Use Trello to Publish Books On Time


What is Trello?

Trello is an application used to help streamline project workflow or manage personal tasks with three varying degrees of payment and capability tiers - Free, Business Class, and Enterprise.


Free offers minimal features, but there is no monthly charge or minimum/maximum users.


Business Class is $9.99 per user per month, offering more than double the features of their Free version - most notably, Business gets you access to 250 MB of allowed size per attachment and over a hundred integratable apps.


The Enterprise tier has over 27 features, such as organization-wide restrictions and permissions - a must have when working with editors and publishers. The Enterprise level also has a sliding scale in price depending on user count - starting at $17.50 for a minimum of 20 users per month and up to 5000 users at a discounted rate of $7.38 per user.


In the simplest of terms, Trello is a web-based tool where teams can easily collaborate on projects or an individual author can manage production of their book. It utilizes a list technique, much like whiteboards, to visually show various projects, tasks completed and tasks still needed to be done, who is working on what, etc. Trello is like amped up sticky notes with various features and capabilities.


This application can be used from any networked computer or smartphone, making it portable and accessible at any time through either the web or an app.


Trello uses Kanban Boards. What is That?

A tool used for showing work progress, a Kanban board lays everything out on cards within columns. Each column signifies a different aspect of a project - what is currently in progress, what needs to be done, parts that have been completed, and any other topic a group may need depending on their project. Each card is a designated task or item which can be moved as necessary between columns as a project advances.


There are multiple capabilities a Kanban board can do such as adding comments, documents, and attaching files from other data sources such as Salesforce, DropBox, GoogleDrive, and BitBucket.


As a workflow organization tool, Kanban boards are popular for authors, giving them an easily viewable structure for chapters, plot points, and character arcs that need to be worked on.. For personal projects, Kanban boards can be used for taxes, meal planning, or reading lists amongst a plethora of other things requiring lists.


How to Create a Trello Board

  1. Sign up for your desired level of Trello functionality

  2. Press the plus sign at the top right corner

  3. Select “Create Board”

  4. You will be prompted to name a list - you can have as many or as few lists as you need

  5. Within each list, you can create cards with given tasks and assign them to editors, yourself, etc.

  6. Invite your team by selecting “Invite” - you can use their email address or Trello username if they already have an account.


Individual cards may be selected and broken down to include:


  • Detailed Description

  • Additional Comments

  • Add Members

  • Set Labels

  • Include a Checklist

  • Assign a Due Date

  • Add Attachments

  • See Activity

  • Move, Copy, Subscribe, or Archive the Specific Card


You can also add a personal touch by changing the background of the board by going into Menu, clicking on “Change Background”, and selecting the background of your choice.


What is a Milestone?

Milestones are used as a way to keep tasks on track, motivate and communicate with team members, and show a visible timeline to complete a project. Have you ever missed your upload deadline because your editor kept your manuscript an extra week? Was that her fault or were you partially to blame for not communicating your date? Or are you partially to blame for not making sure your dates were achievable in the first place?


Creating milestones help you gauge when your project is on task, on target, and on schedule and when your schedule is unachievable.


  • When do you need your cover? Set the milestone for completion.

  • When do you need your blurb so you can set up your preorders and landing pages? Set up your milestone.

  • When do you need your edits back? Set up your milestones for book production completion (you writing your book and getting it cleaned up for your editor who isn’t your Dragon Cleaner-Upper) and communicate it.


Milestones break down a large project into smaller segments, making it easier to achieve specific goals in a timely manner while staying on track for completion. By sectioning off different phases, it allows you to better focus and complete designated tasks by due dates.


Milestones can be added during the project planning phase, yet most find it best to add them as a project advances as it’s easier to quickly determine how to proceed with time and resource allocation if a bottleneck occurs.


How to Utilize Milestones and Due Dates in Trello

Due dates come with Trello inside each card. However, milestones are an add-on through Trello via what they call “Power-ups”. Power-ups can be accessed through their website and are free to use.


To use milestones, the user will need to choose a Power-up containing a milestone and add it to their account. From there they will be able to access and use it with any boards created thereafter. The Trello Gantt chart is one that allows you to apply a roadmap to their project, giving it a visual representation of deadlines and where specific tasks and the assigned team members are during development by placing milestone diamonds in designated spots. Visuals help give credibility and something tangible to look at, helping team members to apply necessary steps to achieve reaching the final goal.


To use a Milestone:

  1. Choose an appropriate Power-Up (a Gantt chart Power-Up is recommended)

  2. Begin adding milestones. The method to do this will vary depending on your exact powerup, but it’s usually in a drop-menu either along the top or after a right-click in the main workspace

Using milestones alongside due dates can help maximize workflow by increasing coordination throughout a team to ensure goals are being met, and provide a visual representation of tasks, where they need to be, and the date of a deadline. Due dates are accessed within a card and milestones can be added to run congruent with one another, effectively streamlining the workflow.


For authors, we’d recommend the free version of Trello coupled with a Gantt chart Power-Up. This combo gives you more than enough functionality at no cost.


With Trello, authors have more power than ever when it comes to their workflow. Keeping a book on track is imperative for many reasons. Allowing a project to gather dust can lead to lost points or stale characters. Missing a deadline could mean losing your preorder capabilities. Trello helps you stay on target and knock your next book out of the park.


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