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17 Crucial Things Authors Forget to Do When Self-Publishing

This is a guest post by Shayla Eaton. Shayla is the president of Curiouser Editing and a connoisseur of the writing and editing process, having edited over two hundred books and countless articles, blogs, social media posts, and web copy. She is the author of The Curiouser Crusade and the Pre-Publishing Checklist.

Choosing to self-publish your book means you’re in control of the process. But like Ben Parker said to Spider-Man: “With great self-publishing comes great responsibility.” Or, you know, something like that.

Self Publishing

With great self-publishing comes great responsibility. (Click to Tweet)

Don’t overlook these must-haves when self-publishing your book:

1. Check to see if your book title already exists

There are pros and cons to finding that your book title already exists. I believe the con is obvious, but the pro? Some authors use it as a smart marketing tool, because when a potential buyer searches for your competitor’s book title, he’ll find yours as well.

2. Set up an email address for marketing purposes

From signing up for social media platforms to setting up an account with CreateSpace, you’ll want an email address specifically for marketing purposes rather than using your personal address. Pro tip: Don’t use AOL or Hotmail.

3. Add an email signature with website and social media information

This is easy to do: just go to your email settings and craft your signature’s content. You can even add URLs so people can click on over to your book’s website or subscribe to your newsletter.

4. Prepare a promo kit

You’ll need a long and short book summary, a long and short bio, a tagline for your book, and a professional headshot. You’ll have all of this ready to go in your promo folder for when you reach out to bloggers.

5. Gather endorsements

Try to get endorsements from well-known figures who either write in your genre or relate to it somehow. These endorsements will go in the front matter of your book and can also be used for marketing on social media and your website.

Click here to see the stellar endorsement Bryan Hutchinson received for Writer’s Doubt from 21 times New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. He’s using the endorsement to lead his book’s page on his website and on Amazon.

6. Get your ISBN

If you’re printing with CreateSpace, they’ll handle this for you with a free ISBN or paid ones. But if you’re not using a print-on-demand company and are using a local printer instead, you’ll want to purchase your ISBN. I recommend Bowker.

7. Check the licenses of typefaces

Make sure you or the designer has the right to use certain fonts. Pro tip: Tell your formatter what fonts you used, because they might not be visible during the transfer.

8. Get a book trailer

Hey, who says movies are the only ones who get trailers? A book trailer is a modern, engaging way to tell your friends and potential readers about your book.

9. Set up Amazon Author Central page

When you publish your book on Amazon, you’ll want to go here to create the Amazon Author Central page so people can learn more about you—the author. You can link your Twitter page, blog feed, and book trailer on this page. Your future books will show up here too.

10. Write a sample author Q&A

Surely you didn’t think you’d publish a book without an interview or two, right? Craft a sample author Q&A for bloggers and podcasters to use when promoting or reviewing your book.

11. Tease your social media followers with snippets of your book

Your followers are the fish, and your bookish quotes are the bait. Hook them and reel them in. Copy and paste your book quotes into Canva to create high-quality promotional photos.

12. Throw an online launch party

It’s best if someone other than the author hosts this party and it can be done on Facebook. The host will create an event and invite people to the party. There will be giveaways and contests and lots of online sharing about your book.

13. Get in touch with your community

Why do so many authors forget about their local library? Libraries love to promote their own local authors, so talk to them about donating your book or planning a book signing there. You can also publish a press release about your town’s local author (ahem—that’s you) whose book comes out in two weeks!

You can get local bookstores and coffee shops involved. If you’re smart, you’ll host a Night on the Town with a local shopping center, where customers can get raffle tickets, food, freebies, and a signed copy of your book.

14. Add your book on Goodreads

You would be surprised how many authors forget to do this. Users can shelve your book to read for later, update their progress while reading, and review your book after completing it.

15. Brand yourself using photo apps

What are the colors of your book cover? The fonts? The style? Choose a photo app to create a brand that relates to your book, then post the images on social media.

16. Get a contract with your editor

If your editor is a professional, then he or she will have this ready for you. It will outline what the editor will do to your book, the tentative deadline, and how much it will cost. Sadly, too many newbie authors forget about the contract and get themselves into trouble when the editor doesn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain.

17. Form your citations properly

Can we please talk about the sheer terror that overcomes me when I see sloppy (and sometimes nonexistent) citations in a nonfiction manuscript? Here’s a fast rundown and a great tip on crafting citations in under two minutes.

What did I miss? What are some things authors forget to cross off their list when self-publishing? Share in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins



  • Awesome info, I’ll be back!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thanks for reading, Bradley! Definitely subscribe, because Bryan has some amazing tips for writers.
      —Shayla Eaton

  • S. R.

    These are really incredible tips. I wish I had thought of even half of them when I self published!

    • Curiouser Editing

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for reading.
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Stephanie Jones

    As someone who is working on a self-published book, this list is extremely helpful. Thanks!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you for reading, Stephanie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck on your book!
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Oh, that note on font – now that’s something I haven’t thought of before. Thanks, Shayla.

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you for reading, Andi! #themoreyouknow
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Love this list! It’s easy to miss action items with everything that’s involved with self-publishing! I love #15 about branding – I’ve been using it for Instagram and have been quite surprised with the response!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you so much for reading, Angela! Yes, brand yourself—such an important tool for publishing success.
      —Shayla Eaton

  • This list is great!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Jennilyn, thank you for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Such a valuable list – and… a Spider Man quote?! Love it! Thank you, Shayla and Bryan!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thanks for marveling at my words, Mike! (Did ya see what I did there?)
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Brandy Lidbeck

    Thanks for the list. Printing it now!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Brandy, thank you for reading. If you’d like the complete 35-page Pre-Publishing Checklist, be sure to check out our resources page: http://www.curiouserediting.com/resources/
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Thank you Shayla and Bryan,
    I am printing out your list and doing everything you say.

