Hi all you jungle dwellers, I’m back at the Ape’s tree house today to talk about my self-publishing checklist.
I recently finished a manuscript, and am on the verge of finishing another one. (It’s March at the time of this writing) I believe in the traditional advice of putting it away for a time, before I begin the editing process. During this time, I like to read and can work on the other book.
That doesn’t mean I’m stagnant as far as the finished MS goes. I just put in an order for cover art. My artist is fast, and usually delivers within a couple of weeks. My personal process also involves ordering a few promotional posters. These feature my spokesmodel, Lisa the robot girl. (Yes for Lisa’s legion of fans, there is new artwork on the way.)
If it takes two weeks for my artist to complete a project, I have eight weeks before I can start promoting. By the time this posts in June, there may actually be another book in my list.
The finished project is a collection of short stories, but this time they tell a larger story. I like to try new things, and time will tell whether it resonates with readers or not. I never had much trouble formatting a table of contents when it involved numbered chapters. Short stories all have their own titles, and it gets more complicated. Along about the time I published my second Experimental Notebook, something changed between my Mac and the Amazon machinery. They didn’t get along as well as they once did.
This led me to hiring a formatter. She did such an awesome job, at such a good price, that I vowed to use her for all my projects. This is another item for the checklist, but I need to send her a finished product. I’m also toying with the idea of including all the Lisa posters at the end of the book as a kind of extra for my readers. I’m sure this is nothing to her, but it would take me weeks to figure out.
As far as getting the edits done, I use both critique and beta readers. My critique group gets the project as it develops. Beta readers get a mostly finished product. I find that critique and beta seems to give me something different, so I do both.
This means I need to do my own editing, then give beta readers a month to do their thing. Fortunately, this can overlap with the time my artist needs. When I get all the feedback, there is always more work to do on the manuscript itself.
If you have the money, a professional editor is a great idea. You need to budget the correct amount of time for this process too. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t. I believe I can learn from the edits I pay for, and apply ideas to the next project. Money is an issue here, and I could be wrong, but it’s fiscally responsible for me to do it this way.
There is a lot of planning that goes into one of these. This time, I don’t have a target publication date, but I did on the last one. This caused me to accelerate my timetable so I could have everything well before the publication date.
There are other things to think of here too. If I want to do any kind of promotional tour, I need to contact those people well in advance. I need to pre-write the posts and have them delivered on time. Some hosts want me to talk to their readers, some want Lisa the robot girl to visit, I need to know ahead of time how I’m writing their posts. It’s all in the planning.
I could also hire a blog tour company, but I still have to write the posts ahead of time. Tour companies usually get booked up ahead of time, so if you prefer this method you should be contacting them early in the game. I know a lot of prominent bloggers at this point, and prefer the friends & family method.
Speaking of tours, if you’re planning on handing out prizes, you’ll need to order any swag you want ahead of time too.
After the book drops, there is a certain amount of work to do. My blog, Entertaining Stories, has a nice sidebar. I like to have the two most recent publications linked there. I also have a slideshow of all my covers and a link to my Amazon author page. These will need to be updated to accommodate the new purchase link. It’s also a good time to look over the “about me” page and make sure it’s still working for me.
I have a personal goal of following every blog tour post and responding to all the comments for three days. This is going to take some time too, since these posts will overlap during the three days.
This is my method, and it involves a lot of thinking ahead. I really should create a living document and write it all down for reference when I have time. Your method might differ, but if some of this resonates with you, feel free to adapt it to your process.
Let me hear from you in the comments. What does your process look like? Maybe I’ll borrow from you. How do you feel about critique groups, beta readers, and editors? Do you order swag to hand out with your new books? Maybe you like to rent a booth and sell copies by hand, you’ll have a different method than I do, and I’d love to hear about it. Remember, I’ll follow these comments for three days too.