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Your Self-Publishing Checklist: What to Include and Why

If you're a writer hoping to self-publish your book, more than just your writing matters. Actually, that's the case whether you publish on your own or with a publishing company.

During my experience in the publishing industry, I've come to find key factors matter when buying and promoting books—and not all of them are obvious to self-publishing authors. To make sure your work can sell alongside your competitors, follow my 5-point self-publishing checklist:

1. Make your cover attractive

Contrary to the age-old saying "don't judge a book by its cover," in today's digital age, covers matter a lot. In fact, they might matter even more than the writing inside.

Covers introduce your story to your audience. They provide a snippet of what to expect—from the mood to the characters and more.

My Tip: Research bestselling books in your genre and try to copy that style in your cover. If you can create your own cover, great! If not, invest in a professional book designer who can take your idea and run with it.

2. Get your book professionally edited

A book with lots of writing issues and narrative flow problems likely won't sell well, no matter how inviting your cover looks. Chances are that after the first few sales, people will begin to leave reviews. If a book's contents don't meet reader's expectations, they will talk. Bad reviews can lead to a dry up in sales and ruin your self-publishing career before it takes off.

My Tip: Invest in a professional editor, especially if you plan to self-publish your book. Editors work tirelessly to help your work improve. They live and breathe the worlds you create, the words you put on a page. Plus, they're instant book promoters. With an editor on your team, you're one step closer to meeting your publication dreams. But remember: a freelance editor doesn't (and shouldn't) mean free. Expect to pay for their services—anywhere from $800 to $3,000+ is standard for a good, complete, professional edit of your novel.

3. Proofread your book

If you're hesitant to invest in a full edit for your book, consider proofreading your novel. Have friends, family members, or a professional proofreader (often a freelance editor) check your work for proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistency. Typos happen in many novels, but they shouldn't appear often! Proofreading makes your work look more polished and professional and shouldn't be overlooked.

My Tip: Don't proofread your book yourself. Have an outsider review it (and ideally pay them something for their time). Often, they'll find things you never would've found on your own since you're so close to your own creation and have seen it so many times.

4. Write an engaging book blurb

After you've taken care of the novel itself, think about ways to promote it. One aspect that matters a lot when selling to an audience is having a captivating blurb. Think of a blurb as the elevator pitch to your reader and your book's movie trailer wrapped into one. You want something snappy and engaging that tells just enough to pique interest but leaves enough unanswered to make your reader want to find out more.

My Tip: Keep book blurbs short, 60 to 200 words generally. Remember they have versatility too. Often, you see them on the backs of books, but they also help make up your book's online presence (on your Amazon product page, your website, etc.). Not sure where to start? Check out blurbs in your genre and try to copy that, or see the blurbs on my portfolio.

5. Create a marketing plan

Last but most important of all, come up with a marketing plan for your novel. Traditionally published authors often have an advantage here. Once their book is published, a team of marketing experts and salespeople flood social media channels and bookstores with information about the book and why readers want it. But if you're self-publishing, you have to do this on your own. Having a marketing plan sets you on track for success.

My Tip: Investigate traditional publishers' tactics. Have a social media presence (it doesn't have to be very big) and/or a website and make an effort to engage with your readers. Network with industry professionals and even other authors. Reach out to book bloggers, author interviewers, and professional freelance marketers or reviewers to get them on board and make your book shine in the world among greats.

Why you should invest in your self-published book

Writing a book is tough. Getting it noticed is tough too. But if you want your book to compete with the best, why not try to make it a strong competitor? The great thing is that people are out there waiting and wanting to help you.

Investing in your self-published book is investing in your future. If you take the right steps (like following the checklist above), your book can sell—perhaps even far surpassing your expectations.

If you're thinking of self-publishing and want more information on how to promote, let's work together. I offer publishing consulting services and book blurb writing in addition to other freelance editing options. Reach out today and let me help your dream happen!

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