Newbie author self-publishing checklist

This is the third post in my educational series, Self-Publishing 101. Perhaps one of the most overwhelming issues in publishing a book is where to start. Most don’t know what questions to ask because they don’t know enough to ask. Hopefully my lessons will help you find your way.

And please if you have any questions, you’re welcome to leave a comment.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I believe Joanna Penn, a highly successful self-published author, has the perfect recipe for a successful writing career. Each book you write, publish and market, will offer a new set of lessons, and one of the things Joanna stresses is sharing your knowledge with others. You can find Joanna’s links in my Self-Publishing 101 Links lesson.

One of Joanna’s helpful posts was a self-publishing checklist for new authors. I believe this is a good place to start as our brains seem to comprehend lists better than standard paragraphs. I’ve taken some of her suggestions and modified them for print books plus added my own suggestions.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with flowcharts. That would be the perfect format for a newbie author in learning how to write and publish a book. There are many twist and turns depending on the phase of the book and the format such as with or without photos, print, ebook or both. The list below tries to use the same flow chart concept, give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

1. Determine your style of book: fiction or non-fiction.

2. Finalize the genre.

3. Print or ebook, or both.

4. Once the title is finalized, apply for an ISBN number (if you use Amazon CreateSpace, or many of the printer services, they will do it for you). But there is only once source that provides the ISBN number and that is Bowker. You will also need a bar code and Bowker does that as well.

5. Schedule time for a graphic designer for your cover (they book up fast, so just block some time). As a side note, if you use Amazon CreateSpace or other all-in-one publishing services, this graphic design is included or provided with an additional fee.

5. Not a bad idea to schedule time for editors as well, or anyone that needs to work/read/review/format/print your book when finished. Let them know you are working on a book and an estimated finish date. Then keep in touch as you go along. I’m learning that now working on my third and fourth book. Especially if the estimated published date is going to be in the last quarter. September and October is a very busy time for designer and editors.

6. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to begin scheduling your book signings and speaking presentations now as well. I’ve learned from the past that many places book up to six months ahead of time, and some authors book them way in advance before they even have their title.

7. When you have finalized the scope of the book, give the info to your graphic designer so they can begin formulating some book cover proofs. You don’t want the book to be finished and edited then wait a month for the book cover design. This can be done while your writing the book. I wrote a draft of my book description and sent some photos I liked to my designer so she could be working on it while I finished the book. It’s important they understand the scope and backdrop of the book as they base everything from fonts to color on your book content.

8. Finalize a rough draft of the book.

9. Send to editors, beta readers (friends, family or people who like to critique books).

10. Make their suggested changes and finalize the manuscript. Again give yourself time as there will be many edits and rewrites.

11. Write the following pages: copyright, acknowledgement, introduction, author page, bibliography if needed (usually non-fiction), appendix if the book contains verbiage that needs defining (mainly non-fiction). In re to the copyright page, it’s okay to use copyright pages from other books as a guide, or I’m sure there’s something online.

12. Make sure the author page has all your marketing (Call to Action) info: email, website, social media, signup link for your newsletter. Write the back book blurb or promo used for the cover jacket if it’s a hard back book.

13. Now send the completed manuscript to what’s called a proof-reader for typos and syntax (punctuation).

14. Do the edits from the proof reader. Read the entire book out loud several times.

15. After you have completed all the edits, it’s time to hand over the final copy to your graphic designer for complete book/font/cover design (used for print and ebook, be sure to get the file when finished in both pdf and jpeg. Some printers may even want CMYK). Remember if you are using Amazon CreateSpace or other printing services, graphic design is available.

16. You will need a website under your name to sell and promote your book as well as your blog. The website should be self-hosted and under your name. is fairly easy to learn and one of the most commonly used.

17. Okay, now your book is finished, and you are ready to send to your printer or ebook formatter. I highly reccommend my contacts for both quality and price if you are doing everything separately. Their contact info is listed on my Self Publishing 101 Links.

18. I’ll be doing another post on all the products and services Amazon provides for the self-publishing author. Again, another decision box for that virtual flow chart. If you want to do both print and ebook, Amazon CreateSpace can do that for you. They are not the publisher, just a service that prints and/or promotes your book. There’s actually a menu of services. You have the option of print on demand for buyers, the option to buy your own books that you can use at book signings or speaking presentations, and also a calculation that will tell you your royalty payments on both print and ebook.

19. You will need to set up an Amazon author account and read several of their tutorials. And then there’s Goodreads. I’ll go into the different marketing programs and options in another post as it will only clutter this post for now.

20. Lulu is another printing/ebook program, along with many others. There are also online posts from people who compare the pros and cons from both Amazon and Lulu. Smashwords is another program that can publish and distribute your ebook to multiple outlets. You can click on the link for more details.

That’s it for another lesson for self-publishing newbie authors. Would love to hear some input. If you have any suggestions or questions please add your comments below.

Happy Writing…