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The Ultimate Self-Publishing Checklist: How and Where to Self-Publish Your Book

A lot of authors lament about how challenging it was for them to find a publisher that was willing to work with them, especially in their early days as new writers when no one knew their name.

While self-publishing may not be the right fit for everyone, it does make it much easier to get your book out there and create some awareness for your name as an author.

Going the route of self-publishing your book is a really good option for indie writers who are possibly crowd-funding to get their book done and have the time and motivation to dedicate to marketing their book before, during, and after it launches.

There is a lot of information out there when it comes to self-publishing, Kindle publishing, and the general book publishing process. That’s why we have compiled the ultimate self-publishing checklist to help you navigate the process to successfully launch your book!

You may feel like self-publishing is too much work or an unattainable goal, but I assure you that after reading through the simple checklist, you will be feeling (much more) confident and ready to share your bestseller with the world!

Creating Your Manuscript

This first section is the most challenging, yet rewarding, part of the process for many writers. It involves a lot of organization, planning, and perseverance to get through the first few stages of writing and revising a manuscript.

What Goes Into the First Copy?

The first thing in our self-publishing checklist you want to focus on is the planning of your manuscript.

You want to map out the specifics of your book, what you are hoping to achieve, and the message you want to send to your ideal reader. It is highly advised that you go through this whole process with that “ideal reader” in mind.

Once you determine what kind of book you’d like to write, brainstorm the content you want to include and all the other important details. Then you can sit down and begin writing your first draft.

For some, the ideas may flow freely and the outline seemingly leaks from your mind onto the paper (or screen) in front of you; however, when it comes time to flesh out your amazing ideas into a fully formed book, you find yourself stuck.

This initial hurdle stops many great creatives in their tracks, but not you!

There are services available to help you turn the ideas and concepts you have laid out in your outline into a cohesive story. Consider using a qualified ghostwriter if you find yourself in this camp!

Of course, there are also those who encounter no real issues getting their thoughts out and that first draft is done before you know it.

Now it is time to conduct the initial reading and first editing process. This can be a nerve wracking step for many; after all, it is the first time anyone else may read your manuscript, but it is crucial to seek out the services of a paid content editor to provide you with feedback and advice regarding your first draft.

Using the valuable input from your editor, get to work on your first revision and take the changes they suggested into account. Once this is complete, enlist some trusted friends and/or beta readers to conduct a read through and get a sample of how your book is received by an average reader.

With this added layer of (hopefully) honest and unbiased feedback, finalize a second rewrite (a third copy) of your manuscript.

Once again, have a professional copy editor (or proofreader) polish your newest version and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. From basic grammar to consistent tone, this is where you want to eliminate any errors to avoid negative reviews from readers with an especially keen eye.

Producing the Final Copy

Once you have taken care of the initial planning, drafting, and editing and obtained some feedback from a variety of test readers, you can work on the preparation of your final copy of your manuscript!

This is the stage where you focus on the details that will make your book succeed once it hits the market. These little details aren’t necessarily part of the creative writing process, but they can have a lot of impact on whether or not your book sells.

Self publishing

Getting the Details in Order

You need to make some formatting decisions now to ensure your book is easy-to-read and aesthetically pleasing for your readers. You don’t want to use too-small of a print size, strange font coloring, or a font type that looks jumbled or unprofessional.

Keep your target audience in mind here, as well as how you want to release your book. You need to format your book to suit the medium, whether that is an ebook or a printed physical copy (or both!). Fortunately, if you choose to use a ghostwriter, they will typically take care of the formatting for you.

Depending on where you decide to self-publish your book, you may need to obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for any physical copies you sell. This is a step you don’t want to skip as it does make your book easier to find for your readers.

Ensure You Have a Killer Book Cover

Finally, when you are making the final decisions about your book, like where to publish it, how to format it, and how to appeal to your target audience, you cannot forget to address your book’s cover.

There are not too many writers who also create their own book covers. That is not to say you can’t, just that not many people are entirely confident in their artistic abilities to design an effective book cover.

As with most other steps in the book publishing process, there is help available to ensure your cover art is of the highest quality and that it helps boost your book sales.

Despite the old adage that we are all familiar with, people definitely do judge a book by it’s cover. It is honestly one of the first ways a potential reader will gauge their interest in a particular book.

Don’t skimp on the details for your final copy. This is what you are going to present to your readers and you want to provide them with the best work possible. These same readers may be the ones who buy your next book, and every one that follows.

It may be tempting to cut corners on this process and try to edit and format things yourself; you’ve already done two previous drafts anyway, right? There are editors and designers who are experts in their field to make sure you get exactly what you want, so take advantage of their services!

