***Checklist development subject to change as the industry changes.
You’ve put your manuscript together, now what? Where do you go from here to publish your book. Here is a fairly comprehensive guide for the self-publisher.o Put together a “street team” of people who will help you with beta reading and word-of-mouth marketing and reviewing. These people do not need to be industry professionals, just good friends and/or business partners with great contacts, who like to read and believe in you and your product. If you’re not already, consider joining organizations both local to national or international for the purpose of growing craft and networking, such as Independent Booksellers Association to Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators or national guilds or genre groups such as Mystery Writers of America.
o Think about a budget. Possible considerations: fees such as editing/formatting/cover design/uploads to publishing platform/marketing materials such as bookmarks or posters or swag/conference or vendor table fees/advertising in media/paid reviews/mailing print copies or purchase of ebooks/travel/bookstore stock fees/returns/contest fees/giveaway copies/website or blog design and upkeep/financial services such as tax advice or preparation/service fees as applicable for financial apps such as Paypal, Square, Venmo, etc./keeping a separate bank account
o Decide what versions of book to produce; ie, ebook, hardcover, paperback, audio single reader, group performed audio; also, ebook versions that can be used on library lending sites such as Libby.
o Decide which publishing platform/distribution service to use.
o Please note – you can publish the same book with only one publisher. Each ISBN is unique, and you can’t have the same title with more than one ISBN. While you no longer need to purchase your own for most standard DIY platforms, each one requires a unique ISBN. If you choose a platform like KDP – Kindle Direct (Amazon), your book will be available on Amazon. Same for Nook Books (Barnes and Noble). If you choose a platform such as Lulu (now owned by Amazon), Bookbaby, Ingram Spark, or Lightning Source (which are the main distributors to other sales sites), they will make your book available on all the other platforms combined: Amazon, BN, Kobo, iBooks, Walmart, Booksamillion, etc. The catch is that Ingram and LS will charge a small fee for this service. Lulu (now owned by Amazon) gets their money not by charging up front but by making print book costs high to produce, and Bookbaby has you purchase a number of copies. There are other platforms you can research, including local printers and services, but be wary of hidden fees or limited distribution.
o Accounts on publisher platform. Each publishing platform requires that you establish an account with your legal name and personal financial information including a tie to a bank account so they can direct deposit royalties. I recommend opening and maintaining a small bank account separately for this purpose.
o Business Paperwork – any legal forms such as W9 info for records; registering with the government for a FEIN if you choose, registering as an LLC or SCorp for tax purposes or potential liability issues; possible licensing if you work from home and use your residence as a business (check local ordinances) which may require special insurance. Once you reach a certain income threshold, you may be required to pay estimated quarterly income taxes. Check with the IRS self-employment regulations.
o ISBNs assigned and registered – you can either purchase your own in blocks from Bowker – this is the only legal place to buy them – and register them as you use them (this makes you and your imprint the owner); or you can use the assigned ISBNs from your publishing platform of choice. These ISBNs are registered to the platform owner, and while you own your own copyright, you cannot own these ISBNs, and if you choose to leave the publisher, you must use a different ISBN if you choose to publish the book elsewhere. Each version of the book must have its own unique ISBN; for platforms such as KDP or Nook, ebooks do not need an ISBN since the material is sold only on their own platform.
o Begin to put together supporting material, such as back cover blurb; SEO words/terms/phrases; your genre and niche within that genre, which you will be asked to choose from drop-down lists when you establish your book account and prepare it for publication on your chosen platform. You will want to put some social media tweets and blurbs together, your bio in different lengths, a good tag line for your book, and some Q&A – interview yourself or ask someone to provide some interview questions for you to answer. Other interesting material to gather is your motivation for writing the book, any imagery that supports your material, fun or sobering facts that relate to your material; bibliographical resources or other outside resources.
o Library of Congress preassigned control number application https://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/
o Any foreword or afterword material assigned and follow-up. Please note that the author does not write a foreword – it is written by a person familiar with the subject of the book
o Editing phase 1 – large, substantive edit with a professional
o Editing phase 2 – sometimes call copy or line edit to look for punctuation and grammatical problems. Can be with different editors.
o Obtain potential copyright permissions or licensing applied for if using third-party material such as images or quotes
o Any endorsements requested and assigned and follow-up
o Proofreading. Out loud. Several people can do this.
o Interior layout. Hire out or use platform template if you have computer skills.
o Early promotion on marketing sites and affiliates - talk up and get your team to talk about the book
o Cover design – make sure designer can create cover for the chosen platform. Some platforms have specific templates to use that are based on the interior design and number of pages.
o Data block and copyright page finalized
o Author promotional material finalized and ordered. Many publishers release print/hardcover/ebook and/or audio books in stages - ie, hardcover first, paperback six months later, or ebook first, etc. Option - all versions can come out together. The advantage is only in sales of more expensive hardcovers and greater return on investment.
o After your manuscript is proofread, proofed once, twice, and again, upload to your platform of choice. Order proof copies and proofread again.
o Review copies sent out and follow-up – have someone who is a good reader and notices missing periods or quotation marks read it again. Mail or email review copies to many people, and/or use a service such as NetGalley or Bookfunnel to send out copies and handle requests. Both of these services are fee-based.
o Audio recording if chosen. There are several sites that offer this service.
o Pre-release promotions such as Taped author interviews/Taped promotions/Prepromotion ads/Contest research (see end point below for sites)
o Promotional print material ordered and sent out
o Media and sales lists established, request interviews – make lists of all radio stations, newspapers, magazines, book stores, libraries, anyone who may be interested in hosting you for a discussion or reading and/or sales opportunity. If you don’t speak, find someone who is good at it and prepare a combined effort.
o Publication – final upload if necessary after proofreading; otherwise allow books to be released to online sales venues. Order your sales copies.
o Giveaways are part of your promotion – offer copies to more reviewers and promoters; if you got a Library of Congress registration number, mail your copy to the LOC
o Launch parties – don’t plan too close to ordering material date or you may be stuck if your copies don’t arrive in time.
o Promotional tours and signings with libraries/book stores/venues relating to material/private house parties or civic groups, etc.
o Contests – check several sites for qualifying entries. Below are three. Don’t forget local groups or conference recognition.
Updated April 2023
Lisa Lickel Publishing/Fox Ridge Publications
Lisa Lickel Publishing/Fox Ridge Publications