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Self-Publishing and Marketing Timeline and Checklist

Many moving parts are associated with self-publishing, launching, and marketing a book. Organization is critical to successfully carrying out these efforts. A timeline and checklist can help us stay on track, alleviate stress, and avoid missing opportunities. We have created this Self-publishing and Marketing Timeline and Checklist to help you on your author journey. This document is just a sample; you will likely want to make adjustments to align with your plan.

Please note that we do not define all terms used in this document. For a more in-depth review of book marketing strategies, please see our article: Unlocking Success: 40+ Book Marketing Strategies for Self-Published Authors
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Sample page of the checklist
Google sheet version of the checklist.

Throughout the process–potentially starting years before publication

  • Network with other authors and industry professionals.

  • Make connections and build followings on social media platforms.

  • Make a study plan: Learn about writing, book marketing, and publishing.

Focusing efforts on your writing project

  • Start your business.

  • Perform market research to validate your book idea.

  • Create your marketing and publishing plan.

  • Make a budget.

Book Creation Stage

  • Choose a captivating title and subtitle.

  • Finish writing your book.

  • Do at least one self-edit.

  • Contact beta readers.

  • Hire a developmental editor.

  • Hire a line editor.

  • Hire a proofreader.

  • Choose the formats you will publish (ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio).

  • Select a size for your book.

  • Select a Print-on-Demand (POD) service.

  • Obtain ISBN(s) for each format and barcode(s) unless you don’t need any. ISBNs may be purchased at any time and later assigned to a book.

  • Format the interior.

  • Hire a book cover designer.

  • Write your book description blurb.

  • Consider doing A/B testing of a book cover, book blurb description, and ad copy. You can use social media, a paid service, or even digital advertising.

  • Finish the back matter and other parts of your book, such as marketing your other books, the Copyright page, the Title page, the Author bio, and the Author's contact information, including social media handles.

  • Copyright book. It is good practice to register copyright as soon as your book is published.

  • Order proofs.
     

AutoCrit* is a valuable tool for writing, organizing, and revising books, offering robust analysis to assist you in the self-editing process. integrates with Grammarly, a grammar, spelling, and basic editing tool.

6 months before book release

  • The cover design should be done.

  • Build a website or at least a landing page if you still need to get one.

  • Plan your email marketing strategy and integrate it with your website. Develop lead magnets and email list sign-ups.

  • Start preparing other marketing materials, such as

    • an author's headshot and other author photos

    • an author bio

    • a one-sheet

    • a press kit

    • a press release

    • ad copy

    • prewritten author Q & A

    • social media graphics

    • photos

    • artwork

    • design branded merchandise you will sell or give away, such as bookmarks, clothing, and mugs

    • a book trailer

    • a 3D book cover mockup

Printful* makes designing your brand's merchandise easy. Design T-shirts, mugs, totes, and other products you can sell on your website or at book launches, festivals, and other events.

4-6 months before book release

  • Set the release date for your book.

  • Start the process of obtaining editorial reviews. Send your book to anyone you would like an editorial from, such as other authors, book review websites, and bloggers in your genre.

  • Reach out to influencers and anyone with a platform you would like to be featured on.

  • Start building your ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) team. Track ARC team efforts with a spreadsheet.

  • Determine events you will do, if any, such as a launch party, signings, readings, speaking engagements, and podcasts.

  • Start planning events and checking for availability of venues and opportunities.

4 months before book release
  • Distribute ARCs to the media (newspapers, magazines, bloggers).

2-4 months before book release
  • Prepare audiobook, if applicable.

2-3 months before book release
  • Distribute press releases to reviewers, relevant blogs, and other media. Emphasize newsworthy aspects of your book and the author(s). Include positive editorial reviews.

  • Reveals of the book cover, release date, book description blurb, artwork, and preorder links (if applicable).

  • Goodreads giveaway. If you are doing one, Goodreads recommends running it for a month and ending it six weeks before your release date. Check out Goodreads' best practices for giveaways.

1-2 months before book release
  • List your book on Amazon and other online retailers, if applicable.

  • Optimize your Amazon book page for sales. We use Publisher Rocket* to help select categories and keywords on Amazon.

  • Social media posts: countdowns to release, early reviews, quotes from the book, artwork, and photos.

The month before book release
  • Send ARC copies to your ARC team, and you can also do ARC giveaways on social media.

  • Continue efforts on social media and email lists.

One week before the launch
  • Contact your ARC team to remind them about your book release.

  • Check Amazon keywords and categories to see if they should be adjusted.

Launch Day
  • Set up an Amazon author page once your book is live.

  • Set your launch day price. You might set your ebook price to free or $.99 and leave it there for 2-3 days.

  • Launch day announcement via email newsletters and social media.

  • Contact your ARC team to remind them to leave reviews.

  • Update author profiles and headers on social media to highlight your book (including Goodreads and Bookbub).

  • Update your website to announce to announce that your new book has been released.

  • Place links to buy your book on social media, your website, and anywhere else that makes sense.

  • Add your book to your email signature.

Launch Week
  • Give your book as much of a boost as possible during this time.

  • ARC team follow-up–contact your ARC team members who have not yet left a review.

  • Continue efforts on social media and email lists.

  • Increase the price of your book per your pricing strategy.

  • Order author copies of your books to bring them to events such as book signings, readings, or a launch party. You may also want to give some copies away to friends, family, influencers, or reviewers.

  • Register copyright if you haven’t yet.

During the 30 days after book release
  • Consider digital advertising: Amazon, Facebook, Bookbub, etc.

  • Consider free and paid book promotion sites.

  • Share early reviews, celebratory messages, and quotes from the book with your email list and on social media.

  • If you hit best seller status on Amazon, take a screenshot and share it in your marketing.

  • Email your list, asking those who have read your book to leave a review.

  • Attend and run planned events, such as launch parties, signings, readings, speaking engagements, and podcasts.

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1-3 months after the launch
  • Continue efforts on social media and email lists.

  • Consider digital advertising and book promotion sites. If you do digital advertising, monitor your metrics and adjust ad keywords regularly.

  • Continue attending events you have planned.

Disclosure: This document contains affiliate links (marked with an *). We may earn a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through these links.

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