Terrible word, deadline. Always sounds so final. The word has absolutely horrific origins in the US from the Civil War camp at Andersonville where the dead line was a physical line around the inside of the stockade. The guards had orders to shoot any prisoner crossing that line. The term was later picked up by journalists to denote the line on printing presses beyond which type would not print correctly.
Probably from this printers connection, the term was picked up by journalists in the early 20th century to indicate a time limit, the absolute last moment something could be turned in to make this or that edition, which is how most of us use the term today. As authors, we might have several sorts of deadlines–for submission, for edits, for proofs, even for cover approval.
If you have a publisher, your life is full of deadlines. If you want to keep a good working relationship with these publishers and have them respect you as a professional, you need to make those deadlines.
Ah. I hear you laughing in the background. Angel! I’m self-published! I don’t have any deadlines! Mwahahaha!
True. And not.
As a self-published author, you are your own everything. Scheduling, planning, marketing, that’s all you. You may be a writer, but if you want to keep adding readership, you’ve also decided, willingly or not, to be a business person. It’s all on your shoulders, and there’s even more of a need to be viewed as a professional. There’s no one to catch you if you slip.
Not everyone operates in the same way, of course, but most successful, consistent self-publishers plan their years out carefully. They keep calendars and, yes, they give themselves deadlines.
Self-imposed deadlines are easier to slide around, of course, but you want those deadlines in place so you can build anticipation successfully for your next release and keep to your timetable. It’s not easier than meeting deadlines for a publisher. It’s harder. All on you, babe. You can miss, but readers will start giving you side eyes if you keep pushing back release dates and you risk them drifting away to the next shiny.
It’s not an evil word any longer, but it may be what makes or breaks you.