Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Sophomore Self-Publisher: The Checklist

When I self-pubbed The Vesuvius Isotope, I blogged this self-publishing checklist to help keep track of all of the details as I was going through the process. Subsequently, I offered retrospective advice for the "DOs" of self-publishing here and here, and the "DON'Ts" of self-publishing here and here, all of which were lessons learned along the way.

Then I solicited some advice on self-publishing for a SECOND time, courtesy of Doha 12 and South author Lance Charnes, as he had just gone through the process with his second novel. Those posts can be found here and here.

Today, I give you my current checklist as I prepare to self-pub my second thriller, The Death Row Complex. The Death Row Complex is a prequel to The Vesuvius Isotope.

My business and author channels are already established, so I won't reiterate how to set those up here. For first-time authors, please see the above posts for detailed instructions on how to do this. But there are still a lot of new and additional steps involved, and I'm hoping to learn from Lance's experience so I don't have to reinvent the wheel. I've gone through the writing and editing processes and am now on the final proofreading step. So... here is a distillation of the steps I have left, which incorporates elements of my previous checklist, my own dos and don'ts, advice from Lance's posts above, and a few changes. As always, please feel free to add to the discussion with your own experiences and lessons learned! And without further adieu...

The Checklist:
  • Before publishing:
    • Final proofreading
    • Assign ISBNs - I purchased a block of ten for Vesuvius, so I've now got them ready to go
    • Obtain LCCN
      • See previous posts to decide if you want to obtain one of these-- it's not required
      • I failed to do this properly the first time around, but I'm trying to get it right this time
      • It must be done after assigning ISBN but before finalizing, as the LCCN must be printed on the copyright page
      • Print both the ISBNs and the LCCN on the copyright page
    • In parallel, initiate artwork design - I've gone back to Damonza, who rocked the first time
    • When artwork and proofreading is done and ISBNs/LCCN assigned, format book
      • I let Damonza's handle all of my formatting for Vesuvius and it was worth every penny
      • The only mistake I made was not being 100% DONE with all edits (a comma here, a hyphen there…) before sending the manuscript for formatting. Damonza's offers unlimited formatting changes as part of their artwork and formatting packages. But if you ask them to change a comma, which is editing, not formatting, they'll charge you per comma. Which is fair enough. So, please, be finished editing at that point.
    • During final stages of artwork and formatting tweaks, this is an excellent time to update your websites and/or branding. I'm currently reading Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur by Joanna Penn, and it's got me really thinking about the business and marketing side of things. In keeping with this, I'm thinking it's a great idea to revisit one's brand with the completion of each book. So I'm planning to spend the time I have between drafts from Damonza's to consider this and my audience and to tweak my websites and social media pages accordingly. Stay tuned…
    • After artwork and formatting are completely done, register your copyright
  • Publishing:
    • Direct ebook upload to Kindle Direct Pubishing, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes
    • Print book upload to Createspace and Lightning Source
    • Order print copies for launch party and subsequent signings/promotion
    • Upload print book to Amazon, Barnes And Noble
    • Upload to author website and Murder Lab
    • Update Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts to link new book
  • Post-Publishing:
    • My launch party is going a different direction this time, and to be frank, I'm taking a huge gamble. Last time, I sold thirty-three books at the launch party, which was pretty good for a self-pubbed debut historical thriller, methinks. It put a nice spike in my Lightning Source sales record. This time, I'm hoping to sell more than a hundred. But here's the gamble: I'm not doing it in a bookstore. Instead, my husband is closing Cucina Italiana and we're having the hard launch in our restaurant. Why? Because TONS of my local fans were found through this venue, and they love the place. So, we're using the enticement of free appetizers and wine to draw people who love both the restaurant and my first book. That's the advantage. The disadvantage is that none of these sales will go through a bookstore, and therefore none of them will "count" in the publishing world.  
    • See Lance's posts for some excellent advice about book reviews, library, and bookstore placement (or lack thereof…)
    • Regarding bookstore placement, I canvassed the entire Southern California area in the first few months of the release of Vesuvius, and here's what I've learned: there are three bookstores in Southern California that are REALLY helpful for me. Vesuvius is still selling in these stores, and I keep supplying copies when they need more (which is a great feeling.) The book also did great at my signings there. So… since I now have a full-time day job and don't have time for signings that won't sell, I'm focusing on these three stores. If I find myself out of a day job again sometime soon, I might do some signings elsewhere as well. But for now, it's these:
    • Stay tuned for additional posts about how else my marketing strategy is changing this time around...


  1. Good list.

    I finally figured out there's no point to an ISBN for the Kindle edition. It sells only on Amazon, and they don't care if it has an ISBN -- they use the ASIN. That's one fewer $25 code you have to blow on your book launch.

    Good luck!

    1. Lance, interesting. But it's the same ISBN for all of the ebook formats, right? I used two ISBNs per title, one for print and one for all ebooks. Did you do it differently? And if you make an audiobook, you'd need a third one...

    2. I used an ISBN for the print edition, one for MOBI (the Kindle format) and one for ePub (everybody else). The way I'd read things, each separate, non-interchangeable edition is supposed to have its own ISBN. Bowker would say that, of course. But the Kindle format never leaves the 'Zon universe and they have their own ID number, so if I do this again, I'll follow the (apparently common) practice of not bothering with a separate ISBN for the Kindle edition.

      Yes, if you do an audiobook, it'd need its own ISBN, since it's a separate, non-interchangeable edition.

      I'm not sure the ISBN police are watching all that closely. I doubt it'll become a big issue if you do a single ISBN for all your electronic editions until you start selling millions of copies, in which case, what a lovely problem to have!