Set a publishing deadlineMore book projects die of old age than any other cause. Without a clear publishing date in mind, book projects sometimes slide on and on and on into oblivion. The initial planners grow old, die off, move, lose interest. People develop other projects. The initial incentive becomes lost, the enthusiasm wanes, and the original large group of feverish volunteers dwindles to a desperate few.
Sometimes publishing dates are pre-determined. If you are preparing a book to celebrate the 100th anniversary of your town's founding, you will want the book to be published on or before the anniversary year. Just make sure you have enough time to pull a project together before that date. Most good book projects can take at least three years from conception to publication.
Or you can arbitrarily set your own publication date and stick to it. Either way, from the beginning, you should determine approximately when you want to publish, and work backwards from there to set up a production and publishing schedule. If there isn't enough time, extend your publication date, or adopt a different book style to accommodate a tight schedule. Your timeline should include six months for pre-press production and printing. This includes everything from layout and design, through proof-reading and page production to final approvals. This is a back-and-forth process involving you and the printer, and can take more weeks than you might imagine.
If you sail through in less than six months, that's a bonus. But you won't want to be cutting corners just to meet an impossible deadline.
Of course, if your book is going to be an epic tome researched from the beginning, you may want to allot more than three years. Just don't forget that volunteer interest is finite.
Photo: Winter storage vault at cemetery on Amherst Island. Orland French photo