Self-Publishing. I used to think it was a bad word. Something you did because no publisher wanted your book. It was the last  resort and not a direction I wanted for my writing career, but things change. My mind started changing at the last RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference. There were several workshops with authors talking about the benefits of self-publishing and how to get started. I was intrigued and then blown away by the possibilities. I mulled it over for several weeks, going over the pros and cons and if it was a good fit for me. It was.

Because I’m a planner, the first thing I needed was an attack plan. First and foremost I found every book, and blog I could get my hands on about self-publishing, and compiled this task list to get me started on my journey. I hope these tips prove helpful if you’re on that same journey.

Identify issues, concerns, and pitfalls

I created a list of all the concerns and issues I had with self-publishing and how to avoid them. This will be different for everyone so you need to make your own list. Here’s an example of one of the things on my list. How would I get paid? I live outside the US so this was a major concern.  This was easily answered by Amazon along with other questions I had about payment.

Identify strengths and how to use them

I’m have minimal technical skills, but I do have good business skills, I know how to work a budget, and I’m pretty organized. All important skills to have when self-publishing. These strengths will (I hope) help save me money and make my self-publishing business run smoother.

Identify weaknesses and plan to improve them or get help

By knowing my weaknesses I can decide if it’s something I can improve on or if it’s cheaper for me to hire someone to do it instead. It pays to do your research. I was surprised to find I could do more than I originally thought, and it wasn’t as expensive as I thought to have certain things done.

What are the various elements of self-publishing and the cost

I wanted to know what steps were needed from start to finish to get my book published and how much money (if any) each one was. I tried to think of them in sequential order and continually shuffle them around as I research more and more about self-publishing. This includes things like: write the book, have it professionally edited, send to beta readers, design book cover, send to proofreader, send to formatter, and market the book, etc. I discover three things (1) Tasks that could be done the same time as others and (2) My timeline (production schedule) for publishing a book from start to finish and (3) how much it cost to produce a finished product (book).

Publishing options

I knew I wanted to reach as broad a market as possible and this meant going with more than one publisher. I reviewed each one and decided to go with Amazon, Nook Press and Smashswords. I also decided I wanted to branch into printed book, audio books, and foreign markets. This is important to know as it helps with the next topic (everyone’s favorite) marketing.

Marketing options

This can be a monster of a task, so I decide to keep it simple and break it into three categories: publicity, market mediums, and promotions. I added 5-10 things under each that could be done so I didn’t overwhelm myself or my budget. I had brand elements in place: website, standard formatting, and a tagline, so I didn’t put it on my list. Having said that, I plan to continually tweak it in preparation for self-publishing. And last but certainly not least is the final thing.

Resource List

Because there are so many components of self-publishing I knew a list of resources would be important. Over the past year I’ve compiled a list contacts and their businesses. This list includes: business name, business type (book designer), cost of their service and their timeline (notice they need to do the work), and contact details. This is why keeping your contacts organized and grouped into categories is SO important. It’s good to have more than one for each business type. If they can’t meet your schedule you have other options without having to scramble.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few thing from my list because I’m still reading through the mountain of information and books I have on the topic, but I feel this list is a step in the right direction. What about you?