and such. You are forever my inspiration! The book was inspiring and the pictures gorgeous! Of course you know that since I wrote an entire blogpost about it!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dear Blessing, no kidding. The book itself was written in more like 5 intense crazy weeks but the layout and editing and photos and all that came in the rest of those 3 months. It was intense and I am SO glad you enjoyed it and your blog post was wonderful – did you see my publishers even tweeted it? They contacted me about it before I even told them about it – they must have just come across it. Thanks again and I am so happy you didn’t miss a beat while I was writing this book.

  • http://www.chrisakins.com Chris Akins

    Farnoosh,

    An inspiring story and great road map. Thanks!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Chris, so good to see you here again and thank you much!!

  • http://www.liveitmag.com Lena Ameri

    How exciting!! I love the photo of you with your book at the store! I can’t wait to pick up a copy! I’m sure it will be just as much fun to read as all your posts are!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Lena, thank you SO much for stopping by – I love to know what you think of the book. So kind, and so encouraging. Are you juicing yet by the way?

  • http://www.razorsocial.com Ian Cleary

    Hey Farnoosh,

    Such a great story. Well done and a magnificent achievement. It just shows the importance of a deadline!

    I hope all is great!

    Ian

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Ian, indeed the importance of those dreaded deadlines! Great to see you here and hope you are doing wonderful. All good here too!

  • http://www.poweredbyintuition.com Angela Artemis

    Farnoosh,
    I knew you wouldn’t crumple under the pressure. You are a trooper! This is a great achievement – well worth the pressure. Now you are celebrating – and I am celebrating with you.
    Best,
    Angela

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      My dear Angela and fellow author, thank you so much for the lovely words … I know your throughput is amazing under (self-imposed mainly) pressures and you inspire me. thank you so much for being happy for me!

  • http://learnactshare.com Pete Ferguson

    Not a good post for me to read when I have my own book to write :-).

    Fantastic job – and you also were working a wee bit on Crack the Code for part of this time I recall.

    You did a beautiful job on the text and photos. This is the kind of book we’d keep on our easel on the counter. I look forward to discussing Crack the Code launch.

    Pete

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Pete, you keep me honest with Crack the Code – thank you I need it and don’t you worry, I’ll keep you equally honest with your book … so very glad you enjoyed the book. It’s a little beauty, I must admit. Publishers did an amazing job.

  • Kim

    Great job! You make it sound so easy! I vote for part 2 simply because I am missing the drama! This is your personal life so I understand censorship, but give us one break down, one moment where your husband ran for tnbe door, or one tiny moment of, dare I say it, regret.

    Best of luck!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Oh no no – nothing easy here darling! Not at all. But POSSIBLE! That’s the message I wanted to send. As for arguments, stress or little melt-downs or days when I didn’t want to think or write, so many! I can tell you one since you asked: We were in the Frothy Monkey coffee shop up in Franklin visiting some people and we HAD to do the outline. Andy – my hubby – kept chopping my outline and changing my wording and then he came to the Juice Fast section and thought we should not have a chapter on that. Let me tell you that I came very close to making the scene. In fact, I ended up writing the LONGEST chapter for juice fasting AND I wrote it first (can ou say stubborn reaction? ;)) How is that?
      Part 2: no promises but you just got a special little taste. Are you writing a book too?

      • Kim

        lol thanks Farnoosh! You are great..I really admire your perserverance (I won’t call it stubborness ;) I am working on a textbook right now and as a matter of fact I might be contacting you for self-publishing! See you soon and thanks for sharing.

        • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

          Great to hear you are writing too, Kim. Bring it on! My fabulous hubby will gladly take care of the formatting & self-publishing part for you!

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