Quarterly planner templates for writers

My major accomplishment today has been to write a quarterly planner for writing projects. It might not sound like much but it has made me feel better directed and more motivated already. I don’t really go in for those inspirational sayings: Fail to plan, and you plan to fail, and all that gumpf. But the quarterly planner could just have found itself a new devotee.

I came across it in a blog post or a podcast, can’t remember which, by ALLi – the Alliance of Independent Authors. I’m newly joined up, and cracking on through the rich motherlode of insider knowledge about self-publishing that this gets me, as I position myself as an independent author.

There’s a lot to do as an indie author. You’re a writer, a business manager, and a marketer. That’s a lot of spreading yourself thin, and I’m already very talented at that.

I don’t know about you, but I work best on WAGOLL principles – What A Good One Looks Like. Frustratingly, I wasn’t able to find a completed example of a writer’s quarterly plan on the internet. But in the end, coming up with my own was easier than I thought.

My Quarterly Planner Template

Yesterday, I brainstormed the three projects closest to my heart, and this morning I woke up feeling all put-together, and got them down on paper. Here you see the result, in this fluorescently decorated beauty. It may be home-made, it may need adjustment, but it’s a plan.

A quarterly plan for a writer lies on a desk next to a laptop computer

Each of the three projects has a column.

  • Sissinghurst Day, a short story which I want to self-publish and start promoting as soon as possible.
  • Instagram for Authors and Book Lovers: a workshop I’ll present by Zoom to eager beaver writers.
  • Saddleback Wife: my next book, about the running of our farm and food business, revealing the ‘Under-Porkbelly’ of the gourmet farming world.

The sheet is then divided from top to bottom into months: September, October November. Here’s what the quarter for my short story Sissinghurst Day looks like:

SEPTEMBER:

  • Absolutely finalise story
  • Write afterwords
  • Write front / end papers
  • Design cover
  • Buy picture for cover
  • Write blurb
  • Cost out publishing
  • Produce book
  • Nominate launch date
  • Send ARC to Beta readers for reviews on launch
  • Identify keywords
  • Identify comparative titles
  • Identify key readers
  • Identify categories

OCTOBER

  • Upload onto five platforms
  • Launch
  • Scope out promotional plan
  • Promote / advertise
  • Research key readers more – Kent, gardeners, VSW accolites, Sissinghurst fans
  • Consider print copies

NOVEMBER

  • Review sales
  • Set up financial records
  • Research audio books
  • Record story
  • Upload audio book
  • Promote audio book

So now that I’ve got a writers plan, it’s on to do the actual work. Today I’ve written 30 minutes of Saddleback Wife. I’ve designed the front cover of Sissinghurst Day on Canva, using an image I’ll purchase from GAPPhotos. And I’ve scoped out costs and reminded myself that it doesn’t cost anything to upload books. 

I get to put two ticks on the list, and feel like I know what to do next, rather than having it swimming around my head, and feeling like I’m drifting. Quarterly Planners, people. Try it out.

Fiona Stocker

Fiona Stocker’s next book, Sissinghurst Day, will be out in October. For updates on writerly things, sign up to the newsletter – or follow on social media.

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9 thoughts on “Quarterly planner templates for writers

    1. Hi Stuart, thanks for dropping by! To be honest, I always have a busy quarter ahead, but at least now I can see the wood from the trees. I think.
      Have a good week / month / quarter yourself!

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    1. I’m not normally a planner either, not like this, but I am organised, and I can see this really helping – it maps out exactly what I need to do for each project. We’ll see if it works! Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

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  1. Great idea! I need to think about doing something similat.

    I have Apple Island Wife on my bedside table, competing with 20 titles on my kindle. I much prefer a book though, so …

    You have already sold me the Sissinghurst project, just with your list. I love that place!

    Just spotted today, in a question from a WLM Author, the difference between a Beta reader (lots of feedback, final corrections etc.) And an ARC reader who reads the finished item and hopefully leaves a review. Question posted by Irene Pylypec. I didn’t know what they were myself.

    And lastly, I too am a member of ALLi but have found the amount of information overwhelming, so thanks for the encouragement to go back to that. So much to learn! Good luck!

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    1. Hi Helen,
      It’s good to hear that the Sissinghurst story looks appealing. I think a lot of people are intrigued by that place. I’m intending on developing a list of Beta readers soon, as I’ve heard of people using them instead of a substantive edit, and I can see myself doing that. And I’m going to look for ARC readers too, who I’ll send an advanced e-book copy to once I’ve formatted them, in return for reviews. It’s a good way to kick start your book and mark the launch. So I understand! Last time around, I had a publisher helping with this process, but I feel ready to do it myself this time round. I’m finding ALLi hugely helpful!
      Thanks for commenting.

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  2. My goodness me, that is a lot of work planned (especially, it seems to me, for September). I am really interested in your short story project. Do I understand correctly that it is just one short story you are going to upload and sell? What sort of word count are you thinking of? And do you have an idea of what platforms you are going to upload to? Very interesting!

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    1. Hi Karenlee! It is indeed just the one short story. Seems like a strange idea, doesn’t it, but another independent author on the ALLi Facebook forum told me he publishes all his, as a ‘tiny chap book’. Chap books are usually poetry, and can be very short, I’ve heard that before. This is a short story but it’s in the lyrical tradition so will have similar appeal. It’s between 3,000 and 4,000 words currently. I’m going to finalise, and it may extend more. But I’m going to write about how the story came about, as a result of a unit in my Masters, and also a way of processing the grief and sense of loss during lockdown – I think that’s a story of as much appeal as the story itself. And I’ll write something about wanting to write about Sissinghurst for a long time too.
      The idea of adding these parts in is something I can do if I go the self-publishing route, as you can basically do whatever you want! That has huge appeal. Also, I can get it into the market quickly.
      There is undoubtedly too much in this plan, but it has at least given me a road map.
      How are you going – regional Vic? Staying safe?

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      1. Sounds fantastic Fiona and I will look forward to reading it. Short stories are a hard sell these days (regular market, I mean) so I have been thinking of doing something outside the square myself. I will watch your progress with great interest.
        I am very lucky to be travelling the world at this time. We have been in Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Croatia. Heading to Iceland next week. Unable to return to Oz due to locked borders, we may head back to Canada next year.

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