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A checklist for first time indie authors:

self-publishing from start to finish


First of all, I just need you to know that I think you’re so brave to self-publish your book.

Like you, I don’t believe that traditional publishing is the end all and be all of publishing and it’s just a big waiting game littered with disappointments. It makes you stronger, yeah, but self-publishing does too, and guess what?

You’ve got all the control this time.

So let’s do this.


 the checklist

(Just bear in mind this whole process takes months, so don’t pick a launch date too close to now. What’s most important is to do this right. Your future readers will thank you.)

  • Write your book.

    • Hopefully, you’re already done with this part.

  • Get feedback.

    • It’s not enough to give your book to friends and family. You need the objective feedback of beta readers. Most of them do this a lot, so they’re really good at it.

      • Disclaimer: After you get all the feedback, you might have to do some rewrites.

      • Disclaimer: Learn to distinguish between objective criticism and personal opinion. If 10 people said something was wrong, they’re probably right. If 1 person suggested you change something, but nobody else did, maybe it’s just their opinion

    • Where can you find these beta readers?

  • Hire an editor.

    • It’s really important to know the different types of editors here.

      • Developmental Editing - this is the first type of editing you need, it deals with plot issues, character development issues, and everything else on the story level.

      • Copyediting - this is the second type of editing you might need, it deals with sentence structure, style issues, and everything else on the paragraph/sentence level.

      • Proofreading - this is the final type of editing, it deals with spelling, grammar mistakes, and everything else on the word level. (Grammarly does this for free.)

      • As you can see, we move from the big picture to the tiny details because if we reverse the process, we’d have to do everything all over again.

    • Each type of editing has different pricing and may require different follow-up steps.

      • Developmental Edits - This is the most expensive type of editing and after your developmental editor is done with your book, you might have to do re-writes, so please don’t do any copyediting or proofreading before this part is over.

      • Copy Edits - This part is rarely outsourced on its own, usually it’s included in the overall editing package, so there’s really no need to hire someone to do this specifically UNLESS you’re particularly worried about your writing style or sentence structure.

      • Proofreads - This is the cheapest type of editing because it only deals with grammar, typos, etc. It’s the last thing you need to do before you proceed to publish your book.

    • Finally, some editors will provide several of these services, so make sure you ask them what they’ll do exactly and compare their pricing to the standard.

    • To save money:

      • You can pay a professional editor for developmental (and maybe copy edits) and then use a friend or a free tool for the proofreading part.

      • You can give your book to several beta readers, who will find problems with your story and characters, and then pay an editor to do proofreading (and copy edits).

      • You can give it to beta readers for developmental issues and use a free tool for proofreading, but bear in mind, this won’t produce best results.

  • Pick a publisher.

    • First decide what you want to publish: just ebook or paperback as well.

    • Secondly decide on the platform.

      • For ebooks, Amazon is by far the best, it’s easy and it’s free. And they provide some great promotional services, but only if your ebook is exclusively on Amazon.

      • For print, you can go with Amazon as well (it used to be Createspace, but now it’s been consolidated into the Amazon platform) for free. It’s called print-on-demand - the cost of books printed will be taken from the royalties you make.

      • Another popular choice is Ingram Spark because they have a great distribution system and the paperbacks/hardbacks are of great quality. They’re not recommended for total newbies, however, because the process is a bit more complicated and expensive.

        • There’s no point in publishing your ebook on Ingram Spark, as far as I can tell. The royalties on Amazon are higher and Amazon is the top seller of ebooks.

        • A lot of indie authors choose to publish an ebook through KDP and paperback through IngramSpark these days, but for total beginners I recommend to publish both through KDP. It’s easier and cheaper. :)

      • You can also go with a different publishing model, like choosing a printing press and printing and distributing the books yourself, but that’s for pros.

    • Create an account on the platform of your choice.

  • Build a marketing plan.

