Posted on Posted in Starting a New Story

Introduction to the 30 Day Book Launch Challenge

Why 30 Working Days?

Focus and momentum. I don’t know about you but my attention span is getting shorter and the work really can expand to fill the time available.

Intense focus works in NaNoWriMo and you can really leverage a 30 day window, working an average of 5 days a week for 6 weeks. If you have more time than 5 days a week, great.

This means that my 30 Day Work timetable is:

Week One: Wed. 22 Nov. to Fri 24 Nov. [3 days]

Week Two: Mon. 27 Nov. to Fri 01 Dec. [5 days]

Week Three: Mon. 04 Dec. to Fri 08 Dec. [5 days]

Week Four: Mon. 11 Dec. to Fri 15 Dec. [5 days]

Week Five: Mon. 18 Dec. to Fri 22 Nov. [5 days]

Christmas and New Year Holiday week off.

Week Six: Thurs. 04 Jan. to Fri 05 Jan. 2018 [2 days, to catch up over New Year – but I might do more]

Week Seven: Mon. 08 Jan to Fri. 12th Jan. 2018 [5 days]

Launch Schedule

My target Pre-Order date for this book starts Monday 15th January 2018.

My target Launch date for this book is Tuesday 23rd January 2018.


But the 6 week period runs after Christmas and New Year!

Yes, I know that starting this challenge in October would have been a much better idea. But life has a habit of getting in the way, and I am where I am.

What Pre-Writing have I done up to now?

Right now I have written the first draft of book one in this cozy mystery series and want to complete the second book using the 30 Day Book Launch Challenge. Both book one and book two will be launched on the same day.

I want to give this new series the very best chance it can, and to me, that means waiting until January when the holiday mayhem has calmed down a little.

One Big Disclaimer.

This is my personal journey for a 50,000 cozy mystery book. The genre of your book, whether fiction or non-fiction, your wordcount, and your life situation could be completely different from mine, so please don’t worry if your timelines are not the same. In fact, I would be very surprised if they are! But the principles, tools and techniques still apply, whether it takes you 30 days or 90 days to launch your book.

I am also a trained scientist so charts and tables might appear. Don’t be scared! They are super useful.

So let’s get started!


STEP ONE. The Foundations


  • The book I want to write is a Cozy Mystery novel with a culinary theme.
  • The goal is to create an entertaining murder mystery set in an English village with a light witty voice. Which means no swearing, gory details or sexual content.
  • The target wordcount is 45,000 to 50,000 words.
  • Short enough to read in a couple of hours. This will also be linked to a lower price range which makes it affordable.
  • The title of this book is: Murder and Merlot.


  • I want to self-publish this book – and indeed the complete new series.
  • Time needs to be built in for formatting and book cover design for both the eBook and print formats to meet Amazon and Createspace specifications.
  • I will be publishing using a new pen name for these cozy mysteries – Sophie Brent.
  • I shall therefore need to have a new domain name and website, and build a social media platform for this new pen name.


All down to me. The focus will be on building an email list of Cozy Mystery Readers as soon as possible using multiple tools.  The most important phase is the pre-launch marketing activity, then launch week, then post-launch.


STEP TWO. Creating a Weekly Work Plan

There is an old adage in business which says that if something is not written down, then it is not measured.

Unfortunately this is true.

I have to write a detailed plan of what needs to be done every week if I have any chance of meeting the launch dates.

My target Hard Launch date for this book is Tuesday 23rd January 2018.

Book is live and on sale as both eBook and print book.

My target Pre-Order date for this book starts Monday 15th January 2018.

This means that the manuscript has to be complete and loaded onto Kindle Direct Publishing [KDP] and Creatspace and available for Pre-Order on this date. All of the pre-launch marketing efforts will then kick in, supported by the new website and marketing materials.

This sets the clock ticking and all of the planning and timelines work backwards from this date to make sure that everything will be in place to meet these launch dates.

I have found that the best way to create a launch plan is to divide the work into the three different strands – Writing, Publishing and Marketing.

This prevents me from feeling overwhelmed and confused. I know what I have to do and the order I have to do it in.

How do I create a Weekly Work Plan?

I work backwards from the Pre-Order Date and build a roadmap of what needs to happen and when.

For example: On Monday 15th January 2018 I want to have the book available for Pre-Order on Amazon. This is Week 8 on the schedule.

Week 7: Book is complete, edited, proofread and formatted and live for PRE-ORDER in eBook and Print on Amazon KDP, and all of the marketing traffic is being driven to the Amazon book page.

Check that the print and eBooks are synchronized on the same page.  Claim the kindle and print book on Amazon Author Central and check that the book is in the correct categories and the description etc looks okay.

Week 6: Edit manuscript. Full spell check and grammar check. Proofread. Update 5 x 8 paperback template file with the new content. Save as PDF. Load onto Createspace so that content can be approved. Order proof copy of print book asap.

Week 5: Use timed writing sessions to finish manuscript of book 2.

Week 4: Use timed writing sessions to create manuscript of book 2.

Week 3: Use timed writing sessions to create manuscript of book 2.

Week 2: Use timed writing sessions to create manuscript of book 2.

Week 1 [Now]: Use timed writing sessions to outline book 2 and work on storyline and characters.

I hope that makes sense.

Tomorrow I will work through my weekly plan and chat about my story develooment process.

Have a good one! Nina


  1. I’m interested to see you will be using a pen name. Is this only for the purposes of this 30 day challenge, or will you be using your new pen name to build an alternative brand for your writing? I’ve been mulling over the pros and cons of having a pen name and duplicating everything: brand creation, social media, website etc. It could be a LOT of extra work!

    1. Hi Lisa
      Yes, I am going for a new pen name for my cozy mystery series. You are quite correct. It is a lot of work. To keep it super simple I am building a new basic one-page website and have bought the domain name for Sophie Brent, but I don’t have a problem with readers knowing that I am Nina Harrington, so I plan to use my Nina social media platform, which has taken 9 years to build up, as the main channel for promotion and sharing updates etc. for Sophie Brent. I am still trying to decide whether to create a Twitter account.
      The main reason for a new website is that the Nina Harrington site is geared towards romance WRITERS.
      The Sophie Brent site is for cozy mystery READERS, and that changes everything. Where can I find cozy mystery readers? Are they on Facebook and Twitter? Probably not. You have to go where your audience is.
      Good question. Best of luck!

      1. Thanks for such a comprehensive reply! I see what you mean about the different audiences. I’m having a ball following along with the 30 days challenge, by the way 🙂

  2. Hi Nina, from Maine, USA! I’d love to do the challenge along with you. I’m only seeing this 4 days after you are starting. Question: will you share with us the steps or tools you use to outline the cozy novel? I’m writing one now, and I need help with the structure, i.e., by page 30 “x” should happen. Happy to be along!

    1. Hi Kate. I am a story craft geek so yes, I will be covering how I create a basic outline for each sequence in my cozy mystery. Right now I am at the story development stage with a basic framework of 4 Acts and 16 sequences but my ideas are still being worked out, so stay with me and I’ll get there. *waves to Maine*

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