BookPlanner: The New Cure for Publishing Paralysis

by | Dec 7, 2015

At a webinar being run today, Tracy Atkins and I will introduce a new tool for authors—or for anyone who is trying to find their way through the maze of book publishing—to bring a book to market.

It’s called BookPlanner, and you can get your first look at it near the end of today’s event.

The idea for BookPlanner arose directly from my talks with authors over the years.

As many of you know, I started self-publishing in 1986. In the 1990s I opened my book design business to other self-publishers, and for the past 6 years or so, I’ve devoted myself entirely to the indie authors who are publishing their own books.

Through talks, consulting sessions, presentations to publishing industry groups, blog questions, and the unending stream of questions in my inbox, authors have let me know the things that make publishing frustrating, confusing, and that even make them quit.

I hate that.

What I’ve learned from these authors is that the most pressing need is to understand the process of publishing. It’s only from seeing how all the pieces fit together that an author can feel confident moving forward toward publication.

But let me tell you a story that will explain something about this background.

How I Met One of My Heroes

A couple of years ago I received a request to consult with Michael Hyatt. Michael is an author, blogger, speaker, podcaster, and the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest religious publishers in the world.

Michael HyattThis gave me pause. While still at Thomas Nelson, Hyatt had started blogging. Soon after he became a full time blogger and internet marketer with a massive following, a great blog, and a number 1 New York Times bestseller.

In short, one of my heroes.

What could he want to talk about that he didn’t already know? And pay for the time??

The fact is that large publishers, like most large corporations, are organized hierarchically, and people who work there usually specialize in one part of the process.

But when you become a self-publisher, you need to know at least something about the whole process to get everything lined up and tackled in order to have the most efficient—and profitable—publication.

One thing that grew out of our conversation was a small spreadsheet I put together in Excel to create a kind of timeline of the tasks in the publishing process. What was most important about this was the dependencies.

In other words, you have to do some things before you can do other things. How to connect the many tasks it takes to produce a professional quality book, that was the problem.

Over the years since then I’ve played around with that spreadsheet, then turned it over to Tracy Atkins, my partner in and an experienced technologist. He and I have spent the last year creating a simple, easy to use software application based on that spreadsheet, with the help our developers at INSite Business Services, and the result is the BookPlanner application.

BookPlanner: A Book Project Manager with Expert Guidance Made for Self-Published Authors

The best way to get an idea of what BookPlanner is and how it can help you simplify your publishing life is to check out the BookPlanner page, it’s all explained in detail there.

Book PlannerHere are some highlights that I think will make this tool invaluable to indie authors:

  1. Expert Guidance
    Each task in Book Planner includes detailed expert guidance about what to do, how long it will take, where to get resources, and how to save time and money doing it. These comprehensive instructions are written to be easy to understand and simple to follow so you can focus on the task at hand.
  2. Automated Plan Builder
    Book Planner uses your input to build a complete task list customized for your schedule. All you do is pick from a list of pre-built plans the one that best fits your needs. Then Book Planner automatically creates a real-world schedule, complete with all of the tasks that will fit into the time you have available.
  3. Everywhere You Need It
    Book Planner is a web-enabled application that looks beautiful on your PC, Mac, Tablet or Smartphone. Use it anywhere you have a web browser—at your desk, or on the go, from all of your devices, making it even easier to stay on track.
  4. Easy to Use
    Making your book project quick and easy to manage is a top priority. Hey, book publishing should be fun, not an exercise is stressing you out. Your task list and calendar are up-front so you know exactly what you need to do and how long you have to get it done. We’re authors too, so we’ve made task and time management as simple as we possibly can.
  5. Customizable Book Project Manager
    Create and manage book plans for all of your books. It’s a flexible and customizable tool, so you can use it to manage a cover re-design, the editing of an anthology, or any other tasks in Book Planner.

BookPlanner-Calendar view

In Book Planner’s Calendar View, you see your tasks for the week, keeping you on track for pub date.

This week, we’re offering Charter Memberships in BookPlanner for only $5.99 per month. I realize this is about the same price as a turkey sandwich at Starbucks. It won’t stay that low for long, I can tell you that.

But BookPlanner is the first software app I’ve been involved with, and Tracy and I want to spend some quality time with the first group of people to use it. That way we’ll be able to continue to adjust its features, making it as useful as possible to as many authors as possible.

With BookPlanner you can plan an entire book production, or just a cover redesign, it’s very flexible.

If you’re reading this early on Monday December 7, 2015, come join us for the free webinar and the introduction to BookPlanner. Here’s the webinar registration page (it’s free): Book Planning for Indie Authors

If you’re reading it later than that, head over to the BookPlanner site and find out how this simple yet powerful tool can help you avoid the confusion and frustration in book publishing, putting you on track for even greater success in 2016.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Christine Madsen

    This sounds great, but in just skimming the text here, I spotted two spelling/grammatical errors in your text (not in other people’s writing–in yours), which gives me pause. If you’re that careless with the face you present to the world on the web, how careful are you with the templates that go into your product?

    • Shelley Sturgeon

      Hi Christine,

      As most writers know, it can be very difficult to find your own errors. That’s why editors play such an important part in the self-publishing process.

      Please email me the specifics of the errors you’ve discovered and I’ll be happy to correct them.


      • Chris

        Fourth paragraph: “As many of you know, I start self-publishing….”

        The second item that I spotted was a comma splice that I finally decided I couldn’t make a strong enough case to argue against. (I hate them, so you get away with it.) The other problems come in the answers you give to people’s questions, where I believe it is just as important to be editorially correct as it is in book content. But then I am an incredibly snobbish editorial prig, down to the final em-dash.

