Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Self-Publishing To-Do List

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! The writing career series has come to a close and is now available as Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and Createspace. Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, also available in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and Createspace.

Creating a To-Do List can simplify the self-publishing process and keep the author on track—and writing. Having all the necessary tasks compiled on a list also helps her see the light at the end of the tunnel, giving a sense of accomplishment each time an item is checked off.

The first step in any publishing path is to finish the book. It’s the single most important part of the process. Without it, the path doesn’t exist in any form.

The second most important step is making sure the finished book is well edited. Most authors can’t edit their own work. They know the manuscript too well to catch minor mistakes like missing words and typos. A professional editor is the first choice, but they can be expensive and the really good ones often have a waiting list. Research any freelance editor before using his/her services. Anyone can claim the job title, whether she has training and experience or not. Excellent critique partners and beta readers can also provide great feedback to help create the best possible product. However, realize that one person isn’t going to see every little error. Multiple sets of eyes are a necessity.

The book is finished and edited. What comes next?

While the book is in the editing process, a number of tasks can be completed. Create or purchase cover art, purchase ISBNs, and create front and back matter to prepare for formatting the book and publishing at retail outlets. Write taglines and blurbs, plan a marketing and promotion strategy, create a metadata list, and update social media to prepare for marketing and promotion.

Formatting has somewhat of a learning curve. Different retailers have different formatting guidelines. Always check the retailer’s website for the most current guidelines and practice to become familiar with the way page breaks, section breaks, and odd/even headers work.

Once the book has been formatted and published to the retailers’ sites, buy links can be added to websites, blogs, and other social media. The author also needs to decide if she’s going to register the copyright and complete the necessary paperwork.

The process isn’t over yet!

Next up is marketing and promotion. Spread the word about the new release—without breaking social media etiquette rules.

Self-publishing is hard work when it’s done correctly.

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book.
2) Polish and edit the book.
3) Write taglines and blurbs.
4) Create or purchase cover art.
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book).
6) Create front and back matter.
7) Format for e-book and/or print.
8) Update website, blog, and social media.
9) Create metadata list.
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Writing books comes first and last, making it an ongoing and vital part of the process. Never forget that the next book helps keep the author's name in a position of discoverability.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. I've been using an extensive, multi-page checklist for my self-published works, and with every book I publish, I add a little more to it, including notes about the different formats each retailer requires and groups and places where I can promote the book after it's published. Other topics on my checklist include front matter, back matter, pre-formatting, formatting, file conversion, post formatting, assigning ISBNs, and registering the copyright. I completely agree that having a to-do list up front is critical. Having one saves me an enormous amount of toe time. There's just too much to try and remember it all.

    1. Exactly! Once you have a basic to-do list, you can add details to make the process quicker and easier next time. Each book presents different challenges and problems, and keeping track of the solutions saves time if the situation happens again.

      Thanks for stopping by, Donya! :)