The First 90 Days: Ten Things to Do When You Decide to Self-Publish

pinby Wise Ink

You’ve hit “save,” and your beloved manuscript is ready to meet the world. You’ve researched publishing options and landed on pursuing the indie route. Now what? Where do you start?

The standard rule of thumb says: find an editor, pick a designer, and choose a sales strategy. While this is true, don’t make the mistakes that most indie authors make by skipping the key steps that will launch your book smartly. If you do, you’ll be playing catch up. Whether you’re publishing through an online service, going print on demand, or printing a large run, strategize your book’s entry into the world of mass production. Planning does an author good.

Here are ten things to do as soon as you decide to publish your book.

1.    Buy a domain name

As soon as you settle on a title for your book (even if it’s before you finish writing it), buy your domain name. Also purchase the domain for your first and last name if your plan is to publish multiple books. We like for researching available domain names and for purchasing.

2.    Budget your expenses (and time)

Research pricing for editing, design, proofreading, eBook conversion, and other services that you intend to outsource. Once you have multiple bids and a realistic idea of publishing expenses, create a budget and stick to it.

3.    Build an email list

Your book’s launch will be three times more successful if you have an email list before your book is published. Start now. Gather your family, friends, colleagues, other authors, media connections, and industry insiders and place their contact details in a central location. We like using Google Drive’s spreadsheet tool. That way you can access it from any computer and share it with others.

4.    Gather your team

Your team is vital. Does your project have several moving parts? Perhaps a project manager that can coordinate your entire project is the best way to go. Or maybe you’re excited about vetting your own editor and working directly with a designer of your choosing. We recommend lining up your team before the publishing process starts. Check references and samples. Structure the timeline and make sure your team is aware of your key dates.

5.    Start a blog

Even while still in the writing process, starting a blog can offer surprising benefits for your book long-term. Use your blog to attract a readership and create fans. An established blog is a powerful foundation for your book once it’s published. It’s also a credibility builder and magnificent for prepublication search engine optimization.

6.    Launch your social media platforms

One of the best things you can do for your book prior to publishing is become active on the social media scene. Like blogging, it’s stellar for search engine optimization. It’s also a keen way to build advance trust with your readership. Social networks can also open doors for you. Follow and interact with experts, authors, organizations, book reviewers, and readers, and you can easily form allies.

Tip: If you create a Facebook Author Page, easily direct someone to your page by setting a username for it.

7.    Start networking

In addition to social networking, start joining groups like Toastmasters, the National Speaker’s Association, women’s groups, and other groups where you’ll meet allies, supporters, and potential readers. Writers’ conferences, industry trade shows, and publishing events are all good opportunities to start introducing your book to the world. It’ll help with advance planning for future book promotion events and help you know which doors to knock on.

Tip: Join the Goodreads Author Program and create a profile, start sharing book excerpts, and link your blog.

8.    Start your marketing plan

Most authors wait until after their book is published or close to published before they start strategizing their marketing plans. It’s never too early to start brainstorming your marketing and promotional ideas. Intentions could change and they should. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about it now. Your marketing plan should have five areas of outreach: events, media, online websites, speaking, and advertising.

9.    Preview your book

Start a soft launch of your book thirty to forty-five days before it’s available for sale. Start taking pre-orders via your website. The more times a consumer sees something, the more likely they are to start paying attention. Once your book is published, you’re starting from scratch. If you preview your cover or first chapter at least a month before launch, you’ve gotten in front of readers, and you’re ahead of the game.

10. Design a prelaunch plan

Will you have a launch party? Will you debut your book at a national conference? Or stick to virtual strategies like landing pages, social networks, and blogging? Put a plan together at least two to three months before your book is published and begin outreach now. Don’t wait.

So there it is, your prepublishing checklist. What do you think? Are any of these tasks surprises?

Stephanie_RothfussWise Ink Creative Publishing is an agency for authors and publishers. It was created by two passionate publishing professionals, Dara Beevas and Amy Quale, who have helped more than three hundred authors through the publishing process. They are also the authors of Social Media Secrets for Authors.

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