Official Website for Fantasy Author E.L. Lyons
When I first started considering publishing and then self-publishing with print on demand, it seemed very simple. You write the book, edit the book, slap a cover on it, publish the book, and tell people about it… right? That’s only like five things! Easy peasy lemon squeezy yeah? Not really. In all the research I did, I really didn’t find anything that detailed the specific steps within each of those five steps. Nothing gave me an idea of the prices or processes involved. Part of me is thankful for that, because I’m not sure I’d have stuck with it if I knew everything involved and the cost. I didn’t have that much faith in myself, my finances, or my book. Over the course of the process, I’ve realized that I’m more capable than I thought, and it’s been worth it. Still, things would’ve gone more smoothly if I’d had a roadmap. So I created one for others who may be just starting their journey.
Following is a self-publishing checklist for how to get started with your first book, and second is a checklist for subsequent books. After that I’ll review some of the costs involved like I did in my self-publishing vs traditional post.
Keep in mind that no one’s self-publishing journey is going to be the same. If you’re considering this, you’re probably a DIYer, a creative control freak, a be-my-own-boss type. That usually translates to wanting to do some things the hard way. We all have skills, and your skillset will determine when and if you’re going to take shortcuts and which ones. Also worth noting that this has items specific to the fantasy genre like maps.
One step that I skipped that I shouldn’t have was getting ARC readers. I didn’t anticipate the importance of having those honest and detailed reviews up when you first launch.
Write First Draft
Edit First Draft to the best of your ability
Send first chapter to 1-3 alpha readers along with timeframe the feedback is needed in
Apply edits and see if there are concepts/edits you may need to apply to the rest of the book
If there are edits you can see to apply to the rest of the draft, apply them
Craft a questionnaire for beta readers to see what they understand/remember upon completion
Either send full and edited draft to 1-3 beta readers, or do chapter-by-chapter feedback to edit in real time. Be clear with timeframe and privacy expectations
Give them questionnaire upon completion
Apply feedback and edit first draft
Recreate questionnaire to address new issues brought up by beta readers and to ensure all problems were fully resolved
Send second draft to 1-3 beta readers
Edit based on feedback
Determine book trim size and page count, be sure to include front matter and back matter in your count
Download templates and requirements for hardcover, paperback, and ebook
Find a cover artist and have cover art created, get layers in addition to the art to better enable you in making media advertisements and promotional items like bookmarks.
Hire an artist to make frontispieces, maps, or character art
Format manuscript for ebook and print (Atticus)
Write a blurb, at least one short version and one long version. Keep in mind that Twitter has a character limit of 280 and that does not include all the fancy hashtags you’ll need.
Select short quotes from book for advertising
Create 1-paragraph character descriptions
Create a world description
Create 1-paragraph country/faction descriptions
Create an author bio, one in 1st person, one in 3rd person
Check your city, state, and country requirements for business licenses and pen names/DBAs
Acquire any licenses needed and determine how to sort your taxes if it is not required
Hire a graphic designer
Have graphic designer use all art pieces and info to make:
– Coming on ___ date ads
– Available now ads
– Regular ads
– Quote graphics
– Author plates
– Social media kit
– Cover final
– List of fonts used
Ensure Covers and Interiors are accepted by Print on Demand companies of choice
Order author proofs and make any needed changes
Buy a site domain
Determine a reasonable release date and put book up for preorder where possible
Find ARC readers and send copies
Begin social media pre-release advertising
Make a list of reviewers to offer free copies to
Contact reviewers and offer copies
Contact bloggers who offer author interviews and book blasts/tours
Add your Amazon author profile if using Amazon
Purchase your book using an account connected to GoodReads, and add the book on Goodreads
Claim the book on GoodReads and create your author profile
Begin Available Now ads
Create A+ Content for Amazon KDP
Update Website and Social media with links and “out now” content
Self-Publishing Checklist fo Subsequent Books!
Give blurbs, bio, character, country, world descriptions, and all graphic designer creations to web designer
Claim the book on GoodReads
Costs associated with First Publication have yet to be finalized, so don’t take this as a final receipt. I also got a lot of things for free that you might not be getting for free. Again, I can only give you information from my own experience.
Subscription to beta review exchange site – $69.95/year
City Business License – $41 initial (cost to renew?)
Domain names – $18.12/year
Hosting site – $59.98/year
First Book Costs (not including continuing costs):
Atticus (to write in and format book) – $117
Cover illustration – $375
Title font – $20
Author plate supplies – $28.87
Professionally printed author plates (cost of print only, designs were free) – $90
Author proofs – $50
Forest app for time management – $1.99
Author proofs – $53.85
Doing Business As (pen name) – $20
City Business License – $41
Publisher Rocket – $97 (my brother bought it for me though!)
This does not include the things I got for free or things that I might still be buying.
Cover design – Free
Map design – Free
Logo design – Free
Website design – Free
Social media marketing ads – Free
Frontispiece Illustration – Free
Proofreading – Free
Ads – ? (around $100 so far)
Book Reviewer Copies – ? (around $50 so far)
Book Giveaway Copies – ?
Copies for Family, Book + Packing Materials + Shipping – ? (around $80 so far)
This doesn’t include the money I wasted on things that didn’t work out like Scrivener and a few unhelpful writing self-help books.
The total is currently over $1000 for the first book.
What I expect to pay for in subsequent books:
Be sure to factor in what I’m likely getting for free next time too: cover design, ad design, proofreading.
As you can see, the costs start to add up pretty quickly. So determine your budget, ask your friends for help, and prioritize what you can.
Negative Reviews and authors’ bad behavior
Announcing my first author interview and talking a bit about social anxiety!
Self-publishing checklists for first book and subsequent books, along with costs..