Take Your Time: Self-Publishing Lesson #2I’m going to be very honest here. One of the reasons I self-publish is that I’m impatient. I don’t want to wait two years to see my book come into print.  I think that’s a fair reason to go it on my own.

BUT my impatience can also be a danger to me as an indie publisher because I can skip steps, hurry the process, and be so eager for the release that I neglect the content.

It’s never the end of the world because, in indie publishing, I can always go back and change things, upload a new file, adjust my description. But those changes can mean someone doesn’t get my book when they look for it, which isn’t ideal.

The Weeks Before Launch

It is possible to get a book into the world in a few days, if the text is done, but I don’t recommend it.  (Remember, I speak from experience.)  I have learned that I need at least 8 weeks to get a book into the world because I need to be sure these things are done:

  • I need to have beta readers give me feedback on the book – at least two weeks.
  • I need to have an editor review the text – 2-3 weeks, depending on the editor’s schedule.
  • I need to have a cover designer shape create the cover – 2-3 weeks, depending on the designer’s schedule.
  • I need to write (or have written – Bryan Cohen’s team is writing my copy for Charlotte and the Twelve) the copy for the back cover and retailer’s description spaces. – 2-3 weeks, depending on the copy writer’s schedule.
  • I need to get memes and quotes created – 1-2 weeks.
  • I need to have the files formatted for ebooks – 1-2 weeks, depending on the formatter’s schedule.
  • I need to upload the text and cover and proof them. – 1-2 weeks, depending on what I’m willing to pay for CreateSpace to ship me a print proof.

Some of these things, obviously, overlap in time, but I have found – here on book six – that two months lead is about the minimum I can have to get all these things in place without pushing my stress level beyond the point of healthy.

The Week of the Launch

The biggest thing I’ve learned in my five previous launches is that I CANNOT DO ANYTHING ELSE during launch week.  My stress level is too high and my list of to-dos too long for me to be reading client manuscripts that week, so I clear my schedule. Usually, this means I have to double-down both before and after the launch – my book sales don’t pay our bills yet – but it’s worth it for my mental health.

During this week, I need to:

  • Finalize the ebook and print proofs.
  • Load them to Amazon and Smashwords (although I’m thinking of slowly shifting to Draft2Digital as my book aggregator but am still weighing the costs and benefits of that decision).
  • Get launch team fired up and ready to post review on launch day.
  • Promote, promote, promote for that week and as long as possible – without being annoying – in the month to follow.
  • Check sales incessantly while eating potato chips, preferably salt and vinegar.

Each of these things always ends up taking more time than I had imagined, so I’ve finally learned to clear my schedule and just be ready to handle snafus, answer questions, and say a kabillion thank yous.

Learning from My Mistakes

In the past, I have rushed all of these steps – or as I said last week, I tried to take them on myself – and I’ve learned that hiring help (and then working really hard to make up that money in sales) and pacing myself are the two most crucial parts of launching a book.

I’m still figuring out the marketing processes that work for me, and I have a long way to go in that regard. But this time, I finally feel like I’m squaring away the publication process in a manner that feels genuine and manageable for me. . . and that alone is quite an achievement.

How about you? What about self-publishing timelines feels daunting or confusing? How can I help?  Leave a comment or question below, and I’ll either provide my own insight or point you toward someone who can help.