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Self-Publishing: An Insanely Long Checklist

Self-publishing is no longer a one-and-done endeavor. Authors who self-publish are, also, getting picked up by more traditional presses and some traditionally published authors are foraying over to the self-publishing world. However your writing career progresses, you want to know the process and finish with a professional book. Here is a list of to-dos to accomplish just that, with a list of sample prices. All these tips come from my personal experience with my own debut book, The Strangeness of Men.

Research the pros and cons of self-publishing. (Congratulations! You are already here exploring that.) Are you someone who can learn the process and manage to self-pub on your own? Is your writing ready? Has your work been validated by others in the field, like – critique groups, author mentors, creative writing teachers, editors at journals?

Tips & Timeline

  • Allow at least 6 months.

  • Research examples of how to self-publish and tips online and from mentors.

  • You should have already done the writing and edited, edited, edited.

  • Trusted others should have already read and suggested edits (above validation).

  • Decide which pieces (if collection) to include and in which order.

  • Give it a title.

  • Pick beta readers and send manuscript with deadline (3 weeks) for feedback – ask questions for them to look for while reading…like consistency, anything that takes them out of the story etc. You want to know how it affects readers rather than proofreading. Follow up with them; take them to coffee or lunch during this time if they live close by.

  • Ask for reviews (back cover blurbs and/or praise for inside pages) from journals that have already published a piece in your collection, fellow writers, etc. Give them a deadline for feedback. Remember both Betas and reviewers are giving their time for free and be gracious!

  • Apply for an LLC and get a separate business banking account – protects your personal money in the unlikely event you get sued and it helps with taxes. Allow 4-6 weeks. You’ll get assigned an EIN Employer Identification Number through IRS.

  • Create your business name and have a designer create a logo.

  • Decide which beta reader comments to incorporate into your edits.

  • Research and hire a professional editor, formatter, and cover artist. {A Good Cover Designer is So (Not) Hard to Find, Nov 2015,} Ask potential editors for a sample edit of a few pages. Look at cover artist work. Know their available start dates and timeframe. Are you comfortable with the means/quality of communication?

  • Have a marketing plan that includes social media: twitter, author website, newsletter, blog tours, library events, promo material, FB ads, Good Reads giveaways.

  • Get a professional photo taken for the book jacket and Amazon author page.

  • Write your bio and the book summary for back cover.

  • Examine published books in your genre – notice all the items on the cover, spine, back cover, front pages, top/bottom of pages, etc.

  • Buy ISBNs. You need a different ISBN for each format – print, ePub, Mobi; ISBN 1 =$125, 10=$250, 100=$575

  • Register your ISBNs for your book in each specific format.

  • Buy PO Box as your LLC address for copyright page.

  • Get a preassigned LCCN for copyright page. List as Library of Congress Control Number: 10 digit #. Send a copy of your book to the Library of Congress.

  • Write your copyright page.

  • Research list prices in genre. Choose your price for bar code/back cover on print. Choose your electronic price. Decide if price will be inserted into bar code and either create it or ask your cover artist to create it.

  • Decide on line edits from editor.

  • Decide on formatting, font, paper color (white or cream), how each chapter starts (ex. large first letter), spacing, and trim size of physical book (ex. 5.25 x 8).

  • Proofread after back from editor with changes.

  • Proofread each format.

  • Apply for copyright.

  • Distribute through channels (set up accounts and upload final copy of book – do not publish to public until finalize physical proof of book): Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon electronic -Mobi format), CreateSpace (Amazon print) and IngramSpark (print), Smashwords (electronic – epub format).

  • Decide which categories in Kindle to list it under.

  • Obtain an Amazon ASIN #.

  • Order a physical proof and check it (from both CreateSpace and IngramSpark).

  • Send beta readers an Amazon gift card (ask them to buy kdp version and give star ratings and review with extra $ for a gift of other book of their choice), a physical copy of your signed book, and a thank you card.

  • Submit finished book for awards – IPPY, USA Best Book Awards.

  • Link the print version (CreateSpace) to Kindle on Amazon.

Some example costs:

(based on 32k word manuscript mid-priced shop)

  • copyediting - $480

  • cover design 599 (same shop now $699)

  • formatting 300

  • wix website 100

  • domain name (buy it) 35

  • office printer 200

  • LLC 340

  • PO Box year 40

  • Bowker ISBN block 10 250

  • ink printer 100

  • copyright 55

  • Ingramspark set up fee 50

  • create space proof 25

  • Ingram Spark proof 25

  • Promo bookmarks 60

  • USA Books contest fee 70

  • more proofs 25

  • Beta reader gift cards 110

  • Beta reader copies mailed, lunch etc. 90

  • IPPY contest fee 75

  • Ads 155

  • GoodReads giveaway mailing 55

  • USA Book Award stickers 55

  • $3,294

Good luck on your self-publishing journey! It’s kind of like giving birth. It’s arduous and makes you crave drugs, but once it’s over - you forget about the pain and are willing to do it all over again.

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