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Checklist for Publishing Your Book ~ Part II

I’ve written a story, so, what happens next?

"I created this checklist for those of you who just finished pouring your heart and soul into creating a manuscript. I’ve been there, right where you are now. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve been through the gauntlet of expensive mistakes and incredible successes when writing and publishing my books… and I’m still learning. So, here it is. I hope this checklist helps you to avoid some pit falls that I experienced over the past 12 years of writing and publishing. It’s an exciting journey nonetheless, so hang in there!

To do’s…

- PROOFREAD: Read your story from start to finish, over and over and not at one sitting. Then thumb through it backwards and forwards. Have someone beside yourself read it or edit it, welcoming the good, the bad and the ugly comments. You need fresh eyes to see what you may have missed. There will be several reasons why you read through: one might be for punctuation and another for content. Keep in mind that there are services you can hire to edit and critique what you write if you wish. Meanwhile…

- TO SELF-PUBLISH OR NOT TO SELF-PUBLISH? It is time to decide whether you want to send out your manuscript directly to those Publishing Houses that will accept your work without an agent. Do your homework first. Create a query letter tailored to the individual publisher you are seeking, following their strict guidelines. Writing a query letter is an art and you can purchase lessons online on how to craft a powerful opening and closing that will capture the attention of the one publisher you want. OR…you can craft a query letter to the list of agents that are available online who would work for you to find a publisher for a fee. Just remember one thing…once a publisher takes you on, they will own your soul and your story. If you’re willing to give control to the publisher, then go for it. But you could be your own publisher too. If you want to work, and I mean work, at advertising your story, your manuscript, your book, then start being your own boss. Create a name for your company, google it a few times to see if it is used by another party. If not, it’s yours. Create an imprint to go with your new publishing name by contacting a graphic designer or do it yourself. Be careful not to take a design off the internet, however, for fear of copyright. Congratulations! You’re self-published.

- ILLUSTRATORS AND COST: If you are self-publishing, you can look for an illustrator on Instagram or Pinterest, searching for hashtags that relate to the topic of your story. For example, when I am writing a children’s story about dogs, I search #childrensillustrations or #dogillustrations.

If you find that you like the artwork of an illustrator, contact the person through email, asking questions about their process and pricing, or go to their website. KIDS LIT for Artists is another resource for you to use. I’ve typically paid $100-200 per illustration (“illo” for short), but have paid as little as $60, and as much as $500 per illo. Don’t be afraid to work with illustrators outside of the country. I’ve had wonderful experiences and each time the price was right! If you find an experienced illustrator, that person will guide you through the steps of how they can work with you to create a wonderful product. If you feel uncomfortable, then keep looking for another artist....there are many talented people out there.

- ORGANIZE & LAYOUT: Organize your book from introductory pages to last one. I advise you hire a book designer who will place your story in a book template using programs such as InDesign. The designer will make sure every page flows, from the beginning title pages and blank pages, to the content and the illustrations, aligning of paragraphs and illustrations/pictures, making it ready for the printer. The designer will make sure your book has all the details placed such as page numbers and placing your new publishing logo. We have an Interior Designer I can recommend. This designer worked with us at Whistleslick Press for my books.

- SYNOPSIS/DEDICATION: Your manuscript is not complete for your upcoming book until you write a synopsis for the back that pulls your readers into wanting to read your story. Remember to “tease” your reader into wanting to purchase your book by not telling all!

Create a dedication (optional) in a sentence or short paragraph, making it short and poignant. You can even include a picture if you like.

- ISBN/BAR CODE: This is a must in my mind. It helps to identify your book in a library or bookstore. It makes record of your book. You can also register your book with the Library of Congress if you wish, but that is optional. Contact Bowker ID online and be prepared to know approximately how many pages are in your book, keeping in mind that front and back of a page counts as two. Know also your genre and write a brief description of your story, including the name of your new publishing company. The ISBN number will come to you immediately in email and the bar code will follow shortly. The ISBN number will be above the bar code....also determine price of your book. That will be written above bar code. The bar code, ISBN and price all goes on back cover in bottom right corner.

- COVER DESIGN: Know what you want on your front and back cover. Your front cover design should not be cluttered, instead it should be clean and really capture the interest of a reader as they are walking by or pulling your book off the shelf. We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but how many times do we grab a book off the shelf because its cover was so enticing?

The front cover should include the title, author’s name and illustrators name, should you choose to give credit for the illustrations in your book. Remember, it is good PR to do so as your illustrator has also poured their heart and soul into the book. The back cover includes the synopsis, a possible review from someone who is credible in the field (another author, educator, etc.) and, of course, your publishing logo. Reserve a spot for your ISBN barcode, as well. The spine of the book will include your name (not illustrator’s name) and the title of your book.

- MARKETING: This is most important for you as a self-published author! Think of how you are going to market your newly published book along with your new publishing company. Having a website is especially important for marketing and introducing your viewers to you, the author! Think of the details you would want on your website:

Do you want to sell your books on this website as an online bookstore?

Or do you want your website to be more for blogging short stories?

Do you want your website to just mention the locations where your book is sold, with an introduction to you and your published work?

There are other useful marketing avenues such as Pinterest to share your newly created illustrations and Instagram which helps you gain followers and viewers who will, in turn, share your book. Other small details for marketing can include business cards, custom invoices, or newsletters, making sure you place your new publishing name and imprint. If you need assistance with web design, Instagram or Pinterest, or any of the above mentioned marketing tools, we have a designer who I can recommend, as well.

NOW... Sit back and let all the designers and editors work their magic!

Will you have to spend some money? The answer is Yes! A book properly created is not cheap. Your imagination and writing is the most fun with zero cost! But just think, how rewarding it will be to see your book in print!

REMEMBER: It will cost you at least one thousand or more, no doubt. But, the reward is far greater than the cost!

Please Note: I am not promoting BookBaby, but it is a good company that can publish your book or can also create it into an eBook. Their staff will walk you through the process as well. Remember, however, that they will want to use their own logo versus your new publishing name.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or are interested in any of our contacts from Graphic Designers and Book Designers to Web Designers and Printers. Contact me at

Happy Writing!

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