Expert: Claudia Jackson
Pilots use checklists for pre-flight and pre-landing operations. A checklist helps keep a pilot focused, remember important details and most importantly help them make good decisions to prevent simple errors that might otherwise lead to disaster.
In order for your book get a great take-off you need a checklist. Keep in mind however, that there is no magic formula. Every book, like different aircraft make and model, will need it’s own unique checklist or plan.
To start any planning process, you must first take a realistic view of where you and your book are today. Complete an honest situational assessment of your book. Is it really ready for the physical publishing process to begin? Have you had your manuscript edited, proofread? Are all of the typos out of it? Does it have that polish that only editing can bring? What resources (both financial and personal time and effort) do you have to dedicate towards the publishing, and most importantly, the marketing of the book? Once you have completed the assessment, you can begin to develop a plan of where you want your book to go and how you can best get it there.
You need to make a detailed list of all of the action items and supporting steps that need to be accomplished along the route of your eBook’s flight. Be as detailed as possible. The following list is just a guide to help you to get started. Don’t be afraid to add to the list or replace tasks as you go. The final list of tasks to be completed will be several times longer than the initial list you create. The following will help you start thinking…
• Story Complete
• Manuscript Edited
• The Cover Concept
• Best eBook platform
• Format the eBook myself or hire an author services company?
• Book Pricing
• Social Networking Plan and Marketing Plan
Story Complete & Manuscript Edited
This cannot be emphasized enough, no matter how well you write, you still need an editor for your book and it should NOT be you. You are too close to the story. You have looked at it again and again. If you want the best for your book, hire a professional editor.
The eBook cover is going to be one of the most important decisions you make about your ebook. It is the first thing a buyer sees when searching for a book to read. Does it stand out from the crowd in your genre? Compare it with the “competition.” Does the cover get the reader’s attention? Will the cover look good as a thumbnail? Does it look good in color and black and white? Is the cover overly detailed? Does your cover make a statement? Will the reader immediately form a concept about the book by looking at the cover? Keep it simple; make an impact. Special thanks to Steven M. Roth, author of “Mandarin Yellow” for permission to use book his ebook cover as a sample in this article.
Best eBook Platform
Is your book best suited for the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad? All eReaders? If your book is general fiction(perhaps a mystery or romance novel) then the manuscript is well suited for all platforms. However, if it is a childrens book or graphic novel, would your book present best on the iPad as a “Fixed Layout EPUB?” Or, would a standard color EPUB suffice?
DIY or Hire?
Some authors can format the book, design the cover, and publish the book themselves. Do you have the time? Do you have the skill set? Perhaps you have the skill set, but don’t have the time. There are countless resources on the internet that provide guidance and instructions for the DIY author with the tenacity to see it through.
There are author services companies available that can do the formatting, cover design and upload your book for you. How to find out about them? Ask around, get references, take your time and most importantly, research your prospective partner. It is important to note that when hiring an author services company that you carefully read the services agreement. Do they keep a percentage of your royalties? Do you retain your “publishing” rights? Are the files that they create on your behalf (your book files, covers and interior) your property?
Have you considered a book pricing strategy? Look at the books already for sale in your genre. Is your book non-fiction? Pricing for non-fiction is usually different than fiction. Perhaps you want to run a “special introductory price” for your book.
Have you planned a website for your book or subject matter? Will the website be about you, the author? Or will it be a website that provides information while building you as a brand? Does the site give value to the reader, making them want to come back for more? For example, if you are publishing a book on cooking, your website could provide tips and tricks for menu planning. Your readers need a reason to return to your site again and again.
Social Networking & Marketing Plan
New social networks and author sites are showing up every day. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Digg, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Blogs, Amazon Author Central, etc., how can one possibly keep up? Not to mention that your website should have the optimum SEO (Search Engine Optimization) capability. You need to reach your audience using the most efficient tools possible. Find a technology tool that will help you get this job done. Create a list of the social sites that you believe are important. Remember, you are looking to connect with your readers, form relationships and build a following.
Revisit and Revise
Do not be afraid to continually update your plan. Things change within the market, your personal situation and the publishing industry. Divide your checklist into smaller subtasks continually revising the difficult areas to achieve your goals or actions. Completing a selection of smaller goals will give you a greater feeling of accomplishment. Continually look at the plan against the goals that you are trying to accomplish and adjust the action steps as needed.
Happy Landings! Claudia (a.k.a. “NovelHelp”)
With over 20 years of experience as a corporate computer trainer and consultant, Claudia is a partner at Telemachus Press. Also known as “NovelHelp,” she writes “how-to” tutorials and blogs to educate authors about self-publishing. Visit her website at http://www.NovelHelp.com and follow Claudia on Twitter – @novelhelp