When I decided to self-publish my series Mara of the League, I found lots of internet articles on how to create a book. Nevertheless, although there was a great deal of information available, I still found it challenging to figure out exactly what actions were required and what order to take them in. I would have appreciated a checklist which I could follow a step at a time. Therefore, as I worked my way through the self-publishing process, I kept notes on what I did and what order I did it in. For anyone else who is looking for a step-by-step guide to self-publishing, here is the process I used.
Disclaimer – I cannot be sure I did everything right! But I can say I ended up with a book.
I allowed myself six months to complete the self-publishing process. For me, this turned out to be almost exactly right.
In this checklist, I will also be focusing on tasks directly related to producing the book itself. I will mention a few promotional activities which require advance planning – but a comprehensive guide to promotion will require another article!
- Commission Artwork
I commissioned an original painting for my cover and I feel it was well worth it. If your budget does not allow for this, a good designer can still create an attractive cover using stock images. You can do it yourself if you have the skills. I was fortunate to find a near-perfect artist through a recommendation from a friend. If I had not had such a friend, I would have looked on-line. As you will see below, I personally have had good experiences finding professionals on Fivrrr.
- Get on Social Media
If you are already active on social media, your main task will be to update your pages, profiles, etc. to emphasize your forthcoming book. You may also want to open accounts on book-related platforms such as Goodreads and Kboards, if you do not already have a presence there. If you are new to social media, this is the time to open accounts on at least 2-3 platforms. I personally get the most use out of Twitter and Facebook, but I know one author with an awesome Tumblr blog, and Instagram certainly has its fans.
- Create an Author’s Page on Amazon
To find reviewers, other author who are willing to collaborate with you on promotion, etc.
- WebsiteI was fortunate enough to have a friend with web design experience to help me set up thomasmkane.com. If I had need to do it myself, I would have probably used Wix.
- Hire an Editor
I found mine using Fiverr.
- Set Up Google Alerts
You can arrange to have Google e-mail you if certain keywords turn up on the internet. You can, for instance, ask to be alerted to references to your book’s title, or to your characters’ names. This increases your chances of detecting anyone who may be selling your book without permission. It doesn’t provide complete protection, but it’s free and easy to use. I found instructions for settng up Google Alerts simply by googling the term “Google Alerts.”
- Copyright Registration
Since I am not a lawyer, I hesitate to say too much about this process. Suffice it to say that I decided to register my work with the US Copyright Office, and I did so using the office’s on-line system abut three months into my publishing process.
- Text Formatting
By this time, all being well, you and your editor will have finished the editing process. You then need to format your manuscript for publication. If you plan to publish on Amazon, you can do this yourself using free on-line tools available on Amazon’s website. Other self-publishing platforms provide similar resources. I have author friends who tell me that they were able to format their manuscripts in a matter of hours, but the process is complicated and I found it worthwhile to hire a professional, again using Fiverr.
- Cover Formatting.
If you plan to have a print book, you can save yourself trouble by doing the text formatting first. This is because the text formatting influences the book’s page count, and the page count affects the size of the cover.
Just as it is possible to format your own text, it is also possible to design your own cover. Again, I found it worthwhile to hire a professional. I was fortunate enough to have met an excellent cover designer on Facebook, so hired her.
- Uploading (and ISBN)
As you work through the formatting process you will begin uploading your work to your on-line self-publishing platform. I used Amazon KDP, and I found its KDP Jumpstart page relatively simple to follow. This is also the stage in the process at which you acquire your ISBN. You can either get your own ISBN or let your platform do it for you. I took advantage of the latter option and found the process far simpler than I might have feared.
There are advantages to getting your own ISBN, so I would encourage others to research them before making a decision.
- Mandatory Deposit
If your book is distributed in the United States, you must deposit two copies with the US Library of Congress. Again, I am not qualified to give legal advice, so I urge all others to research this issue for themselves. I did my own research using resources available on the US Copyright Office’s website. I am happy to add that if I understood the issue correctly, the process really was straightforward – I simply sent two books to the address the Copyright Office provided.
I hope this is useful! Best wishes with your books!