Monday, July 16, 2012

The Indie Book Release Day Checklist

Since I've just gone through the process of releasing the seventh book through my small press, I thought it might be fun to share the deadlines and check points that lead up to a release of a new title. For authors who are going through this process for the first time, it can be a surprise that there is so much involved.

6 months to release date
  • Finish a solid draft of the book.
  • Send to early beta readers and ask for it back within a month.

While beta readers have the book
  • Write initial blurb copy (summary sales copy for the retailer sites).
  • Search stock art sites for possible cover photographs or find an illustrator.
  • Decide if you are doing a print-on-demand version with the release or just digital ebook.
  • Determine if you will join the Amazon Select program and be exclusive to the Kindle or if you will release to all the major retailers at once.

5 months to release
  • Give yourself a month to consider feedback and do revisions. If they are substantial, push back your release date.
  • If you are looking close, get on a copy editor's schedule. Most need a month or two notice.
  • Get on the schedule for the cover artist, if s/he's a popular one (mine requires three month's notice.)

4 months to release
  • Send your draft to a copy editor. (The price ranges between $150 to $900.)
  • Schedule a blog tour by tracking down blogs yourself or hiring a tour guide. (Mine requires two months' notice.)
  • Ask an author or two to write endorsement blurbs for your book.
  • Forward art ideas to your cover designer, or start tinkering yourself (I highly recommend you hire someone if you are not a graphic artist. The price ranges from $50 to $800--most are about $100.)
  • If you are having someone design your POD interior, get on their schedule. (Price ranges from $75 to $1200--most are around $150.)
  • If you are having someone format your ebook, get on their schedule. (Price ranges from $25 to $100.)
  • Note: Some designers offer full packages of cover, POD wraparound, interior, and ebook. (This is most often $300 or so.)

3 months to release
  • Get your copy-edited draft back and review changes.
  • Send the file to authors who agreed to write endorsements.
  • Finalize your sales summary paragraph and try it out on readers, friends, and people sitting next to you in restaurants.
  • Set up accounts at Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple, or wherever you've decided to distribute, if this your first book.
  • Determine if you will use retailer ISBNs or buy your own block from Bowker. Buy ISBNs if needed.
  • Once you have an ISBN, apply for a Precontrol Number through the Library of Congress. They won't do a CIP data block for an indie with one book, but they will let you participate in the PCN program so that if libraries do end up with your book, you can get a data block later. This is optional, but I always do it. About thirty libraries carry my books now and I will be eligible for straight-to-CIP soon.
  • Decide on your price for ebook and POD. (Usually $2.99 to $8.99 ebook and $9.95 to $18.95 POD.)
  • Begin posting about your release and tour. Offer the ebook file to reviewers.

2 months until release
  • Finalize your cover.
  • Send cover and copy-edited book to the ebook formatter.
  • Gather your author endorsements and send this to cover designer for back cover if doing POD.
  • Send the POD interior to the designer.

1 month until release
  • Send book out to reviewers as soon as you get it back.
  • Write guest posts for your blog tour, if you are doing one. Otherwise blog yourself.
  • Upload final POD to CreateSpace (or Lightning Source, if you've gone that route) so you can get proof in and approved.
  • Join Goodreads and set up a give away of your book if you have done a POD. The book will need to be listed on Amazon to do this, but if you've approved your POD through CreateSpace, it should be there. Lightning Source will take another week after proof approval.
  • If you are using Smashwords, go ahead and get it in the system. It will go live early at, but you still have a month or more before it will go to all the other sites. (They have taken as long as three months this year to distribute to iTunes, BN, Kobo, Sony.)

2 weeks until release
  • Order a few copies of your final POD for give aways on blogs and Goodreads.
  • Remind reviewers that you will forward links where to post reviews when book is released. (Indies don't get to pre-release like the traditional houses do. It's for sale when it goes up.)
  • If you are using iTunes Direct for the first time, go ahead and send your ebook. It may take them a week or more to approve your first book.
  • Post teasers to your blog and prepare release day posts to be published once you have live links.

2 days until release
  • Upload your book to and Your book will go live within a day on these sites.
  • Blog and use social media for your release as soon as you have links.
  • Send live links to the earlier reviewers for them to post reviews.

Within a week of release
  • Mail off your copy to Library of Congress and to the Copyright Office.
  • If you are doing Amazon Select, schedule your first free run and begin notifying web sites of the promotion. I do recommend waiting until you have at least five reader reviews.
  • Set up your Amazon Author Central account and claim your book. Add an author photo, write a pithy author bio, and link to your blog or Twitter accounts.
Don't get complacent! Books do not move on their own. The best marketing is one you already enjoy doing (Social Media, blogging, going to festivals, writing articles).


Deanna Roy is the author of Baby Dust and Stella & Dane, interrelated books on the hardships of finding love and building a family.