The spreadsheets that help me tame the minutia of indie publishing

I’ve been reading a lot lately about spreadsheets and inventories on The Daily Journal.

Reading about the time involved in such a massive project has made me very happy that I’ve been tracking my stuff from the very beginning.

My main “publish-list” spreadsheet is up to ten tabs of data these days, and even includes all the sales links for my books on all the retailers I upload to. It’s been a handy thing to have.

I include so much in this spreadsheet that it’s difficult to think of something I can’t find there.

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Within those tabs, I have a sheet called “File Updates” that tells me how long it’s been since I updated a file on any particular distributor site. It was a wake up call when I added that one because I ended up with a lot of titles in the “2000+ days” category, meaning all the back matter was way out of date.

I recently decided to tackle those old files and the way I’m doing it is to have a goal of updating at least one old file each week on an ongoing basis. That’s 52 files updated in a year, so that means I will have caught up within a year or so without adding in a lot of extra work or losing a lot of writing time.

(I have 34 titles at this point. Someday it will become more than a year’s worth of weeks of updates but I’ll worry about that when it happens.)

I also have a pretty streamlined EPUB generation system these days so this first year of updates will go a long way to making future updates take minutes instead of the hour or so it will take for some of these books now and will mean I should be able to easily update multiple books at a time instead of keeping it to one a week after this first round.

I update my publish-list spreadsheet every time I publish something or make a change that needs to be recorded. And keeping this thing updated is something I force myself to do every time I do anything that affects the data I keep up with. I don’t let myself off the hook on this, ever. It’s just too probable that something will slip through the cracks if I do.

Chopped up writing day but a writing day it will be

It’s going to be a chopped up day but writing can’t wait, so I’m setting aside several blocks of time. I’m posting here for the accountability. I’ll come back and fill in my progress later today when I have the time to spare. I think I’m going to like this planning and working to the plan thing. :)

10:15–11:15 am

I wrote 588 words during this block of time.

5:00–7:30 pm

I wasn’t even home yet. So this one didn’t work out.

9:00–10:30 pm

I was so dead tired I didn’t even bother looking at my computer. Two hours longer in the pool than I planned wiped me out.

I love swimming but I came home as wrinkled as a prune and more sunburned than I wanted. Luckily, I have skin than tans easily once I start getting a little sun, and I had been acclimating myself to the sun this year in an effort to raise my low Vitamin D levels and avoid the supplements my doctor wanted me to take for the next year.

(And I will say, today—I’m writing this update on Friday morning, the day after—I feel really good. The exercise and sun really did me a favor. :) Hopefully I’ll see the benefits in my writing stamina! I’d like to write a lot of words today. I’ll update with a link when Friday’s post goes live.)

Thursday words: 588

*I take my ending document word count and input it into my spreadsheet, which calculates the difference from the ending word count for the day before and tells me how many words I “wrote”, which of course, isn’t about how many words I wrote at all. It’s about how many words more my document contains today than it contained yesterday.

It’s by far the easiest way to track word counts and keeps me honest about the progress I’m making each day writing words that will end up published. :)

Screenshot of my word count tracker spreadsheet

As you can see in the screenshot of my spreadsheet, I’m currently trying to practice my way into writing 2,995 words a day.

I’m nowhere near close to that as a daily average, so don’t get goggly-eyed at it. I’m not there and who knows if I ever will be. I’d like to be, for reasons I won’t get into in this post, and that’s why that number is there. :)

Finally, those word count lengths in my spreadsheet for novel, novella, and novelette are my personal goals. The SFWA sets novels at 40,000+, novellas at 17,500+, and novelettes at 7,500+ words, and I use something very close to those definitions as my own guide when categorizing my stories. :)

Screenshot of the Nebula Award rules from the SFWA website

My length categorizations are only slightly different and at this point I can’t remember exactly why that is. :)

Novel > 40,000 words
Novella = 15,000 to 40,000 words
Novelette = 7,000 to 15,000 words
Short story < 7,000 words

In all honesty, I think it’s because I have more stories than not that fall at the upper edges of those word counts and I felt like they fit the category above more than they fit the category below so I adjusted the numbers to fit my writing style. :)