An Indie Author Checklist

As a big supporter of to-do lists, check lists, whatever you call them, today I thought I’d make a list of a few things every indie author should consider when jumping into self-publishing. Keep in mind I am certainly no expert–if I’m missing a few key things, perhaps you better tell me so I can hop on it before the book release! This is just a very basic rundown of things I’ve done or am currently doing to better prepare for the release of Gifted, both for the book itself and the beginnings of a small, easy marketing plan. Technically, this gives me 2 to-do lists, which makes me happy, but for blog purposes, you get the basic idea.

Liz Long’s To Do List (Yes, I really do write that at the top of every sheet of paper. <—Freak.)

  • Finish manuscript. There’s literally nothing you can do until you have a real, live, ready to go book. This includes page breaks, correct page numbers, embedded fonts, copyright page, dedications and acknowledgments if any, and most importantly, setting your pages to odd and even so that it prints correctly into a book that doesn’t look amateurish. (Obviously, you can see what I struggled in the last stages. At least now I know how to set my margins and page numbers for any book I write now, because it’s best to set up these things before you start instead of after–it’ll eff up your pages and chapters.)
  • Convert manuscript into correct formatting for book (mine will be a 6×9, clocking in at a healthy 320 pages) (see first bullet about what’s needed for formatting)
  • Convert manuscript into correct formatting for ebooks (I gave up and hired a freelancer for this–check out Jo Harrison if you need help. She’s sweet, she’s fast, and very reasonable. It’s not worth the headache, tears, and temporary heavy drinking to do it myself. The relief I had at her emails was enough for me to realize I didn’t have the patience or time, not if I’m looking at a release in 2 weeks.) <–As a side note, she did my formatting in less than 24 hours AND answered all my frantic emails that day immediately. Seriously, hire this girl if you don’t want to do formatting yourself.
  • Cover art (this includes not just the front cover, but also the back cover AND spine). This is important–I was only thinking in terms of online jpegs, but obviously the back’s gotta be included for the printed version. I got so caught up on the front that I totally forgot about the back bio and synopsis. Luckily, that’s easy-peasy for designers. You need to consider the spine width too, since that’s based on how many pages you end up with after the completed manuscript.
  • Put a spreadsheet together of all the great book bloggers specific to your genre–I’ve got an excel file with names, websites, emails, whether it’s a form or email submission, and additional notes I need to cover when contacting them (if they need links, a chapter sample, etc.) **It’s also important to note that authors should NOT mass-email these bloggers. I want to include their names, websites, anything we have in common or a book they loved that leads into mine. Just as we take time to write the book, they take time to read and review it. I’m not about to spam anyone who might be interested in doing me a huge favor.
  • Participate in reviews or interviews from bloggers or authors as needed.
  • Set up author pages on Goodreads (once you get an ISBN) and Amazon (once you have the book). Also include a giveaway for people to sign up for a hard copy.
  • Asking (very nicely) for Amazon reviews–I’ll first sent out a text message to my friends who have read it and beg them. Then I’ll hope other people follow suit. Right now, assuming each person who’s read it posts, that’s 5 or 6 positive reviews off that bat (and not just because they know me–because they actually like it!).
  • Set up book on my own blog-add the cover and info, post the cover jpeg every-freakin’-where I can, and promote in general.
  • Wait. This is definitely my toughest thing. You have to wait to get approval for the print copy, to get premium cataloging at Smashwords, to get approved by Amazon for your Kindle versions. It’s definitely a waiting game. I recommend taking this time to write up a nice proposal for bloggers and begin sending out your information (individual emails!) and asking for a review with a pretty-please-and-sugar-on-top.

So there you have it. A short yet always ongoing check list. Like I said, it’s the quick and dirty version of my list, but I think they’re all very important on the path to indie publishing. There’s always something to do, someone to talk to, words to write, but I think as long as you have a general idea of what needs to get accomplished, the “how” will come sooner or later.

Please feel free to list any of the items on YOUR check list or if I’ve missed anything that’s super important for every indie author to know!

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