Publishing Checklist

I built this for myself as a checklist for things to make sure and get done with every book release. With everything I’ve learned from this amazing group, I thought a concise list would help me, and then anyone else who wanted to use it, hit as many of the “must do” things before a book releases.


Publishing Checklist:

  1. Finish the book.
    1. Put it away for a week, let it rest.
    2. Send to beta readers for feedback
    3. Write Promo
      1. Blurb
      2. Tagline,
      3. Synopsis

  1. Plan/schedule Editing services for Book (Can be done when book is ¾ finished)
    1. Primary or favorite editor
    2. Other options
    3. Be sure to send it in by that date.


  1. Schedule Cover Art for the book
    1. Have solid title
    2. Have solid series title
    3. Select stock art


  1. Plan/schedule a release date
    1. Double check where it will come out around other books and how it falls into the calendar.
    2. Check for Pre-order time frame, and adapt release date to fit that.
      1. Want to have book completely finished and ready to go to put up the preorder stuff.
        1. Some choose to put up a dummy file here so they have a file in place by the preorder deadline. See Jessie’s post about using pre-orders with Amazon


  1. Plan/schedule advertising for the book
    1. Create a BUDGET for advertising and stick to it.
    2. Create 3-5 Facebook ad banners for book and/or book series
      1. Get proper sizes — double check sizes of already made stuff
      2. New stock art if necessary
        1. Watch for stock art site sales.
      3. Contact multiple sites for advertising depending on budget (Aside from Bookbub, most of these are reasonably priced for their services.)
        1. Book Bub
        2. My Romance Reads
        3. Facebook party event.
        4. The Romance Studio
        5. Fiverr
        6. Book sends (formerly Book blast)
        7. E Reader News
        8. The Fussy Librarian
        9. Bargain Booksy (or Freebooksy, depending on your marketing stratagy)
          1. Double check on loop/website for listings


  1. Contact ARC readers about reading the new release
    1. Give them plenty of lead time to get the book reviewed.
      1. 30-40 days so far seems long enough (this is good for my people, you may have a different time frame for yours)
    2. Make sure they will get their reviews up on the release day.


  1. Plan/schedule the release day Newsletter.
    1. Do a pre-release pimping of the newsletter to maximize reach before the release.
      1. I always like to plug my newsletter just before I do a blast, to get some last minute signups.
    2. Build release newsletter campaign including exclusive excerpt
      1. This is also a nice incentive to get new signups. (Sign up and you’ll be the first to see the latest excerpt/cover art/etc for my stuff!)


  1. Get website up to date with new book
    1. Use “Coming Soon” graphic until the cover art comes in
    2. Make a “book page” for the book,
      1. Blurb,
      2. Excerpt
      3. Buy links
      4. Etc
    3. Update main page as needed to promote new book
      1. Double check website and older pages, make sure all the pages “match” as far as links, etc.
    4. Get Blog page made with links and excerpts of book


  1. Get Book edits back
    1. Make changes
    2. Resubmit if possible. (depends on your editor and the arrangement)
    3. Make changes
    4. Resubmit if possible. If not, have a trusted set of eyes to look at it again.
      1. The more eyes you can put on it to check for typos, the better.
  1. Do a Cover Reveal
    1. On Blog
    2. On Other’s blogs to promote
    3. FB Boosted post
    4. Newsletter — maybe do this a few days before the public reveal?
      1. Pimp the “sneak peak” for additional Newsletter signup incentives.
  1. Do a final read through, back to front. Looking for typos, screw ups, any particular problems in the book
    1. Check with Betas, see if anyone found any possible problems in the story that can be addressed before formatting.
    2. Make sure all ties are connected/no loose ends that aren’t supposed to be there.
  • ALSO BE WORKING ON NEW PROJECTS — HITTING WORD COUNT IN OTHER BOOKS. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Can’t publish a new book later, if you don’t have one written!


For Traditionally published books

  1. Get all edits done and in on time.
  2. Final ARCs/Galleys for ebook and Print turned in ASAP.
  3. Cross-check release date with self-pubbed releases (while this date is not flexible, the self pubbed are, so make sure everything lines up nicely.
    1. Calender is my friend
  4. Check advertisers, make sure everyone who needs it has ARCs.
  5. Check/advise reader/reviewers when book goes on Net Galley (if publisher uses it)

For any book:

  1. Reach out to reviewers/bloggers about ARC copies
    1. Google docs sign up sheet can be quite effective
  2. Reach out to reviewers/bloggers for promo slots
    1. Possibly add to google doc sign up form a spot to allow promo


Format book for publication.

