The Print Book Self-Publishing Checklist: 20 To-Do Items from Bestselling Author J.J. Hebert

Self Publishing Checklist

  1. Continually study the craft of writing. Take advantage of all the writing resources you can get your hands on. Read books and articles on writing. Join writers groups. The idea here is to get equipped with the tools needed to successfully write a solid and publishable book.
  2. Revise and proofread your manuscript until you are pleased with the outcome. Your final draft should NOT be your first draft.
  3. Hire a professional editor and heed his/her advice. A pro editor is invaluable and should be able to take your manuscript to the next level. Depending on how you plan to self-publish, you can outsource the editing to a freelancer or publishing services company or even a self-publishing company that includes editing in a publishing package.
  4. If your book is a picture book, now’s the time to prepare your pre-existing illustrations or images or hire a children’s book illustrator.  All images should be 300 dpi (i.e. high resolution).
  5. Pick the book formats you plan to use (hardcover/paperback). If you’d rather go the ebook-only route (which I don’t recommend because you’ll limit your market and sales opportunities), you should look into ebook conversion and distribution services.
  6. No matter what the genre, now is also the time to hire a book cover designer or design it yourself only if you are a professional graphic designer. Keep in mind that most self-publishing companies include book cover design in their publishing packages; however, you should only consider designers who create “custom” designs. There’s a big difference between “customizable” and “custom.” The former usually implies that the designer is working with a template, whereas the latter suggests that the designer is creating something unique. Since the cover is the first thing readers will see (usually), it’s important to put a lot of your focus on having a professional custom cover design created.
  7. Use comparable titles on the market to determine your retail price. Whatever you do, don’t overprice your book!
  8. Obtain the ISBN and barcode directly from Bowker. You can also obtain the ISBN/barcode via a publishing package.
  9. Register your copyright. Understand that in the United States, manuscript text is copyrighted upon its creation. As per the US Copyright Office, “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form,” and therefore registration is optional but recommended.
  10. Hire a professional to handle the typesetting/layout of your book once the text has been fully edited and finalized. Again, you can usually find a publishing package that includes interior layout as well.
  11. Write a blurb for the back cover. This should be around a paragraph long, written in third person (normally). Don’t give away the ending. Simply use the blurb to entice readers.
  12. Find a book printer/manufacturer.
  13. Locate a book distributor as well.
  14. Choose a book launch date.
  15. Decide who will handle order processing and fulfillment.
  16. Start marketing your book well in advance if possible. There are many free book marketing resources available, such as 75 Book Marketing Tips for Authors.
  17. Print a galley or proof copy to ensure high quality.
  18. Hire a PR firm or handle your own press releases and media outreach.
  19. Launch your book. Try to setup a local book signing to celebrate the launch. Local newspapers will usually give you a nice write-up as well.
  20. Continue marketing your book. Again, 75 Book Marketing Tips for Authors is very helpful. Market your book over and over and over again.


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About J.J. Hebert:

  • Author of two self-published MindStir Media/ bestselling books, with over 100,000 copies sold worldwide.
  • President & CEO of MindStir Media, a top self-publishing company seen on Lifetime, Fox Business, History Channel, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Biography Channel, Bravo and Ovation TV.
  • Helped produce hundreds of books for authors nationwide.
  • Provided thousands of publishing consultations. Schedule a free publishing consultation with J.J. Hebert right now.
  • Hailed as the “Self-Publishing Guru” by The Good Men Project.