A Self-Publishing Checklist

Hi Story Empire fans, Craig here again. I’m pre-writing this so I don’t know when it will post as it references my process. The big point is I have two books that are very close to being released. One or both may be available when this posts.

Being a self publisher gives a tremendous amount of freedom, but it also comes with all of the work. I thought you might like a peek at what I go through to bring one of my books out. Warning: If you hadn’t noticed before, my process is a kind of organized chaos, so I may wander a bit in this post.

The starting point for me is a finished first draft. This needs to go in the vault for a number of weeks before I attempt any personal edits. In most cases, the draft has been through a brutal critique group and those edits have already been made.

I’m not idle during those weeks. This is the time to commission my cover art. These people need time, and you want a good product. I don’t like having everything perfect, then waiting a number of weeks for the cover to show up. Order early.

I have a cover, Woo Hoo!

I may be the only person who does this part, but I also commission two or three pieces of Lisa Burton art to promote the book with. Lisa is my spokesmodel, and will represent something about the book in her posters. Again – time, might as well get these started too.


At this time, I have all of the artwork for Enhanced League. I put out an inquiry last night (May 5th) about artwork for my next book, The Yak Guy Project. I only mention this to illustrate the planning ahead system I use.

This next part has to be done ahead of time, but it can go different places in the process. I like to pre-write half a dozen blog tour posts. I keep a living document with rough topics, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Interview with muse
  • Two excerpts
  • Inspiration
  • Writing tips
  • Research
  • What I want personal goal
  • Later on a snippet of reviews
  • Inspiration for this story
  • Meet main character
  • What does the future hold
  • Speculative fiction what if
  • Customize for Lisa

I modify the list, depending on what I think I need. I haven’t trotted Lorelei, my Muse, out for the last few. She’s a semi regular on my blog, but I could do it again. I try to have some as me writing, and some as a visit from Lisa. More on this later.

After doing my edits, I put out a call for beta readers. I usually reveal the cover at this time. These wonderful people volunteer, and give me crucial feedback on my work. It’s up to me to decide what to adjust, and this also takes time. It isn’t right to send someone the MS and ask for a report in one week. Think ahead. My regulars and I share beta reading projects, and I get a different mix every time, but almost all the volunteers are repeat experts. Don’t neglect the care and feeding of your beta readers. This is a quid pro quo arrangement, and you have to be there for them.

Obviously, some assembly is required at this point. If you hire a professional editor, after finishing the beta modifications, this would be the time. You may want to send out advance reading copies (ARCs) to stack up some reviews for your release. Contact these people early. Some of them are very busy people, and you may find them booked if you wait too long.

Lately, I’ve been hiring a formatter, and find the investment well worth the reduction in stress. This process also takes time. If you’re getting a vibe about planning ahead, you’re getting my message. The formatter can’t be hired until the manuscript is perfect.

When pushing through the Amazon machine, there is a waiting period for Amazon to bless your baby. This is the time to look over your website. This means your “about me” page, how your sidebar, or pages are going to welcome the new baby book. I like to keep my two most recent covers in the sidebar, and linked directly to the purchase. (Can’t do that until Amazon provides the link.)

This is a good time to look over your social media too. Do you want a new background on Twitter to reflect your cover art? A new pinned post on Facebook? I need to add the book to my Facebook page, just in case someone wants to buy from there.

When Amazon delivers the link, this is the time to execute all the website, and social media changes. Maybe you pre-wrote a new about me page, I’ll probably edit what I have. Make sure to find a universal link so shoppers in other countries can also buy your book. I have a lot of UK fans, so I want to make life easy for them too. Don’t forget to contact the Goodreads Librarians and get the book added over there.

Release day is when I put out a call for blog hosts. Familiarity is a good thing, so I’ll include the cover here too. Remember those pre-written posts I made? This is what I use them for.

My volunteers usually ask for Lisa more often than me, so sometimes I need to write one on the fly, but that isn’t too hard. Occasionally, someone will want to do their own interview, I’m absolutely available for this. I send Lisa’s posts out with one poster, and she talks about the book and the scene in the poster. Those who like to collect the posters have to check out more of the tour to get the rest of them. Theory: Maybe they’ll read one or two of the posts, and wind up buying the book.

My Lisa posters are great for Pinterest and other social media. In the following days, I’ll run them out so they can lead people to the book. This time out, I think I’ll include them as back of the book material. It will be a little freeby surprise. (Depends on what my formatter tells me, but the initial contact went well. Yup, I started early.)

At the time of this writing, I have a two finished drafts in the vault. That makes me a glutton for punishment, because my process will involve two books at once. I’d like to have both of them out before school releases for the summer; probably not going to happen.

I hope my process will provide a few nuggets for the rest of you. I’m the only author out there with a spokesmodel, and I understand that you won’t be doing that part. Perhaps, you could substitute a character interview instead. Note: I host character interviews on my personal blog, Entertaining Stories. You may like the list of blog tour topics. Maybe a reminder to check your social media presence is just what you needed. What is your process? Let us hear from you in the comments.



53 thoughts on “A Self-Publishing Checklist

  1. Pingback: This Week’s Writing Links

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  3. Good one today, Craig! I wish I’d had more time to do all these for An Arrow Against the Wind but I needed to get it out in April so I skipped some of the preliminary blogging and other pre-release promotion. I’ll do a lot more of that next time around. Thanks for the tips and the behind-the-scenes look!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m late on commenting today thanks to Monday insanity and a power outage that sucked up the morning. You are extremely organized, and as others have noted, loaded with energy to take on two book releases at once. Just doing one usually sucks the life out of me, LOL!

    The only other items I usually toss into my process is a newsletter announcement and targeted Facebook ads. Looking at your list makes me realize I have to get busy with some updating on my own blog for my next release.

    And speaking of blogs, you know I’m available for promo whenever you’re ready!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Tremendous work, Craig. I don’t know if Id have managed. For me self-pub is out pf the question. There are all kind of formalities that, for me, out here are so complicated verging to impossible. But you have the freedom to do what you like with your book. Best of luck with your writing and send my regards to Lisa!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: A Self-Publishing Checklist | Story Empire – Joan Hall

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