    1. Make sure all edits are done and it is as perfect as possible.
      1. Style specific format –Smashwords has a great model of formatting to use as a base, and you can tweak their advice to your own preferences.
      2. If you choose to upload a word document to Amazon or your digital hub (like Smashwords or D2D), make sure you have the formatting perfect. Again, the Smashwords formatting guidelines PDF is very helpful.
    2. Import into Scrivener (If you choose to format into Epub or Mobi before uploading to vendors)
      1. Separate single document into chapters
      2. Label each chapter accordingly
    3. Front matter
      1. Copyright page
      2. Title page
      3. Cover Art
      4. Mini blurb
    4. Back matter (Keep this tight–the fewest pages possible — no reader likes to think they have 50 more pages, and find out it’s just promo)
      1. “Thank you Reader” page w/ newsletter sign up and review request
      2. Blurbs/taglines of other books in the series (depends on length & number of titles)
      3. Excerpt of next book in series and buy link to next book if applicable
      4. “Also by the author” page
      5. Any cross promo marketing (other writers with similar series/if belongs in a collection, etc)
    5. Compile Mode (for Scrivener formatting)
      1. Make sure all titles are centered
      2. Replace all # scene breaks with something prettier — ~~*~~ or some such
      3. Make sure first page of each chapter starts at the top of the page.
      4. Possibly don’t indent first line of every new chapter???
    6. Convert to Epub version.
      1. Can be used to upload to Amazon in this mode.
      2. Sideload to a personal device (tablet, Nook, whatever) and preview/read through.
        1. Double check for any typos/formatting issues
          1. Correct any problems and update the file.
          2. Repeat these steps as necessary to make sure the book is as flawless as possible.


Book SHOULD BE FINISHED at this point.

  1. Upload finished book to Kindle and D2D.
    1. Double check with editors and cover artists to see if they want contribution credits on the book page.
      1. Editor credit
      2. Cover Artist Credit
  1. Set up for Pre-Order
    1. Set Pricing (splits subject to change)
      1. Amazon split: 30% of $2.98 and lower
      2. Amazon Split: 70% of $2.99 and up
      3. Barnes and Noble Split: 40% on $2.98 and lower
      4. Barnes and Noble Split: 65% on $2.99 and above
      5. Kobo Split: 45% of $1.98 and lower
      6. Kobo Split: 70% of $1.99 and higher
      7. D2D Split — They take 10% of your commission
  1. Select Excerpts for the book
    1. One for Amazon/Barnes, etc.
    2. One for Website (Entire first chapter???)
    3. One for FB
    4. One for Newsletter exclusive
    5. One for Blog
  1. Manically obsess over the rankings during the entire pre order process.
  1. Start pre-order advertising (⅓ marketing budget)
    1. Boosted FB posts,
    2. Ad sets
    3. Write several blog posts about the book
    4. Look into a bit of a blog tour to encourage talk about book
    5. Art/Celeb inspiration for characters
    6. Fun scenes
    7. Any news articles that somehow tie into the story’s theme/idea
  1. Set up/figure out possible contest for release
  1. Physical advertising (⅓ of advertising budget ~ if ebook only, this can be eliminated if budget is tight)
    2. Rack cards/post cards
    3. Other swag
  1. Lose mind as you obsess about the release.
    1. Drink wine. A lot.
    2. Buy extra wine — Wine in a Box most economical
  1. Prepare Newsletter Release blast
  1. Prepare Twitter Release Blast — schedule posts
    1. Use Bitly or Booklinker to create small links that are traceable for tweets/FB
    2. See who can help spread the word
    3. ARC Team
  1. Prepare/set up Facebook Advertising campaign
    1. Use premade book links
  1. Make sure to take Release Day off work
    1. Some kind of giveaway/contest/interactive thing for release day.
    2. Twitter/Facebook promos
    3. Nag ARC team again about review postings
  1. Take release week off of writing next project.
    1. Won’t be able to focus anyway.
    2. Drink Wine. And Margaritas.
    1. Don’t.
  1. Update online website Booklist and Press Kit (rtf & pdf versions)
    1. Update bio if needed.


After release day:

Watch vendor sales, and consider possible sales connected with nearby holidays.

  1. Adjust marketing and advertising to work with what works best for book.
  1. DON’T PANIC if there’s a typo. Fix it, re-upload.
    1. It’ll be okay.
    2. Really.
    3. Have some chocolate. It will be okay. 🙂
  1. Go back to writing — you can’t stare at your rankings all day, every day. But you will try. So have something else to focus on.
  1. Figure out some promotions that tie into your book, check with fellow author friends to see who’s doing some kind of promotion or set one up yourself with friends.
    1. Groups of authors working together get better results than just a singular author on your own. If five people get together and do a little “sale weekend” or something, you all will do better in the long run
  1. And keep moving forward! Always!


Candice Gilmer

About the Author

Candice Gilmer

Romance author Candice Gilmer leads a dangerous double life as a mommy and a writer. Between writing and family, she plays on Pinterest and takes pictures of her growing collection of Funko Pop dolls, because, well, she's a fan girl too.

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