AuthorsGetLit: A self-publishing checklist from award-winning author, Jaq Hazell.

AuthorsGetLit is a series on This is Lit that focus on tips for authors, self-published or otherwise, from both bloggers and other authors.

Authors today are choosing self-publishing increasingly because of the autonomy it offers. But, it comes with its own set of troubles. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what you should do to get your book independently published? We hear you, and that’s why we have Jaq Hazell here to help you out.

Jaq’s books have won the Rubery Book Award – Book of the Year 2017, Carousel Aware Prize – Best Young Adult Book 2017, and been included in The Telegraph’s Best Crime Fiction of 2015 and shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction. Today, she’s giving all aspiring authors out there an easy self-publishing checklist to follow.


Self-publishing checklist

A friend recently asked my advice on self-publishing. After many years of writing, he feels ready to publish and wanted a brief outline of what self-publishing entails. Turning a manuscript into a purchasable product involves many stages but it’s really not as daunting as it might at first seem, and I hope this simple checklist offers a brief guide to what needs to be addressed.

1. Write book – seems obvious, but really there’s no point worrying about anything else until you have something that you feel happy to launch into the world.

2. Rewrite book – there’s always room for improvement.

cartoon-jam-jar3. Get feedback from a few trusted beta readers and consider further improvements.

4. When you feel ready commission an editor. There will be errors you have missed.

5. Commission a cover designer. A great cover will help sell your book. The website can put you in touch with designers. Alternatively, make a list of covers you like and check out who designed them. Many designers are easily contactable via their own websites.

6. Purchase ISBN numbers. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It’s a product identifier used by booksellers and libraries etc. You’ll need at least two, one for your ebook and one for your paperback version. If you’re publishing exclusively via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing you can get a free ISBN but you won’t be able to use this if you want to sell your books elsewhere.

7. Once you are happy with your editor’s suggested changes and these edits have been made, you need to format your book. For ebooks, you will need a .mobi file for Amazon KDP and an epub file for other retailers such as Apple iBooks, Kobo and Google etc. You will also need a print-ready pdf file for your paperback version. I use Scrivener to format ebooks and Adobe for pdfs.

8. For paperbacks do two versions: one via KDP or Createspace (for Amazon) and an Ingramspark version for bookshops and libraries.

9. Set a publication date.

10. Once you have a cover design you can put your book up for pre-order if you want to.

11. You need reviewers. Your book needs reviews. Contact publications such as Library Journal and book bloggers direct or use Netgalley. For a one-off fee you can reach booksellers, librarians and book bloggers and will gain reviews.

12. Try and create as much interest as you can pre-publication.

13. Set up a Goodreads giveaway.

14. Yay, your book is published. Keep working. It helps if you can create a buzz. Utilise social media. You should have a website, a Facebook author page, and perhaps a Twitter account and an Instagram account. It’s up to you how much or how little you post, but it’s good to have some sort of online presence.

15. Consider a price promotion for a limited period and promote the saving via ebook newsletters such as Bookbub, BookGorilla and Ereader News.

16. Enter your book for literary prizes but bear in mind many are closed to self-published books.

17. Keep writing. Readers who like your debut will be interested in what you do next.


About Jaq Hazell

4Jaq Hazell’s novel My Life as a Bench won the Rubery Book Award Book of the Year 2017 and the Carousel Aware Prize Best Young Adult book 2017. Her debut novel, I Came to Find a Girl, was included in The Telegraph’s Best Crime Fiction of 2015 and was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction.

Born near Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, to an Irish mother and an English father, she studied textile design at Nottingham Trent University and has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Jaq has worked as a journalist and magazine editor. She lives in London with her partner, their two daughters and her dog, Basil.


Sneak peek into next week: Marc Whelchel, author of The Doubly Dead Angel-Thief gets real with his post on the real reasons your book pitch keeps getting rejected.


Are you an author with a WIP? Do you want writing and publishing tips from published authors? Stay tuned to AuthorsGetLit! Posts go up every Sunday.

~ Shruti

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13 thoughts on “AuthorsGetLit: A self-publishing checklist from award-winning author, Jaq Hazell.

  1. It’s funny Shruti as months ago I wrote a “self publishing” vs “traditionally published” with pros and cons. Your post here goes further into the nitty gritty of what Indie authors need to do. It was very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, same! I have all these amazing authors writing tips for self-publishing here and I’ve to contain my excitement. For someone who hasn’t written a book yet, I do spend too much time thinking about the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing. xD

      Liked by 1 person

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