Many people these days want you to believe that self-publishing is easy and it will be no time at all before you'll be earning a 5, 6, or 7-figure income. Well, it is easy—if you know how. Self-publishing can be done by a beginner with a manuscript and a basic comfort level with the internet, doing searches, and buying stuff online. That's how I started.
However—you knew there was going to be a "however"—there are a lot of steps to complete before you press the Publish button and then afterwards to promote your book. If you're new to publishing, you will encounter many unfamiliar terms and concepts, some that are from the classical age of publishing and some new since the age of digitization. Whether you end up doing the entire self-publishing job yourself or you get some help, there will be a lot to learn just to communicate with others and to make the best decisions as you work toward publication.
Here's a checklist for building a book from scratch. Along the way, you will need:
- A completed manuscript.
- The page count and pagination, which varies with the format.
- Book design: a font, margins, page numbers, header, footer, other stuff. Paperback and e-book editions need separate formatting. And then there's audio books.
- A thorough copy edit and proofreading guided by your style guide and dictionary of choice.
- Chapter openers: design and content.
- Title and sub-title. The last thing you decide before publishing. You need a working title, but don't feel bound by it.
- Pen name? Should you use a pen name?
- Copyright notice, legalese, marketing copy.
- An ISBN (a what?) and perhaps a UPC and Library of Congress number.
- Dedication. Who do you love?
- Table of Contents design. Your novel may not even need a table of contents.
- Front and Back Matter (wait, what?).
- Foreword: Usually written by a friend or authority in your subject matter willing to say something good about what you've done in your book. (Optional)
- Preface: A personal note from you as author. Not needed if you say anything personal you want to say somewhere else, like in the introduction. (Optional)
- Acknowledgments: Who helped? Who do you want to thank?
- Introduction: What would you like to say to your readers before they start reading? Common for nonfiction; probably not needed for fiction, which may need a Prologue, or not.
- Description. You'll need three versions of this: short (50 words), medium (250 words), and long (up to 2500 words) for different uses, such as your back cover, Amazon product page, press release, Author website, Good Reads Author Page, etc. This is just standard in product marketing.
- Author bio and photo. Cover images for websites and print materials.
- A compelling cover design: front, back, spine. Very important to attract attention. Good to get started on this early, but you won't need it completed until you're almost ready to publish.
- A production strategy: paperback first? E-book first? Hardback edition? Audiobook?
- Paperback trim size, paper choice, and binding
- Hardcover? Dust jacket?
- Audio book specifics?
Is that everything? Probably not. But you can do this. Maybe get a little help. That's what we're here for at Touchwood Press. But wait, there's more:
- Target audience analysis for niche marketing. Ideal reader profile.
- Elevator pitch, marketing content like the Descriptions you wrote above.
- Advertising strategy: organic, paid, affiliate, other.
- BISAC categories. Amazon categories.
- Keywords, tags.
- Pricing strategies, tiered pricing, promotion strategies, promotional pricing.
- Channel selections: narrow or wide?
- Press relations.
- Author appearances, podcast interviews, book tour?
- Plan for working the Amazon marketing system.
- Project planning and management. Someone or something to keep you on track as you work through this list.
Publishing a living, breathing book is a surmountable summit. This is something you can do. But the sooner you get started, the better. Let us know if you'd like a little help. Or a lot. Contact us with your questions.