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A Self-Publishing Checklist: Take Your Story From Start to Finish

Have you decided to self-publish your work? Congratulations! There’s nothing quite like the excitement of seeing your hard work be turned into a published work. If you’re thinking about self-publishing or you’re curious to know what steps are next on your journey, these self-publishing checklist can help you make sure that all of your composition, editorial, production, and distribution chores have been completed.

These steps are intended to be taken in order. Check each item off this printable list as it is completed and then move onto the next step.


______ Meet daily writing goal until the manuscript is completed.

______ Write your story based on expected formatting guidelines [double-spaced, specific font, etc.]

______ Save file locally and onto a flash drive to avoid an unexpected loss each day.

______ Request feedback from trusted friends over portions of your story for recommended changes.

Editing and Production

______ Research and finalize your title and any needed subtitle.

______ Write your book description and back cover copy.

______ Have the final manuscript professionally edited. [2-4 weeks]

______ Determine cover design. Write creative briefs on design as necessary.

______ Hire graphic designer to create cover design. [2-4 weeks]

______ Review the final edit to eliminate any outstanding issues. [2 weeks]

______ Finalize and approve cover design.

______ Create design element list for book interior.

______ Send final designs to interior designer. [2-4 weeks]

______ Write your author bio, book dedication, and any acknowledgments.

______ Review designed pages. Adjust as necessary. [1-2 weeks]

______ Complete final cover design, including spine and back cover. [1-2 weeks]

______ Send final files to indexer as necessary.

______ Create EPUB/MOBI files. [1-2 weeks].

______ Determine how many formats you wish to have. [Hardcover, paperback, trade paperback, etc.]

______ Purchase and assign ISBNs as needed.

______ Create a trade-ready EAN Bookland Barcode for back cover.

______ Obtain copyright registration if desired.

______ Proofread final files in all formats. [1-2 weeks]

______ Select your publisher for book printing and binding requirements.

Sales and Marketing

______ Select your book launch date.

______ Determine your distributor and what duties will be required of them.

______ Purchase copies of your new book to send out to professional critics for review.

______ Purchase website based on your name or the name of your book.

______ Create an e-commerce solution on your site for people to purchase your book.

______ Identify awards opportunities or contests in which your book may qualify for exposure.

______ Contact local bookstores to schedule book signing events.

______ Speak with all local writing clubs to discuss public speaking arrangements.

______ Send out book copies to print media for potential book reviews.

______ Setup book inventories, order processing, fulfillment, and other duties in this area.

______ Consider any advertising desired for the book and public relations support as needed.

Why Is a Self-Publishing Checklist Necessary?

When you’re doing all of this work on your own as a writer, it can be very easy to have one of these tasks slip through the cracks. Or worse – you might wind up approving your final page proofs without a word-for-word review of them to make sure any bothersome typos have been completely eliminated. It’s nice to have world peace, after all, instead of world piece – right?

Is Everything On This Self-Publishing Checklist?

This self-publishing checklist should be treated as a generic list. There will always be specific items that must be added to this list based on a writer’s needs, the publisher’s needs, or sales and marketing issues that may come up. Some writers might want to print up posters of the cover of their book as a promotional tool. Others might want to print extra copies of their book to sell at local stores. There are just far too many variables possible to include every single item that might come up.

Is Self-Publishing Right For Me?

Self-publishing may not be right for every author. It requires a monetary investment without a guaranteed return. It means spending extra time establishing a network of community contacts to get word out about your book. It means creating your own business identity so you can sell books and fulfill orders on your own. Not every writer enjoys this part of the business, which makes it difficult for them to get their work noticed.

This self-publishing checklist can help you make sure you don’t miss critical steps in the process at the beginning, middle, or end of the process. Print it out for your project, check off each item, and you’ll be able to know that you’re well on your way.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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