Book Launch Checklist for Self-Publishers

I don’t know about you, but I loooooove lists! I’m one of those people who keep a pen and notepad at their bedside to jot down stray thoughts popping up between 2 and 3 AM. What I love even better is having a good list at the ready instead of having to create one from scratch. After just finishing another new book launch, I made a list of the steps I took so I could share them with you. Actually, I’m mainly posting it here so I know where to find it the next time around.

Oh, and it’s also a shameless ploy to tell you about my newly-launched book: Kilimandscharo-Tagebuch, which is Kilimanjaro Diaries translated into German and now available as both eBook and paperback on Oh, and in tandem with the launch of that, the English-language Kindle version is on special for 99 cents in the U.S. (99 p in the UK) until Saturday night.

As I started typing the list, I realized that there was much to explain for each bullet, and that I would have lost you somewhere between 2 and 3 (because, let’s face it, there is probably a cute puppy video lurking on another tab of your browser that you’re just ITCHING to watch). So I’m trying something different here. I will post just ONE ITEM on the Book Launch Checklist PER DAY, giving you a constant stream for the next 15 days or so, then work it all together into one super-duper-hyperlinked-together master list.

Also, a quick recap: Presumably you’ve written a book, edited it, and converted it into an eBook. You’ve also previewed and then published your book*, but hopefully you will read this long before you hit “publish,” because some of your launch events can (and should) happen before the actual launch. Starting with today’s focus:

  1. Pick a launch date.

This is one of the hardest things you will need to do as a self-published author. How the heck do you know when your book will be ready to be published? And why am I asking you to do it in the first place? Isn’t that the ONE advantage of self-publishing: NO PESKY DEADLINES?

Yes, it’s all true. And still it’s good to set a date. As motivation, for one, and because you want to prepare your followers for the event.

How to estimate a date, you will ask? Say you’ve written the last word of your story. You’ve found an editor willing to take on your work ASAP. You’ll need to give him or her 4 weeks to complete the job. 4-6 weeks, to be safe. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and get a quicker turnaround – that much better. You’ll then need another 1-2 weeks to incorporate the changes suggested by the editor. Your cover designer will need 3-4 weeks. Formatting your book for publication (both eBook and paperback) can take 1-2 weeks each, depending on how savvy you are with Word (and how prone to taking your computer and throwing it out the window; this might delay you a few more days). In the case of the paperback, you also have to order a proof copy and wait for it to arrive by mail, then check it for problems and typos (trust me, you will think you’ve found them all, but somehow holding a real paperback in your hand makes many more previously invisible ones magically appear) and resubmit your file and order another proof. Add another 2-3 weeks for all that.

Put all this together and you’re at 12-19 weeks. Just to give you an idea, I finished writing Kilimanjaro Diaries at the end of November 2013 and published the Kindle version end of March 2014, about 4 months later, and the paperback version another 2 months after that. But that was my first time (also, and I don’t want to complain about this too much, but I DO have 4 children and a husband who get very irritated if I don’t feed them regularly, a task that very annoyingly tends to interrupt my book-related activities).

It gets easier the more often you do it. Also, some events can overlap with one another, like the cover designer and editor working in parallel. It’s best to draw yourself a timeline with several overlapping tasks. This is one big exercise in project management and you’re doing it more or less all on your own!

You don’t have to slavishly cling to your self-imposed launch date. No one will scold you if you publish a few days early (or, if they do, then you may safely ignore them). But having a launch date will make you feel (and look) more professional in your publishing endeavors.

Come back tomorrow for:

2. Announce launch date on your blog (or create a blog if you don’t have one yet)

View the entire Book Launch Checklist here.

book signing (3)

* The link above only covers publishing your eBook for Kindle. Other eBook formats as well as publishing your print-on-demand paperback through CreateSpace will be covered in upcoming blog posts.

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