Considering Self-Publishing? The Indie Checklist

One day, a few years back, I decided to write a book. When (I thought) it was finished, I went through all the motions of submitting said book to agents and publishers. After another year, a few requests for partials and one full, I had gotten absolutely nowhere.

I’d heard about the self-publishing movement, but I was hesitant for so many reasons I won’t bore you with here. I decided to look into it, and I came to the conclusion that I would give it a shot. What did I have to lose?

I did lots of things the hard way, but I also did some things right (I think). If you’re a writer and you’re thinking about embarking on your own self-publishing journey, I hope this list helps. It’s by no means exhaustive, but I think it’s a good starting point.

  1. Write a book – Pretty obvious, I know, but you can’t publish something that isn’t finished.
  2. Get onto social media – Facebook, twitter and Goodreads are in my opinion the main three networks you need to build. You’ll have more chance of getting your book in front of potential readers if you have a strong following before you hit that publish button.
  3. Set up a website or blog – Your followers will want to read about what you have to say, and if they don’t you have to make them want to read it. Post teasers, talk about your pets, or what book you’re reading, it doesn’t matter, the key is to engage people so they become interested in you, and will want to buy your book when it comes out.
  4. Find some good (great, excellent) critique partners and beta readers – They will be the ones who tell you what’s hot with your story and what’s not. Take it all on board and use what you want or need to make your book better. But never forget that it’s your book and you are free to tell your story how you want to. That’s why we’re talking self-publishing in the first place, right?
  5. Keep interacting on your social media and posting those blog posts.
  6. Hire a professional cover designer – (unless you’re a graphic designer with book design experience). I don’t understand what goes through people’s minds when they think they can do this part themselves. Why spend months or even years giving birth to your pride and joy, only to have a mediocre cover? Do your research. Look at other covers in your genre and find out what you like, but also what the audience likes. You don’t have to follow the trends, but it’s a good idea to know what they are. A great cover designer will know how to design a great cover, and there are lots of artists out there who are very affordable. (Me! Jumps up and down and waves hands.)
  7. Keep interacting on your social media and posting those blog posts.
  8. Schedule a cover reveal – Make this happen before your publishing date. Even if you don’t have a set date you’re going to hit the publish button, you should at least have a month you want to publish in. Cover reveals are a great way to drum up more interest in you and your book. I use a tour company because the reach is far greater than what I could do on my own. It costs around $30 and is a worthwhile investment. There are several tour companies that do them, but I highly recommend Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours. I would suggest scheduling a cover reveal anywhere from three months to one month before publication.
  9. Get your book up on Goodreads – Do this before it’s published so your friends and other people can add it to their TBR. This is a great form of free promotion. When someone adds your book, their friends see it in their feed. If they add it, then their friends see it, and so on. Goodreads can create great exposure.
  10. Hire a professional editor – I didn’t follow my own advice on this one for my first two books, and I don’t regret it, but I am seriously considering using an editor for my next one. I’ve had next to no negative comments regarding my editing so far, but I want the next level of professionalism. If you can’t afford an editor, my advice is to have as many people read your book as you possibly can, because they will all pick up something different. My golden rule also is: PRINT IT OUT. I know when I read on screen I miss things. I much prefer the red pen and paper approach, and I usually go through at least three printed proofs before I’m happy.
  11. Keep interacting on your social media and posting those blog posts. (I feel like I’m repeating myself :-))

Once you’ve done all of that, you should have a book to be proud of, and hopefully a few people will know about it. Now you need to get it out into the world. We are blessed to have such a fantastic resource in the internet. Imagine how hard it would be to reach potential readers without it. The next list details things to do once your book is complete and ready for publishing.

  1. Send out ARCs – How you do this is up to you. You can contact blogs yourself, or use a tour company and go on a blog tour. You can do it before publication, or after. With both of my books I did it after, mainly because I wanted to have the book available for purchase when the tour was happening. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t allow self-published authors to have their books available for pre-order. Maybe one day that will change. Smashwords recently announced their pre-order facility, which I’m quite excited about and will look into using for my next book.
  2. Market your book! – The work doesn’t stop once the book is published. Get involved as much as you can. Readers love interacting with authors. Use paid advertising, run a giveaway, go on a blog tour, join forums and Facebook groups, and keep interacting on your social media.

Then … rinse and repeat for your next book.

This information is based on my own experience and journey to becoming an Indie author. I’d love to hear about your experiences, what worked for you and what didn’t. Do you have any tips?

K. A. Last is a YA author of Fall For Me and Sacrifice. She drinks lots of tea, is obsessed with Buffy, and loves all things pink. K. A. Last hangs out on Facebook or you can find her on twitter and Goodreads. She’s also been known to blog once in a while.


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