    • For that, you’ll need to have some kind of author platform in place. Even if it’s not the biggest or the most active, you need the following basics to build on:

      • author website - I recommend Squarespace and my Teal Writer template

      • at least one social media profile - it’s not true that you have to be on every social media channel; if you can do one channel really well, that’s all you need

        • twitter

        • facebook

        • instagram

        • pinterest

    • Next you need to build a LAUNCH PLAN for your book.

  • Hire a cover designer.

    • The book cover’s goal is to attract attention and to tell the reader immediately what genre your book falls under. If you get this step wrong, then they’ll scroll right by your book.

      • Disclaimer: I don’t recommend making your own book cover if you’re not a designer.

    • If you want to make your own book cover:

      • Check out these book cover templates

      • Use a book cover generator like Canva or

      • Use Gimp, it’s kind of like Photoshop, but simpler and free

    • If you want to hire a cover artist:

      • Think about your budget…

        • The starting price for book covers is $200. Anything under is a sign of a beginner, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

        • The pros will charge you anything between $300 and $1000, depending on whether you need print as well and whether you need an illustration.

        • Premade covers (designed for no one and everyone) are cheaper, but mostly generic and they don’t really capture the spirit and the symbolism of your story.

          • There are places for premades like and the book cover marketplace on facebook. The latter has higher quality covers.

        • The cheapest option is to go on, but I don’t recommend it. After all, your book cover is the first thing your readers will see, and it has to be professional and attention-grabbing if you ever hope to attain more readers.

      • Ask your fellow authors for recommendations

        • A lot of indie authors on twitter do that in the #writingcommunity channel. It’s a large group of writers and authors who help one another.

    • Key considerations at this point:

      • Trim Size

        • Many authors make the mistake of thinking about the trim size too late or not at all. Trim size is the size of your book, and while most would say to pick 6 by 9 inches, I’d say it’s way too big for most books/genres. It depends on your page number as well and how handy you want your book to be. 9 by 6 is very big, it’s not good for carrying around. Plus, if you only have 200 pages, it’s going to be thin as well.

        • My favorite trim sizes for a novel are 8 by 5 and 8.5 by 5.5 inches. They are handy and go really well with fiction. For non-fiction, bigger might be better.

        • Watch this video comparison of trim sizes.

      • Cover Template

        • Your cover artist won’t need a template for an ebook cover.

        • They will need a cover template for a print cover - you can get one for free HERE. It just asks you to fill in the trim size, the page number, and paper type, and according to this information, it makes up the spine and the bleed.

      • ISBN number

        • You’ll have to either buy your own ISBN number OR get one for free. You also have to have separate ISBN’s for ebooks and print books.

          • You can buy

          • You can get one free

      • barcode

        • You need to turn that ISBN into a barcode, which will go on the back of your book. Use this free tool to turn your ISBN to a barcode.

        • Think about how you’re going to price your book. Watch this video.

      • back cover material

        • Do you want a blurb only or do you want to include your author bio/photo as well? Maybe you want people to get to know you, or maybe you want to focus on the story. Either one is right, you just have to choose your priority.

      • logo

        • If you have a logo, give it to your cover artist and if you don’t, think about whether you want the designer to put links in place of the logo (next to the barcode)

  • Get reviews.

    • Send ARC copies

  • Format your book.

      • Disclaimer:

  • Upload your book.

    • To upload your book you’ll need:

      • a book cover (pdf for paperback)

      • the manuscript - formatted properly

      • all the meta data - title, author name, series name, etc.

      • a blurb that’s not just relaying the story but actually drawing the reader in

      • categories - the specific genres your book falls under - it’s best to go with 2 - one can be wide and competitive and the other small and specific

        • This video…

      • keywords - a bunch of key phrases that will help readers find your book on the platform, this is extremely important, so do your research

        • This video…



You can hire me to:


Design you an eye-catching and one-of-a-kind book cover.


Format your book - both a perfectly reflowable ebook version and a fixed and styled paperback version.


Make you a website


Help you craft your marketing plan - from getting reviews to launching to

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want to hire me?/How can I help?

(Or you can email me directly at