Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Before you embark on the journey of self-publishing, it’s wise to become familiar the many stages of the ebook production and marketing process. Or, if you’re an author in the middle of a self-publishing project, it’s helpful to have a bird’s-eye view of the undetaking. This sample workflow covers the main steps in creating a digital ebook.
This list is a quick outline of the book publishing requirements that begin after you’ve completed writing the final draft of your manuscript. Be warned—though this list is brief, each step may require significant amounts of research as well as an investment of both time and money. It’s an abbreviated workflow that allows you to grasp the many stages in the process in a single place.
Stage 1: Edit Content
- Edit Book. Choose and hire an editor and provide this professional with your complete manuscript When you have a final edited manuscript, and you have carefully read it and approved it, you can then move on to the proofreading step.
- Proofread Book. Choose and hire a Proofreader. Submit the manuscript and allow him or her to perform copyedits. Once you receive the revised document, check it again.
- Prepare Book for Conversion to ebook or print book. To make your manuscript ready for production, review and edit your file according to this checklist for formatting your document.
Stage 2: Design Cover
- Select Cover Designer. Use a professional unless you’re a trained graphic designer. If you create the cover yourself, your audience will judge your book as amateur, even if the writing is exquisite.
- Create Creative Brief and provide to cover designer. Allow the cover designer to work his or her magic.
Stage 3: Design Internal Layout
- Choose Production Tool. Select the tool or service for creating the interior of the book and the style for the chapter headers.
- Produce digital file . Create the internal layout and upload using the ebook production tool or service you’ve chosen.
- Approve Layout. Review the layout and approve.
Stage 4: Metadata
- Gather up all of the metadata you need to define your book online. Metadata includes the book’s description, your author bio, the search categories, cover image, and other identifying information. Much of this content will live on your online store sales page and in the file of the book itself.
Stage 5: Pre-Release
- Make your Pre-Release Plan. This includes the distribution of Advance Reader Copies and the formation of a “street team” to generate your first set of Customer Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
- Pricing strategy. Determine an initial pricing strategy.
Stage 6: Publish
- Choose the online stores where you want to sell your book.
- Upload Interior of book and Cover in the online stores. Also claim your author identity on sites like Amazon Central and Goodreads.
- Upload the metadata that you gathered in the previous step.
- Set up pre-sales if you want to do so.
- Publish Book. Click to publish!
Stage 7: Marketing
- Choose the Marketing Release Date. The marketing release date doesn’t have to be the launch date or the literal date of publication. The marketing release date can be later to give yourself some time to plan an effective introduction.
- Media Kit. Create a media kit, which includes a Q&A, your bio, some sample pages from your book, the blurb, and other materials that will appeal to your audience.
- Marketing Plan. Create a marketing plan that can include your author website and social media plans, making contacts with the press and bloggers, making requests for readings and events, Digital Advertising, and other marketing activities. Set a budget and a calendar.
- Competitive Analysis. Who are your competitors, what do they offer, where do you fit in? What are they doing for marketing that seems to be working and how can you stand out in the field?
- Audience Analysis. Determine who are the ideal customers for your book. If you say “everyone” you’ll likely reach no one. So select a specific, niche market and target your communications just to them. After you begin to saturate this group you can expand to a wider audience.
Stage 8: Tracking Sales and Expenses
- Analytics. Once your book is for sale, review its sales and the expenses you incur. Create a spreadsheet to gather and track the data that is meaningful to you. Regularly check your spreadsheet.
This list outlines the 8 main stages of book production, however it’s not necessarily a linear step-by-step process. You’ll want to go back and work on each stage and time passes and events bring your attention to improvements.
As you can see from this list, the term “self” in “self-publishing” is a misnomer. Creating a digital book today is rarely done by one person alone. It takes many skills that go well beyond writing the book. Behind many successful self-published books is good editor, graphic designer, marketer, and other professionals.
As a self-published author, you get to be the leader of this team and the manager of this exciting process.