Self-Publishing: Preliminary Checklist
The process to publish my novel was long and involved a lot of steps I didn’t expect until I reached them. So, here is an overview of the major steps involved with the self-publishing process:
Finish the Book
As exciting as it might be to start the designing and publishing aspects of your book while still making final edits, you will find that jumping over steps will lead to the whole process taking much more time.
If you haven’t already, you should consider hiring a professional copy editor to catch the typos you inevitably skip over. And once you are done, you’re ready to move on with the actual process of publishing.
Interior design involves everything from selecting the font for the interior of your book, determining your trim size, and setting up margins, line spacing, chapter headers, page headers, etc. You can choose between doing this yourself and outsourcing it. Either way, you should finish interior designing before moving on to cover designing because a cover needs to be designed with dimensions according to the trim size and number of pages (which affects the spine thickness). I did an extended post about interior designing for publishing previously.
Unless you double as a writer and Photoshop expert (in which case, go you!), I would definitely outsource cover designing. Even if your plot is incredible and your story is well written, you need a good cover if you want your book to sell. Make sure it matches the theme and tone of your story while having a similar structure to other books in your genre.
You will have to decide whether you want your book to have a glossy or matte cover, so keep an eye out for books with different cover types to decide which one suits your book more.
Your work is copyrighted as soon as you put it down on paper, but if this copyright ever gets infringed upon, proof will make the legal process much easier. That means you should register your copyright through the official government website. There is a small monetary cost involved, but it can make it much easier for you to protect your work once it’s published.
Additionally, you need to purchase an international standard book number (ISBN) for your book. This is a 13-digit number that is unique to your book. It helps buyers and sellers identify your book. If you publish your book through different mediums or publishers, a common ISBN will help people recognize that it is the same book.
Importantly, copyright covers the overall idea behind a book, so you can make any edits you want to a copyrighted piece and still be protected. ISBNs are attached to a specific edition of your book, so if you make any major edits (adding or removing scenes, etc.), you will need to purchase another ISBN.
Another seemingly small detail to keep in mind is that you need to have a license to use anything in your book. This includes any images and fonts you may use (on your cover and throughout your manuscript).
While you’re waiting on your cover designer, copyright registration, etc. take some time to work on other details. This includes writing a blurb (or multiple blurbs of different lengths) to advertise your book. You also typically have to select keywords or tags to help readers find your book.
If you finish all of that, start planning your marketing strategy. What social media platforms will you use? What will you post on those platforms and when? Are there any bloggers you can ask for reviews? Will you run any giveaways? Having a set plan before launching your book can make the process much less stressful.
The publishing process can seem overwhelming, but it is very manageable if you take it step by step. And the finished product makes it all worth it!