Every metaphor I have right now is related to running. I’ve been training for a half-marathon for a couple months now. Truly, publishing is like running a marathon.

Writing a book is like deciding to run the marathon. You plan, strategize, and then decide you’re going to do it.

You begin the mostly solo process of getting your book together. In this, you enlist the advice of experts in publishing, you build your publishing plan, and you decide what you want your book to accomplish. You have an outline of your training schedule, now it’s time to put that plan into action.


Sending your book out to an editor or proofer is like your first 5k. This is your first opportunity to get another human involved in your process. While previously, writing has been a largely solo endeavor, now you have someone else’s eyes on your work.

Your next opportunity for outside involvement is getting advanced reviewers. This is like your 10k. You’re building some confidence and traction.

In the meantime, you have a lot of solo training to do: time to format the book and design the cover. Whether you do this yourself or hire outside help, you’ll need to be involved in this process. This is the behind-the-scenes training that every runner does.

Next is the half-marathon. This is your book’s soft launch. You’re building momentum for a big marketing push. You’re generating reviews and gathering publishing partners.


More solo work to do. If you plan on continuing to the marathon, you have some new steps to take. You’ll need to reach out for more information on how to take this next step. If your “marathon” is to become a bestselling author, you must now think about strategic partnerships, list building, and increasing your platform. As an author, this step can and should be performed on an ongoing basis, especially if you hope to compete at a marathon level.

Finally, the day of the marathon. If you’ve performed every step, there’s a good chance you’ll finish. If you’ve performed every step better than everyone else, you might have a chance of finishing first.

Many authors never intend to get to the marathon level, and that’s ok. They’re perfectly happy staying in the 5K zone. However, if you plan on going to the marathon level, you’ll need to take HUGE steps outside your comfort zone. You need to set yourself up for success by understanding that building your platform is just as important as the content and packaging of your book. The largely introverted process of writing the book will need to make way for a more extroverted process of promoting the book.

Marathon running is a different mindset than sprints or interval training. It’s prolonged activity, dogged perseverance, and sometimes just a touch of insanity. You’ll need to adopt the same mentality to take your book to the marathon level. Just do it. ; )


5 thoughts on “Publishing is Like Running a Marathon

  • March 23, 2015 at 9:16 am

    HUGE steps outside the comfort zone is the biggest challenge. Knowing what to do is much easier than knowing how to do it. But as always your articles help. Thanks for sharing.

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  • March 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Totally agree! Im on a 8 year running streak and EVERYTHING aligns with marathon training metaphors!! And now, I think I’m like Forrest Gump. I’m in the middle of the desert and just decided to stop running. I’m wondering why all these people are running behind me?

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