Your Bullet Journal: 5 Tips For Self-Publishing Authors

Our writers’ group has several self-publishing authors who happily use a bullet journal. So, in our last meeting, we discussed ways to use our journals to track book sales and other activities related to our businesses.

“I’d love to use a bullet journal, but I’m not an artist,” one author lamented.

That’s a common misconception. You can draw and doodle in your BuJo if you want to, but it’s not a requirement. Feel free to journal in any way you please.

A bullet journal is what you want it to be

Although Ryder Carroll’s website gives you lots of idea of things you can do, nothing is mandatory. I’ve been using a BuJo for years and none of my journals is a work of art. (Far from it.)

Your BuJo isn’t just a calendar or a To Do list. It’s a way of discovering what matters in your life, then working on that.

As Ryder says in his excellent book The Bullet Journal Method: Track Your Past, Order Your Present, Plan Your Future:

The Bullet Journal method will help you accomplish more by working on less. It helps you identify and focus on what is meaningful by stripping away what is meaningless.

That’s the big benefit of using a BuJo: you live your life, without feeling overwhelmed.

Let’s look at some tips for using a BuJo in your self-publishing business.

1. Sell more when you track your book sales in your bullet journal

Your bullet journal helps you to track:

  • Book sales and book marketing activities;
  • Your advertising budget and spend;
  • Productivity: keep track of your word counts.

You can track anything you like; it’s up to you.

2. Develop an idea diary: capture everything

Create a Collection to store your ideas.

When you review your BuJo (I like to review once a week), you can:

  • Weed out any ideas which are no longer relevant;
  • Move applicable ideas to your current novel;
  • Move other ideas to another Collection, such as Future Ideas. I keep my Future Ideas in Evernote because that’s easiest for me.

3. Timeline your novel (you’ll be glad you did)

I keep a timeline for every novel, because whenever I forget to do this, I end up in a mess. It’s challenging to work out timelines later, so I put them in my BuJo, then move them to a spreadsheet at the end of each week.

For example, if I’m working on scene 32 in a novel, I note the time and date in my journal: “32: 9.30PM Wednesday (date)…”

4. Achieve your goals: review each week

Your self-publishing bullet journal helps you to track your publishing goals, and achieve them. I have a “general” publishing goals Collection, which I migrate from notebook to notebook, as notebooks fill up.

In addition, I have novel-specific goals, which I also track in a Collection.

5. What’s next? Track your edits, book covers and publishing schedule

A bullet journal helps you to track the entire publishing process. Try creating a time chart when you plan a new book: add approximate dates for finishing your first draft, revisions, and a publication date.

Once you know when you’ll finish your first draft, you can start organizing your book marketing activities.

Should you keep a separate bullet journal for self-publishing?

I have multiple journals — one for general activities, one for work and another for self-publishing.

However, if you’re just starting out using a BuJo, I suggest that you stick with one journal until you’ve made the process your own. It’s a lot less confusing that way. 🙂


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