The Big Picture, A to Z, Self-Publishing Checklist

Vik Rubenfeld#AskVik12 Comments

@ClaraRicks1 asks:

Thanks for this great question, Clara. There is a lot that goes into it. On the plus side, it’s getting easier all the time. Here is a big-picture checklist.

  • Get your book designed
  • Format your book for print and ebook
  • Properly launch your book at time of publication
  • Publish to paperback
  • Publish to ebook
Get Your Book Designed

This includes:

Format Your Book for Print and eBook

There are many professionals who can handle this for you. However, if you prefer to handle it yourself (as I do):

For print:

  • Get your book into an MS Word or InDesign file that contains all of the items in the “Get Your Book Designed” section of this post.
  • Export as PDF

For ebook:

  • There are great applications for this, including InDesign, Jutoh, Calibre, etc. They come with a steep learning curve, but they do an excellent job.

A middle ground between hiring a professional and doing it yourself, is to use a template. Paste your text into the template and the template handles the font and page design tasks.

One of the best-known people in this regard is Joel Friedlander at He provides templates that handle the non-creative (i.e. not writing or cover design) tasks listed in the “Get Your Book Designed” and “Format Your Book for Print and E-Book” sections in this post, including exporting to ebook format. I used one of his templates for my novel, Conquest.

Properly Launch Your Book at Time of Publication

This is very important. The time immediately before your book is published is very special for marketing purposes, because that is the time when you can say to the world that something new is on the way. Resources include:

Publish to Paperback

Upload your PDF to one of the following services to have paper copies of your book printed and ready to sell:

Newshelves provides an excellent comparison of these three services.

Publish to eBook

Your ebook can be published and sold via:

Some articles comparing these services are provided by:

I hope this has been helpful.

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12 Comments on “The Big Picture, A to Z, Self-Publishing Checklist”

  1. Hey, thanks for sharing the whole process in such a no nonsense way and the links you added were also very helpful.
    I must say, the whole publishing process needs a lots of guts and knowledge to complete.
    Thanks again!! 🙂

  2. I would also add “Seek professional editing and proofreading” to this list!

    Though perhaps you intended for the list to show the steps after the manuscript is 100% complete.

    Anyway, I certainly agree that self-publishers need good design as well. 🙂

    (PS: I found a typo. It should be “Lightning Source.”)

  3. Thanks for this feedback, Lauren! Yes, I intended the list to be for steps after the manuscript is complete. At the same time, I agree strongly about the importance of professional editing and proofreading!

    P.S. Typo corrected!

  4. If you have no design experience, look at the indie books with the best covers, (meaning quality art, no gimmicky type faces and that appeal to you) and contact the designer. You won’t regret it. Hire and editor and proofreader.

    Vik isn’t kidding about hiring professionals. I worked on both the editorial and design side of the industry but many authors didn’t and it shows in their books. Reviewers notice it too, as well as readers who don’t click through to buy after they finish the sample chapters.

  5. Thanks for some great tips.

    On the cover design, I’d add that it needs to work at thumbnail size as well as regular size. If it fades into the background or the words are 2 pixels high when it’s viewed as a thumbnail it won’t get as many people clicking through – even if you’ve got an attention grabbing title.

    And remember that Amazon will create a “look inside” excerpt. A lot of authors use some of that space to offer a freebie in exchange for an email address so that they can build up a list of potential buyers.

  6. I’d add Lulu to the list of paperback printers. They do an excellent job, and in the UK they provide local shipping – faster and cheaper than getting your book printed in the USA.

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