Institutional Context

10 Developing a Timeline

I think authors will surprise themselves with how much they can write each day. I received a summer grant to revise my course and write the textbook. I wrote the text over the summer and set myself a weekly writing goal and then broke down the writing goal by day so I could stay on track. — Caitie Finlayson, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Mary Washington. Author of World Regional Geography (CC BY NC SA).

People work and write at different paces. Even the same people work and write at different paces, depending on internal and external variables that can change at any time. That said, developing a timeline is an important process for clarifying expectations and ensuring optimal team work. Typical timelines are 3-12 months.

Often the best timelines are created together, between authors and project mangers, working backwards from a deadline. The deadline may be personally set, or determined by the academic calendar, a grant or other external organization. It’s also useful to consult with others you’re working with — freelance editors or proofreaders, for example — to see what their schedules are like and what kind of turn-around time they need.

Here’s one example of a possible timeline:

Date Completed
September 15 Outline with selected elements and structure identified
December 30 Chapters 1-5
March 15 Chapters 6-9
March 30 Submit Manuscript
May 1 Proofreading
June 15 Peer Review
July 30 Revisions

Of course, what’s included in the timeline is dependent on the project scope, publishing program services and/or author responsibilities. It’s also helpful to incorporate a plan for updates and revisions into the timeline.