Preparing to Launch and Hitting the Ground Running

Taking a few extra steps to prepare yourself for the launch of your new book will help lay the groundwork for the big day and, at the very least, spread out the stress and anxious nerves a little bit.

Getting Ready

Build your launch strategy, make a guide for what you want to focus on, and save yourself time when the big day comes and you are in the midst of actively launching your new book.

It’s already stressful enough as it is without the added pressure of having to figure out what you need to do next on the spot. Do yourself a favor and get organized ahead of launch day so you are ready to take on any unforeseen issues that may arise.

It is essential to create a content marketing plan for your book launch. You can do this by lining up some search engine optimized (SEO) blog content that is related to your book.

If you don’t have the time or know-how to create these blog articles yourself, you can once again provide an outline to a top-tier ghostwriter and have them create some fine-tuned, highly effective blog posts for you to generate interest and gain awareness ahead of your book's release.

Take advantage of the free digital advertising market by creating some video marketing/advertising content. You can post videos to various social media sites, reach out to partner with larger influencers who may be willing to promote your book in exchange for a promo code their followers can use.

Overall, you want to utilize social media to your benefit. Create and share images that promote your book to help reach your target audience. Content creation is crucial for anyone operating a business online, which includes self-publishing a book.

With the marketing aspect out of the way, you are finally ready to officially launch your book!

You will have ideally built up a reserve of related and promotional content to use to get the word out about your book’s launch. Now is the time to release it, but do so steadily in the day, weeks, and months following your official launch to keep traffic coming to your book’s listing.

Be ready to do whatever marketing you can to create some buzz about your book online and keep it going beyond your initial launch.

KDP Overview Checklist

The final step in your self-publishing journey will be to determine where you will actually launch your book.

Despite being the final checklist item in our article, it is important to find the right self-publishing platform to fit your needs and the target audience for your book.

copy editing

Kindle Direct Publishing Checklist: Is KDP Right for You?

While there are a variety of platforms you can use to self-publish your book, KDP is one of the most popular among indie authors. With a list of benefits and features available to users, it’s not hard to see why so many are choosing to go with KDP.

Here is a quick Kindle publishing checklist to help you determine if it may be the right fit for you. Some of the features and benefits you can expect if you decide to use their service are:

  • It is free to self-publish; however, a portion of your book’s sales go to KDP for their services of offering access to their streamlined platform.
  • The “Kindle Create” tool can help with formatting if you are working on your book on your own; however, if you are working with a ghostwriting service, they will likely take care of that for you as part of their service package.
  • Once you have formatted your book and are ready to publish, the book listing goes up quickly and you can start selling your book. You can also take advantage of 1-click paperback creation if you are offering both ebook and paperback options.
  • KDP will provide you with an ISBN for any paperbacks you list on their platform and utilize an ASBN (Amazon Standard Book Number) for the ebooks you self-publish with them.
  • It offers an attractive payment model, especially for independent authors who are self-publishing. Royalties are paid out monthly and you earn between 35% to 70% on book sales, with a 60% fixed royalty on all paperback copies sold.
  • Global pricing and ability to reach markets across the world with your book within a matter of one to two days. It is an amazingly fast, user-friendly book publishing system.
  • You get to retain 100% control over your book, its contents, and the pricing you set for your book.

You may also want to take advantage of the KDP Select service. which is how you will receive royalty percentages closer to the 70% previously mentioned, as well as some additional benefits:

  • Income based on a percentage of the amount Amazon Prime members are paying to access your content through Amazon’s lending library.
  • The option to list your book for free (or at a discounted rate) for a set promotional period.

This increases traffic to your book’s listing and lists your book on Amazon’s sale page, which may expose your book to readers who are looking for a good deal and, thus, may not have otherwise come across your listing.

Book Publishing Process: In Summary

While it is a huge undertaking to self-publish your book, the payoff at the end of the process is well worth everything you put in to making your book launch a success!

If you want to retain control over what happens with your book, stay informed every step of the way and be involved in the big decisions that effectively determine what the final result will be and whether self-publishing may be the right fit for you.

Publishing giants can be great in some situations, but they can also make changes to your book that completely deviate from your vision and message you intended for your target readers. Most creatives will agree that their work and their vision is like their baby.

Don’t feel the need to hand over your ideas to a publishing company that may not share the same enthusiasm or be as invested in your project as you are yourself.

With some hard work, determination, and the help of a few professionals along the way, you can absolutely self-publish your book and rest assured it is exactly what you wanted it to be!

Get your takeaway! Download our self publishing checklist right now.