        • Shelley Sturgeon


          I made the correction. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. While we definitely strive for perfection, such is not always the case.

          It can be very satisfying to find someone else’s mistakes. Been there, done that. But, I think the fear of making mistakes prevents many people from creating content and putting it out there where people can benefit from the wealth of their thoughts, knowledge and experience. It’s important that we keep all of this in perspective, right? :-)


  2. Denny Stein

    Just signed up but get a long error message at login. ??

    • Tracy R Atkins

      Hello Denny,

      Can you send us an email using our contact us page on the bookplanner website? We will be happy help.

      Thank you so much for subscribing!

  3. Mirtika

    This sounds cool, guys. I read Conrad Zero’s excellent review and I wonder if you are going to incorporate his really fab suggestions to make it better for writers.

    Another question: Is this going to have in future (or now?) a way to plan and schedule the actual book creation process, not just the “after it’s done” planning? It looked to me that it planned the after-done process, but the before/during process would be important.

    And, finally: the $20 coupon I saw in email: will that have an expiration date or a use-whenever?

    Thanks, Joel and Tracy.

    • Tracy R Atkins

      Thank Mirtika!

      We have a number of upgrades, improvements, and features in the works that we plant to implement in the system over time. Our goal is to keep building Book Planner out to make it even more useful and valuable for our customers.

      The $20 coupons are good for an extended period, until 1/31/16.

      Thank you so much for your business,

  4. Monica T. Rodriguez

    What terrific timing! This new software is just what I need right now as I am gearing up to publish my first novel in the coming months. And the price is just right. Can’t wait to start using this!

    • Tracy R Atkins

      Thank you so much Monica! We really appreciate you!

  5. Susanne

    Hi Tracy,

    I missed the webinar. Will you be posting a link to it for those who missed it?

    Many thanks.

    The planner looks great.


  6. Sarah

    Will it be possible to create custom plans with book planner? The pre-made plans are nice, but sometimes I do things out of order (or have a strange project, with different needs) and would like to create a plan to accommodate my style.

    • Tracy R Atkins

      That is a great question Sarah! Yes, you can create your own ad-hock plans, instead of a complete book plan. We have each component of the publishing process, like cover design, editing, getting organized, etc, available as stand-alone segments that you can use to work just one section of the process, or do in a different order to suite your needs. With Book Planner, you can also check-off and remove any tasks you don’t want or need to do, and it will automatically advance your schedule on your project too. There is a lot of flexibility here for that.

  7. Conrad

    Does bookplanner have the ability to save project files (drafts, revisions, cover art, etc?)


    • Joel Friedlander

      Conrad, no, it doesn’t save files right now, although that’s already included in an upcoming new version of the product, along with the ability to “invite” vendors into your Book Plan to better coordinate with the entire project. We expect to launch that in the next few months.

      • Conrad

        Joel, That’s great to hear. It would be nice to keep all the related book files in one place!

        I’ve been exploring bookplanner and I’m really impressed so far! I’ve created other book publishing ‘systems’ like this with generic project management software but its so nice to have the info resource right there already broken out by the topic at hand. I think you’re right, this may be a replacement for self-publishing textbooks! As a ‘big picture’ person, the Gantt chart is a really nice feature. Very excited to get my publishing act together!

  8. Michael W. Perry

    You are so right. When I started Inkling Books in 1999, publishing was easy. Rather than buy and buy and buy ISBNs, I picked up 1,000 (yes a thousand) for the then-low price of $600. It’s proved one of my wisest investments.

    Publishing itself was also easy. Once I signed up as a publisher with Lightning Source, all I needed to do was send them cover and print files. Within a couple of weeks my book was available for order from Ingram and listed with online bookstores around the world. Ah, those were the good old days.

    I won’t grow into all the hassles of publishing today, just hint at them. For the print end, my workload has doubled. Both Lighting and Createspace now get files. Now there’s also the many times over complexities of digital. Apple and Kindle get versions and insist on a lot of data, including individual pricing for dozens of countries. I let Smashwords take care of the rest, but Smashwords is still Word for Windows-centric. I almost always get hassles when I send them the epub that InDesign creates. Still, that hassle is better than the trouble involved in sending files to all those to which Smashwords distributes.

    I’m hoping that Adobe has great plans for its otherwise mysterious Publish Online option for InDesign. Right now, it’s just a web version of the book that looks virtually identical to the print version. You can see my latest here:

    Click on the small arrow on the right to page through the book. Looks great doesn’t? Since I want nursing professors to use it as a textbook, rather than the expense of printing and mailing them copies, I can simply point them to that webpage.

    But better still would be a Publish Online that really is publishing online. Will Adobe offer to serve as an industry-wide ebook distributor? Will I eventually be able, within InDesign, to do real online publishing, taking care of the uploads to dozens of retailers with just one quick upload? I hope so. I’m a writer not a clerk.

    Publishing today simply has too much busy work. A big publisher can hire people who do nothing but manage those uploads and data entry. It’s a pain when you only do it once, months apart, and discover that the process has changed in the meantime.

    Best wishes for your Bookplanner service. It’ll bring some much needed order to all that complexity.

  9. Tracy R Atkins

    We are really excited about what Book Planner can do for authors to help them get organized, stay on task, and best of all, have the know-how to do it right at their fingertips.

    If anyone has any questions on Book Planner, please feel free to post them here.



  1. BookPlanner: The New Cure for Publishing Paralysis - […] But let me tell you a story that will explain something about …read more […]
  2. BookPlanner: The New Cure for Publishing Paraly... - […] At a webinar being run today, Tracy Atkins and I will introduce a new tool for authors—or for anyone…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *