It’s almost here. YOu have a date set for publication, you’ve picked the publishing agency you’re going through, and you’ve done all the hard work of making sure your book is ready to go. So now what? This may seem like a hurry up and wait stage, but there is actually plenty of work to be done. Obviously, this process will be different depending on how you’re publishing and who you’re publishing through, but for an indie author there are some universal checklist points to hit before the big day comes and you start doing your happy dance in the living room (At least, that’s what I did…)
1. Get a proof and really go over it
It may seem tedious, but this is so important. If you have the option to order a proof copy of your book first (and it’s kind of a red flag if you can’t), take advantage of that and order one. This is the copy that, first of all, will be your precious that you act as protectively over as Gollum would the ring. It’s special, and let me tell you there’s no feeling quite like holding your book in your hands for the first time. It’s surreal.
More than that though, this is an important part of the publishing process. Besides just seeing your book for the first time, this is an important opportunity to make sure everything is exactly how you want it. This is the copy that you go over with a fine-tooth comb for any and every issue in formatting and printing. No critique is too small at this stage. My dad and I actually had a lengthy discussion about the closeness of the interior print to the fold of the book’s spine. This is how thorough you want to be.
The reason for this is that this is the time to finalize any changes. After this point, you will be bulk ordering books and you want to have them look proper. It’s a lot easier to go back and make formatting changes when you only have one book on hand instead of sixty. Be thorough now and save yourself time later.
2. Plan a launch event
Who doesn’t like a good party? Especially one that’s all about your latest accomplishment. Trust me. You’re going to want a launch event. You’ve worked so hard and that’s definitely worth throwing a big party for! The caveat here is that your launch event is so much more than just a party.
Your launch event is a huge opportunity to generate interest in your book and thank all of the people who have been on your support team up to this point. In addition to that, it’s a great opportunity to fulfill preorders and sign books in one convenient location. If that’s not enough to convince you to have an event, it’s also the best place to get media coverage on your book.
You don’t want to miss out on a chance for media coverage.
I was very fortunate to have a reporter come out and cover my launch event. She arrived a little ahead of time time to get a copy of Captain Acorn and interview me. When the event started she stayed for the entirety and in the next couple of days, the paper printed a whole article about me and my book. This was absolutely a help for me and my book. It pushed Captain Acorn into a local spotlight that I couldn’t have achieved just on my own. All this to the point I actually overheard two women talking about my book in a store weeks after the article came out. Media attention can’t be taken for granted.
3. Plan how you’re going to promote your book and start right away.
This goes hand in hand with your book launch. You can’t just publish your book and call it good if you want continued book sales. That would be nice, but it’s just not realistic. Your book launch is a great thing but it’s a one-time event. You have to have a continuing plan for how to remind people your book is out there.
This is where social media is a great help. Having a platform to post about your book from is absolutely vital in today’s day and age. Promotion is going to look different for each and every author, but the means to do so are becoming increasingly universal. This is such a big part of publishing that I’ll be doing a post on just this alone. But suffice it to say, you want to have social media platforms to promote your book from and you want to start now. Yes, even before your book is out. There’s no time like the present!
4. If you’re going to be shipping anything on your own, make sure you have all your supplies well before your launch.
If you’re going to be doing any book sales from a website of your own, you need to be prepared for shipping. The reason independent publishing agencies like Amazon are so popular is because they cut out any need for you to do any shipping yourself. The pay off is that they take that responsibility in royalties, meaning you get paid less than if you were also making book sales on a website of your own.
So if you’re going to be doing additional sales on a website of your own, you want to be ready ahead of time. Especially since the first few days are going to be when you have to most orders to fill en masse. You don’t want to hit your publication date completely unprepared. So buy all the supplies: shipping envelopes, proper shipping account with the post office, packing tape, you name it. If you’re going to be shipping, do it right and get enough supplies to be your own shipping warehouse. You’ll thank yourself on publication day.
5. Understand that you’re going to make mistakes.
This is new. You’ve never done this before. And you have to understand that you’re not going to get it all right the first time around. I certainly didn’t, and that’s ok. You have to give yourself the grace to make some mistakes in this process or you’ll go insane.
You could do all the preparation in the world and have a thousand and one items on your checklist and you are still going to make mistakes in the publishing process. Why? Because you’re learning, and you weren’t born knowing how to publish a book. Even if you were, so many things are changing and happening you can hardly expect the process to play by the rules. As the saying goes, “No plan survives first contact.” You have to be ready for some curveballs and trip-ups and you have to take them in your stride. It will truly save you more time in the long run. Take the time to treat your mistakes as the learning opportunities they are and you’ll keep coming back to this process stronger and stronger.
You’re so close to the finish, but this is no time to slow down the work. While this checklist is by no means comprehensive, it’s an exciting shift in book process priorities. You are no longer focused solely on the creation of the book. That’s done. Now you have to get ready to send it out into the world, and that is well worth all your hard work. Keep it up, you’re doing better than you know.
Let’s find some joy,