Self Publishing Step-by-Step

This is a modified version of a self publishing step-by-step list I put together when some friends and I tried to pull off a micro publishing house a few years back. It assumes you already have a full and beta’d draft.

Specifically for the Book prep section – Marketing, Editing, etc are NOT meant to be done in that order. Like do the Marketing tasks in order, but do Editing tasks in between Marketing tasks and what not. They feed into each other and switching between can help you avoid project burnout.

This is a very long list, and will likely be overwhelming at first glance. Take it slow.

ESPECIALLY for the marketing sections – there are things you can skip or that aren’t as useful until you have several books/short stories out, or that only work for some folks. As always, ‘take what works, leave what doesn’t,’ and don’t be afraid to customize for your needs.

Self Publishing Step-by-Step

  1. Book prep
    1. Marketing –
      1. Determine expected genre(s) and write character descriptions
      2. Develop cover art concepts (multiple if you can)
      3. Rough out your fave cover concepts yourself
      4. Draft description/back blurb
      5. Wait a month or so and review your roughed out cover concepts, pick your favorite
      6. Brainstorm possible titles
      7. Pick 3-5 favorite title possibilities
      8. Do search of title possibilities on:
        1. Google
        2. Big name bookseller
        3. Urban dictionary
      9. Create final cover design
      10. Revise/proofread back blurb and description (If publishing as paperback, make sure description will fit on back of the book. For ebook, you have more space, but don’t overdo it.)
      11. brainstorm keywords
      12. brainstorm content notes
      13. Send eARCs of book to street team/friends&family/patreons/etc and remind them to review the book on Amazon/Goodreads/other when they are done
      14. Put together ‘marketing material’ document
        1. make a doc or spreadsheet or wahtever you prefer
        2. put in it: title, link to website announcement, link to retailer sales page (when it’s up), hashtags, fave quotes from book, quotes from eARC reviews, twitter-length blurb (leave room for the link!), cover description, description of any other images, anything else you might put in a social media post/guest blog post/etc about your book
    2. Editing – give at least 2 weeks between each step
      1. Structural editing
      2. Sensitivity editing – find a good Unhealthy/oppressive tropes list
      3. Line and copy editing
      4. Proofreading
        1. If you don’t have a personal style guide, copy or make one
    3. Book design
      1. Standard copyright page
      2. Author bio
      3. Dedication
      4. Table of contents
      5. Title page
      6. Front/back matter specific to this manuscript
      7. Choose fonts for cover and interior
      8. Add title, byline to final cover design
      9. Format final draft of book, including adding all front/back matter (Smashwords step-by-step guide for formatting is best if you want to really have self-designed interior.)
  2. Publishing
    1. Pick which self pub options you are working with (Amazon and D2D/Smashwords are the big ones. I recommend both, so if one screws you over you have a backup.)
    2. Upload/add finished manuscript, cover, blurb, genre info,keywords, etc per directions
    3. Set scheduled publication date
      1. Some folks will start ‘publishing’ the book first – -you can set a publication date with nothing but a title, and add cover, blurb, manuscript, etc as you finish.
  3. Marketing finished book
    1. If you haven’t already, put together list of favorite lines
    2. If you can, get drawings of main characters
    3. Schedules blog/web page announcement/cover reveal/etc
    4. Write/schedule book announcements for social media
    5. Plan a posting schedule for social media (I post twice a day on Fedi, once on Tumblr, different types of posts each day). Include space for quote from reviews as they come in
    6. Add book to Goodreads, Storygraph, other book/library organizing websites
    7. Keep an eye out for writing hashtags and ‘weekly discussions’ that invite authors to talk about our stuff and participate in a few
    8. If you have prior releases, include reference to prior books in social media posts and maybe do a temporarily drop price on prior books.
    9. Look over the next year and pick times/etailers/etc where you want to run promotions and begin planning for them.
  4. Remind yourself that it typically takes 3-10 releases for an author to build a following
    1. Start writing the next book

Book Design Spreadsheet

The part I struggle with most is keeping track of all the different parts that go into book design. So I put together this spreadsheet to help me keep track.

screenshot of a spreadsheet I use for keeping track of book design stagesContinue to:
Making Self-Promo Work on the #Fediverse
Fiction Prompts
On Queer Fiction

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‘The Good King’ Makes a Good Fantasy
Fantasy World Building: These Ancient Governments Are Bullshit
Where to Buy eBooks (Other Than Amazon)