Self-publishing Timetable - Your Personal Tracking Tool


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In The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing we've tried to stress that for your self-publishing venture to have a good chance of success, you must plan and execute your actions carefully. This timetable will serve as a checklist to help you use your time wisely and do things in the most effective order. (Some of the steps in this timetable will not be clear before reading The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing in its entirety. ) Not all items apply to every book; use your own judgment. When you need specific details on any point, refer to the Index or check the appropriate listing in the Appendix.

I. Do Immediately

To set yourself up as a self-publisher, you must first “take care of business"— establish yourself as a commercial entity.

1. Read the book completely to glean an overview of this exciting adventure you've embarked upon. Read it through a second time, taking notes or highlighting sections.

2. Start developing a “Marketing Mind-set" now!

3. Subscribe to Publishers Weekly magazine.

4. Order a copy of Literary Market Place from R. R. Bowker.

5. Review the bibliography in this book. Borrow from the library, or purchase appropriate books.

6. Choose your publishing company name. Remember to research to see if it has already been used.

7. Write the Small Business Administration for its publications.

8. Contact Bowker for ABI information and listing forms, plus ISBN information and log sheet.

9. Contact the Chamber of Commerce and discuss local business license requirements, regulations, and procedures.

10. File a fictitious name statement (if required in your area).

11. Obtain a post office box.

12. Have letterhead, envelopes, mailing labels, and business cards printed.

13. Open a business checking account.

14. Obtain your resale tax permit.

15. Write the Library of Congress to get your LCCN.

16. Join SPAN (The Small Publishers Association of North America).

17. Review the chapters on Scoping Out a Marketable Subject and Product

Development: Writing Your Book.

II. Do Just After You've Finished Writing Your Book

With manuscript in hand, you're ready to think about the physical aspects of your book: page count, typeface, design, artwork, etc. Also begin thinking about your specific marketing, PR, and distribution strategy.

1. Research your chosen title to see if it has been used already.

2. Get any needed permissions.

3. Wrap up last-minute research and verifications.

4. Ask competent friends or associates to read/critique/edit the manuscript.

Revise accordingly.

5. Have the manuscript professionally edited; make changes, proofread them.

6. Plan the interior design and mark the manuscript in readiness for typesetting.

7. Gather any interior artwork such as photographs or illustrations; size them.

8. Write cutlines for interior art and prepare a keyed list, or incorporate them in computer text.

9. Prepare a castoff to determine preliminary book length, specifications, etc.

10. Get author photo taken.

11. Get professional help to design the cover.

12. Request price quotations from manufactures and typesetters.

13. Determine the tentative retail sales price using our guidelines.

14. Establish your publication date.

15. Photocopy your manuscript and send it out to authorities and key reviewers for advance comments and perhaps a foreword.

16. Assign an ISBN.

17. Complete and submit the ABI form.

18. Complete and submit the LCCN form.

19. Typeset your book or send it to a designer/typesetter.

20. Obtain a Bookland EAN Scanning Symbol.

III. Initial Marketing Strategies

At this point, you set up your promotional campaign and attend to the details of book production.

1. Research your Nationwide Marketing Plan. Track down names and full contact information for reviewers, syndicated columnists, newsletter editors, associations, wholesalers, bookstores, special sales outlets, librarians, subsidiary rights buyers, local media people, etc. Think up innovative strategies. Prepare labels or envelopes.

2. Write the following promotional materials: news release, sales letter, mock review, customer sales flier, short sales blurb, email pitch.

3. Contact appropriate book clubs and first serial rights buyers you have identified through market research to interest them in subsidiary rights.

4. Test mail-order ads if you're using direct marketing.

5. Prepare a personal mailing list from holiday card recipients, business associates, club membership directories, your Rolodex, database, etc.

6. Carefully proofread typeset galleys and have any corrections made.

7. Prepare electronic—or camera-ready—copy according to printer specifications.

8. Double-check that all corrections were made accurately and that all pages, illustrations, etc. are in the correct places.

9. Prepare the index (if applicable).

10. Typeset and proofread index.

11. Send galleys to sources noted in the Appendix.

IV. Do While Your Book Is Being Printed

As you continue your promotional efforts, begin implementing your Nationwide Marketing Plan. Get ready for the arrival of your books. See Chapters 5, 12, and 13 in the Complete Guide to Self-Publishing for more information on these steps.

1. Review bluelines carefully for any final corrections.

2. Set up warehousing space and a shipping area, or arrange for outside fulfillment.

3. Order shipping and office supplies.

4. Prepare the following additional materials: acknowledgment card for reviewers, discount schedule, and return policy statement.

5. Implement your Nationwide Marketing Plan.

6. Follow up on book clubs and first serial rights potential buyers.

7. Mail your prepublication offer to your personal mailing list.

8. Write the copyright office for form TX.

9. Write Dustbooks for listing in their various directories.

10. Implement full-scale mail-order campaign (if applicable).

11. Coordinate freight delivery of books, making sure you'll be there to receive shipment and have payment ready (if needed).

V. Do When Books Arrive

At last: You have books to sell. Your baby has arrived. Now you can begin filling orders and following up on marketing leads. Rejoice!

1. Take an inventory count and open several random cases to be sure books are not scuffed, bound upside down, etc.

2. Photograph book.

3. Fill complimentary copy requests generated by your Nationwide Marketing Plan.

4. Fill advance orders.

5. Pursue prime wholesalers and distributors who have not yet shown interest.

6. Go after second serial rights sales.

7. Implement special sales and innovative promotional ideas.

8. Request the return of pertinent printing materials from your book manufacturer.

9. Complete your copyright registration on form TX.

10. Send a copy of the book to the CIP office.

11. Send a copy of the book to Cumulative Book Index.

12. Send a copy of the book to Baker & Taylor.

13. Embellish your book detail page on and

14. Always carry a copy of the book with you: in your briefcase, handbag, or backpack—and have a case of books in your vehicle.

15. Contact all bookstores in your area.

16. Set up a “revisions" file for noting corrections and new material for subsequent editions.

VI. Ongoing Promotional Activities

A successful self-publisher's work is never done—you'll always be thinking of new ways to sell books. Now's the time to line up print, radio, TV, and Internet interviews.

1. Implement special sales and innovative merchandising techniques.

2. Follow up on prime reviewers to be sure they received books.

3. Develop an “Available for Interview" sheet.

4. Contact local media for interviews and stories.

5. Expand your media focus to include regional print, radio, and TV.

6. Ask enthusiastic readers to write customer reviews for the book at and

7. Pursue reviews, excerpts, and book sales on various Internet sites.

8. Be constantly on the lookout for new review sources and sales opportunities.

9. Consider giving lectures and/or seminars as promotional vehicles.

VII. After a Successful First Printing

Time to decide whether you want to reprint your book or offer it to a trade publisher.

1. Add favorable reviews to the book cover or first page.

2. Revise the copyright page and correct any typos.

3. Revise, update, and/or expand the book as needed.

4. Review the back-page order form for price or other changes.

5. Get reprinting quotes on a second printing or —

6. Offer the book to major trade publishers.

In all you do, much success. You can make it happen!

© Copyright 2005 Marilyn Ross

Marilyn and Tom Ross are the coauthors of 13 books including the best-selling Complete Guide to Self-Publishing and the award-winning Jump Start Your Book Sales. Through phone consultations and ongoing coaching/mentoring, Marilyn empowers authors and self-publishers to realize their dreams. She can be reached at 719-395-8659 or

Visit for free meaty information on writing, self-publishing, and book marketing strategies.


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