    How do I find out if I have the right to use certain fonts on a book cover? I am formatting my book in InDesign, and using Century Gothic Bold on the cover. I found the web-site,
    myfonts.com. But it doesn’t say anything about print.

    Can you recommend another place to look?


    • Curiouser Editing

      Pamela, thank you for reading! Some fonts won’t require a license, like Century Gothic Bold, for example. But let’s say you wanted to use a font you found on dafonts.com: you’d have to make sure it’s public domain, and not a font that you have to pay for to get the license from the designer (unless your budget allows for that).
      If you’d like the complete 35-page Pre-Publishing Checklist, be sure to check out our resources page: http://www.curiouserediting.com/resources/
      —Shayla Eaton

      • Shayla,
        You are so kind. Of course I subscribed to your blog. 🙂 I am excited to read your Pre-Publishing Checklist.

        • Curiouser Editing

          I hope you enjoy it. There’s a short free version with subscription; it’s the Marketing Edition. The complete Pre-Publishing Checklist can be found at that link for $2.99. Thank you again, Pamela! Best of luck to you in your bookish endeavors.

  • Timothy Hucks

    This list is one of those things that either makes you say “whew, I did a couple of those things” or makes you shit your pants.

    • Curiouser Editing

      Hahahaha! Oh, that’s hilarious. Thanks for reading, Timothy! Hopefully, you killed it and won’t need a new pair of pants. But in case you do, check out our resources page. We even have a complete 35-page Pre-Publishing Checklist: http://www.curiouserediting.com/resources/
      —Shayla Eaton

      • Timothy Hucks

        Thanks! I can’t wait to read it!

  • Ralph Edwards

    Very practical Shayla. Love this!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you for reading, Ralph!
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Scott

    Very wise! You can tell that Shayla knows where the rubber meets the road! No smoke blowing. Real, practical…IMPORTANT!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you, Scott! So glad you enjoyed the post.
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Seattle_bound

    Great article, Brian. Short concise and to the point – the way busy people like them !

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed my post and I hope you’ll share it with your friends.
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Jay Hinkelman

    Throwing an online launch party isn’t something I would have thought of on my own. Neither is the typeface licensing issue! (Although many of the typefaces I use are open-license or open-source.) So I’m definitely bookmarking this to review again later.

    Shayla, if you have moment, I’d like to hear more about the “photo app” because I’m not 100% sure what you’re referring to. Once you’ve chosen design features for your book, such as fonts and color schemes, shouldn’t any decent photo or graphics app work?

    • Curiouser Editing

      Jay, thank you for reading! Basically, here’s what I meant: once you have a design that complements your book (color, font, tone, etc.), then you can use an app like Canva to keep it consistent when publishing posts on social media. A good example is my friend Kelsey Humphreys: if you visit her Facebook page, all of her photos are a specific color of blue (that matches her book), so when I’m scrolling through Facebook, I immediately know it’s her content without looking at her name. That’s her brand working for her. And yes, you can use any photo app to design your social media photos—I just prefer Canva. Did that help to answer your question?
      —Shayla Eaton

      • Jay Hinkelman

        Yes, absolutely – thank you!

  • Rose – The Center of My Self

    Such wonderful tips; many are things that I wouldn’t have known. I follow Curiouser Editing and I learn so many useful things through Shayla. She’s very generous in sharing her knowledge to help others. I also highly recommend her Pre-Publishing Checklist, which includes many of these tips and more.

    • Curiouser Editing

      Rose, thank you for reading! Of course, you know how much I value your expertise, loyal support, and friendship.
      —Shayla Eaton

  • Perfect list! And timely too. 3 and 7? Oh so much to do! 11 and 15 are my fav’s. Thanks Shayla and Brian.

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you so much for reading, Maureen. Guess what? There are quite a few more to check off the list. 😉 If you go to our resources page, you can find the complete 35-page Pre-Publishing Checklist for only $2.99. Best of luck on your bookish endeavors! http://www.curiouserediting.com/resources/
      —Shayla Eaton

      • Shayla-thanks much. Yes, of course there are! Ha ha. The writing is the easy part. I’ll check out your book. 🙂

  • This is a great guide, Shayla. I would just add that this list is almost the same for authors going the Traditional publishing route! Even if you’re being published by one of the major houses, you still have to do most of these things. So it’s great for aspiring writers to begin many of them now!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Hi, Susan! Thank you so much for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Many of our readers have said the same thing—that this has helped them through the traditional publishing process as well. If you would like the complete 35-page Pre-Publishing Checklist, be sure to visit our resources page. http://www.curiouserediting.com/resources

  • Angle

    nice tips for publishing ebook and more things for creating & planning for publishing…


  • Sunith Suri

    Thank you very much for sharing. Once you have a design that complements your book (color, font, tone,
    etc.), then you can use an app like Canva to keep it consistent when
    publishing posts on social media.
    Can you comment on e-books?
    Ex: http://yourdost.com/blog/category/ebooks

  • B.V. Kingsley

    It’s incredibly important to make sure that you’re title isn’t already being used… I would suggest also getting the book copyrighted… What’s your opinions on that?

    • Curiouser Editing

      It is not possible under current U.S. law to copyright or protect an idea. (You also cannot copyright a title.) I don’t recommend sending it in for copyright, but I do highly recommend this post by the queen of publishing, Jane Friedman: https://janefriedman.com/idea-theft/