50 Tasks for Indie/Self Publishers

May 5, 2017 | The Business of Publishing

Darcy PattisonWe’d like to thank author and indie publisher (Mims House) Darcy Pattison for this guest post. After being traditionally published, she headed down the path of starting a publishing company and creating a successful self-publishing career. She has published over 20 books through Mims House in the last four years.

This post originally appeared in the newsletter of the Women Writers Conference at the University of Central Arkansas.

  1. Write.
  2. Revise and edit what you have written.
  3. Share what you have written with others.
  4. Revise based on feedback.
  5. Set release date and schedule everything backing up from that date.
  6. Hire a copy editor. Give direction, set deadline, and follow up.
  7. Make changes the copyeditor suggests. Discuss changes you don’t want to make. Change things the copyeditor is correct about, but you really didn’t want to change (too bad, make the change).
  8. Choose the best template to lay out the book in InDesign (professional layout and design software from Adobe). Choose trim size, fonts, and other details.
  9. Spend several hours laying out the book in InDesign.
  10. Hire professional to do the Cataloguing-in-Publication (CIP block) that goes on the copyright page and tells librarians how to catalog the book. Follow up.
  11. Purchase and assign ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) for the hardcover, paperback, ebook, audio book, etc.
  12. Scroll through portfolios of cover artists. Behance.net is my favorite source.
  13. Choose and commission a cover design (because I can’t do great art, and I need GREAT art). Set deadline, discuss changes in design, approve final art.
  14. Lay out cover in InDesign. Select fonts (buy if necessary), and revise until perfect.
  15. Upload cover and interior files to professional printer. Proof files online, order paper proof. Approve proof.
  16. Repeat #15 for different versions, such as hardcover or paperback.
  17. Update list of reviewers. 3-4 months before release date send book for review to review journals, distribution partners, and any appropriate media.
  18. Design, write, and edit promotional materials: seasonal catalog, sell sheet for each book, metadata, cover image in multiple sizes, and postcards or other materials.
  19. Upload metadata, covers, interiors to all distribution partners through FTP (file transfer protocol used for transfer of large files—in other words, a new program and skill to learn).
  20. Hire freelance publicist to contact industry personnel with offer of a review copy.
  21. Maintain the list of industry personnel by updating with each round of reviews.
  22. Hire freelance publicist to find Amazon reviewers appropriate for the book.
  23. Maintain the list of Amazon reviewers by updating with each round of reviews.
  24. After reviews come in, update all metadata online and with distributors.
  25. Consider audio version of the book: distribution, interest, costs, and so on.
  26. Audition audio narrators. ACX.com is one place to look. Keep the good ones and hire again, so you don’t spend so much time looking for a great narrator.
  27. Commission audio narration of the book. Set schedule and follow up.
  28. Modify cover art and add the audio narrator’s name. Change to square format required by audio. Upload all files to the distribution partners and online stores.
  29. Consider ebook versions of your book: distribution, interest, costs, and so on.
  30. Contract freelance ebook conversion. (Wishful thinking. Your budget doesn’t support that cost.)
  31. Convert the ebook yourself. I love the Vellum program for novels. For picture books, I convert twice: once for .mobi (Kindle) and once for .epub (every other platform). Educational distributors often just need a low-resolution pdf. For picture books or novels, that’s at least three ebook versions per title.
  32. Upload ebooks to online stores and distribution partners.
  33. 2-3 months before release, use the promotional materials from #18 and write social media posts. Schedule these for delivery at various times before release date. Schedule guest posts, write them, deliver them, revise them and so on and so forth. In short, promote.
  34. Set up any pre-release promotions and giveaways: Goodreads, Amazon, etc.
  35. Manage all pre-release promotions and mail prize books.
  36. As reviews continue to come in, update all promotional materials and metadata, and update online stores and distributors.
  37. On release date, have a quiet day—unless you’ve planned a launch party. (But who has time to do that?)
  38. BTW, during #1-37, make sure you’re writing consistently on the next book.
  39. On release date, send out requests for reviews on Amazon. Goodreads allows reviews on pre-release books, so hopefully, you’ve gathered several. Now, you can request the reviewers to cross-post onto Amazon.
  40. Monitor sales.
  41. Set up advertising for the book as needed.
  42. As award seasons roll around, monitor which are appropriate for your book. Order enough copies to send to judges, write appropriate cover letters, include appropriate promos, package, and send. Monitor as needed.
  43. Continue to monitor sales and run ads as necessary to sell as many copies as projected / needed / desired.
  44. When awards roll in, update cover with sticker, update metadata and send to online store and distributors, seek additional publicity for the award, update catalog with awards.
  45. Seek out appropriate speaking engagements whenever possible. Prepare a speech, give the speech, sell books or promote books at engagement.
  46. As they come up, discuss new distribution agreements. Upload metadata and all book files as required for that distributor.
  47. Backup all files. Because really, your business is digital files. Backup, backup, backup.
  48. Don’t forget to monitor sales. Set up new ads as needed.
  49. Do the endless accounting. If you sell one ebook to someone in Switzerland through the Apple store, and your profit is $0.15, you must still record that sale in your records. Repeat endlessly. Check sales figures for the month (again), and long for the day when you can afford an accountant.
  50. Don’t forget to write the next book. Because you’re only as good as your next book.

Thank you to our faculty for this Guest Post!

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