Are you an aspiring author who has decided to take the self-publishing route? If the answer is yes, you are very likely drowning in a sea of confusion as you attempt to learn how to self-publish your book. For a first-time author, it is definitely not easy to navigate the ins and outs of the self-publishing process, which is where this handy self-publishing checklist comes in. In this article, we break it all down for you, from start to finish.
Self-Publishing Checklist for Aspiring Authors
Whether you are working on a thriller, romance novel, children’s book, or self-help book, this checklist will serve you well. Regardless of genre, the steps detailed in this self-publishing checklist are relevant to the task of getting your book published.
Preparing Your Manuscript
Wouldn’t it be great if we authors could just dive in, type our stories, and then upload them to a self-publishing website? Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that — not if you want to publish a truly remarkable book, that is. The pre-publication process involves a lot of planning and hard work by you and the editing professionals who will be assisting you in the publishing process.
- Writing and Editing Your Book. When you come up with a great idea for a story, the first steps of the writing process are critical. Start by fleshing out a detailed book outline, develop your characters and story arc, and then put yourself on a writing schedule. If you get stuck early on, a developmental edit can be very helpful. Once you get your first draft cleaned up and self-edited, head to a professional editor for copy editing and proofreading.
- Formatting Your Book. When you self-publish, the formatting step is the author’s responsibility. With the help of online formatting resources and a little patience, you can probably manage this step on your own. However, not all writers are comfortable formatting a book for publishing, so thankfully there are book-formatting experts who can take this step off your shoulders.
- Designing a Book Cover. Creating an appealing book cover is a critical piece in the marketing of your self-published book. It is an absolute truth that consumers will judge your book by its cover, and then decide whether or not to purchase it. Keep your genre in mind when designing your cover, and don’t be shy about looking for inspiration at the local bookstore. Not particularly artistic? No worries, just reach out to a professional cover designer to design a captivating cover for your book.
- Getting Professional Feedback. No matter how amazing you believe your book is, be sure to seek out some feedback before taking it to print. We writers can become so wed to our book that we may be blind to our own shortcomings. Enlist a few beta readers to offer honest feedback, or hire a professional editor who can point out any areas that might be improved upon.
Choosing a Self-Publishing Partner
As you near the completion of your book project, it is time to select a self-publishing partner. With so many to choose from, it is important to know what features to look for.
- Factors to Consider. As you begin the process of researching potential self-publishing partners, here are some factors to help guide your decision:
- Costs. Learn about the royalty payment structure, as royalties do vary among self-publishers. Also, look at the printing costs, which can impact your retail pricing and your book’s profitability.
- Range of services. The services offered will vary among publishers. Some self-publishers offer a full range of services, including various forms of editing, proofreading, formatting, cover design, and book distribution.
- Reviews/testimonials. Be sure to read the reviews and testimonials that authors leave regarding their experience with the self-publisher. This can help you avoid choosing one that is subpar.
- Timeline. Learn about the publishing timeline, from editing to formatting to publication, as these may vary among self-publishers.
Marketing and Promotion
Where the author taking the traditional publishing route won’t be tasked with promoting their book, a self-published author must market their book themselves. Here are some tips for marketing your book:
- Build an Author Platform. Social media offers rich soil for growing an author platform, and Facebook is an excellent place to start. On Facebook, you can create an author page where you can start posting regularly. Over time, you’ll begin to accumulate a following. Other social media platforms to consider are Tik Tok, Instagram, and Goodreads.
- Create an Author Website. You can build an author website on Wix, Go Daddy, or WordPress using one of their templates. Add a blog to the website so you can write blogs that pertain to your writing, or to the subject matter in the book. Share the blogs on your social media author platform to increase interest in your book.
- Plan Book Launches and Events. Prior to the publication of your book, make a game plan for how you will promote it. These events can give your book a strong launch, which can help your standing in search rankings. Consider planning a book signing, a book launch party, and a giveaway, and share all these on your social media platforms. Also, try reaching out to book influencers on Instagram who might be willing to mention your book on their social feeds.
Legal and Financial Considerations
The beauty of self-publishing is that you have complete ownership of your book in all forms, including eBook, print, audio, and foreign language versions. Even so, there are steps you can take to add some additional protections.
- Copyright Protection. Although all literary works are automatically protected under intellectual property laws, it is still wise to register a copyright anyway. With a copyright, you can pursue legal action against anyone that ever does attempt to infringe on your work.
- ISBN and Barcode Registration. That lined barcode with a thirteen-digit number you see on the back of a book refers to the International Standard Book Number, or the ISBN. This code is required for selling books online and at bookstores and can be purchased online.
- Setting the Book’s Price. One of the trickiest, and most critical decisions to make is setting your book’s retail price. The retail price determines your book’s profitability and is based on the printing costs, the genre, and the length of the book.
Once your book is published, you may be tempted to sit back and rest on your laurels. Resist this temptation! Your book is a product and as its author, you are basically running a business.
- Monitor Sales and Royalties. Keep tabs on your sales, as they reveal patterns, such as certain days of the week that you sell more books, for instance. With this information, you can better time your Facebook ads for maximum return on investment. Also, keep track of your book royalties as well as any marketing expenses to determine your profits.
- Keep Your Book in Print. With print-on-demand publishing, your book is printed only when a customer orders it. To avoid falling into the abyss on Amazon and to keep the momentum going, you must continue to market your book. This keeps the book searchable and in print. Other tactics that can help boost sales are to tweak your keywords in the metadata or to experiment with some other BISAC browse categories.
- Build Your Author Brand. After your book is published, don’t stop tending to your social media and author website. On the contrary, you should continue cultivating your author brand, as those efforts keep your name and your book in the public consciousness, and results in book sales. Also, by continuing to build your author brand you position yourself nicely for launching your next book.
Work with Gatekeeper Press to Self-Publish Your Book
Working with the right publishing partner is intrinsic to your eventual success as an author. Gatekeeper Press is a trusted leader in the self-publishing space, offering a full spectrum of editing, design, and distribution services. Call us today or contact us online