Yecheilyah’s Self-Publishing Checklist

You are gonna wanna bookmark this one!

1. Professional Edit

Editing is first for several reasons, one being that I can’t get the book formatted before it has been properly edited. I determine my production schedule on the date the book comes back from editing.

2. Digital and Print Formatting

Now that the book has been edited, it can be formatted for digital and print. Formatting for digital ensures that it flows properly when you read it on your kindle, phone, and other e-devices. 

Print formatting is vital to ensure the intended finished size of the book is how I want it. The most common size is 6×9 for a standard paperback. Poetry books tend to be smaller, 5×8, and workbooks are larger, maybe 8×10.

When I published my first poetry book, I chose 8×10. Imagine a poetry book the size of the 8×10 picture on your wall. Yes, it was a mess.

Oh, and Microsoft Word will not take care of your book formatting for you. Converting an MS word document to PDF and uploading it as is, is why many Self-Published books look messy and all over the place on digital devices. It can also make the printed book look poorly done, such as having too much spacing that makes your novel look like a College Essay. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.

Don’t skip on formatting. How your book looks inside is important.

3. Professional Cover Design 

Technically, the cover can be worked on as the book is being edited. A finished cover can be used to help promote the book if it’s done early and even kick off early preorders.

However, there’s a reason cover art is not right under editing. 

To complete the entire cover (front, back, and spine), the artist needs the exact number of pages and the book’s trim size. Usually, the number of pages changes after formatting. Also, some books are too thin for a spine. If I give him/her the wrong size, it can affect how the book prints, and then I’ll have to get it redone, which can cost more money.

While I can get away with a finished cover, I cannot complete the full artwork before steps one and two are accomplished.

As you can see, I have a strategic reason for publishing in this order.

4. Buy / Assign ISBN

I buy ISBNs in bulk, so this part is usually already done. If it’s not, this is around the time I get them.

5. Upload Files to KDP / Ingram Spark / Draft2Digital

This part requires its own post to fully explain. I’ll do my best to keep it short but clear. 

I publish with Kindle Direct Publishing and Ingram. KDP for Amazon and Ingram for wholesale distribution to bookstores and libraries.

How it works is I upload my files to KDP per usual, but I DO NOT select expanded distribution. The reason is that if you are making your title available in both self-publishing systems, that makes the title available to Ingram and will cause a conflict with the ISBN when you upload it into IngramSpark.

Although Amazon works with Ingram, publishing with Ingram separately makes it easier for your book to be ordered by bookstores. And bookstores hate Amazon, by the way. The thought of carrying a book published by Amazon gets their blood boiling. That’s another reason it’s good to have your own ISBN. It can make it easier for the store to carry your print-on-demand title without being distracted by the fact it was published independently by Amazon.

After publishing with Amazon, I go through the process of uploading my files to Ingram Spark.

If step three was not done properly, this is the part I can get stuck on. The cover must match the size of the book and the artist must provide a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.

Lastly, I upload my files to draft2digital for distribution to all online retailers, from B&N, to Kobo, to iTunes. 

6. Order Proof Book 

Order the proof copy of the book from Amazon and Ingram. Check for errors. 

7. Start Production Schedule / Publish Book

Now that the book is complete, I can kick off the production schedule. 


Wanna Use this System for Your Book? Click Here to Schedule a Personal Consult with Me


Dear Self-Published Author, Reinvest in Yourself

The financial part of Self-Publishing is not talked about enough. Lack of funding can get in the way of an author producing a high-quality book which can get in the way of that author selling that book.

One solution you can employ is to reinvest in yourself by taking the money you make from your book to publish more books!

I’m a slow writer. By slow, I mean I only publish 1-2 books yearly. I have no plans of publishing a book this year. But here’s the twist:

The money I made and saved in 2022 will help me to publish in 2023.

I have the privilege of speaking at Griffin High School again this year. As you know, teaching, children, and writing are all passions of mine, so whenever I can combine them is a plus. This will pay for editing my black history book. The money I made from book signings will help to cover the cost of the cover and other things.

See where I’m going with this? I knew you would.

If you think about it, by reinvesting, you are not spending your own money!

It’s about changing your perspective and putting those creative skills to work.

No. I did not publish a book this year.

I’ve been stacking my coins so I can publish two books next year.


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Don’t Judge Your Year One by Someone Else’s Year Ten

One complaint I hear from new Self-Publishers (a lot) is how much they wish they could do what they see other authors doing.

Usually, these are authors they perceive are more successful. I say perceive because you really don’t know what that person is going through, has gone through, or what they sacrificed to be where they are now.

But know this:

You are doing yourself a disservice when comparing your progress to others.

If you’ve published your first book, it is not fair for you to compare yourself to someone publishing their third or fourth book. Your journey will not be the same. Never measure your year one with someone else’s year ten.

My first few books were duds. I’m talking bootleg covers and crappy editing. The only people who bought them were members of my organization at the time—like someone whose church family buys their book.

The problem with this is that I wasn’t reaching anyone else. No one outside of my spiritual family and genetic relatives knew who I was.

It wasn’t until The Stella Trilogy (books 6-8) that I found my voice, and people became aware of who I was. Starting this blog and the support from the blogging community also helped. People interviewed me on their blogs, let me guest post, re-blogged my articles, and helped me to cast a wider net.

I miss those days!

But this was five books in.

Five published books before I saw some ripples. That’s five years.

I share my process and my journey to be an inspiration to aspiring and new Indie Authors. I share to raise awareness about the difficulties and perks of the self-publishing industry as I’ve experienced it and to spark hope for those seeking this path.

I do not share these things for you to look down on yourself, your journey, or your process.

Don’t give up on yourself too quickly. You have your own lane. A lane that will lead you to so many great endeavors and opportunities. Walk in it.

Own the space you are in.

PS. This message can also apply to life in general.


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The Power of Systems and Consistency

I’ve been Self-Publishing my books for twelve years now. Usually, after learning I’ve published fourteen books and counting, people are astonished. They want to know what the secret is. There’s only one problem.

I don’t have a secret.

But, I do have a system. 

System: A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized framework or method.

Every time I publish a book, I follow the same 5-7 steps. 

Call it a schedule if that’s easier, but this timetable helps me to publish with ease every time. 

Cover by Yocla Designs

This is the new book cover for my first novel, The Aftermath (2012), which I revealed years ago. I had planned to launch a second edition but still have not finished revising it. However, I won’t have to worry about a cover when I get around to it. It is bought and paid for.

As you can see, I don’t always keep my steps in exact order, but I am never too far off track because I have a blueprint to follow. 

Tip: Always get your book edited and formatted before your artist designs the entire book cover because the book’s trim size determines the book’s dimensions. A cover design (just the front) is okay if you’d like to use it to promote and build excitement, but for an accurate width of the spine, for instance, your artist will need your exact number of pages which you won’t know until the book is edited and formatted. Getting the text formatted before the final cover is complete is part of my system. 

What I am saying to you is I do the same thing repeatedly. No magic. No secret sauce. Just systems and consistency. 

I call this series Indie Author Basics because I genuinely believe simplicity is king. All you have to do is find a way that works for you and repeat it. That’s a system. A collection of parts working together. 

If you have not written your book, what can you do every day to move you closer to finishing? Could you write it every morning while drinking coffee? Could you write it before bed? During lunch? What system works for you?

If you’ve written your book but have not published it, click on the link below and schedule a call with me. If you are looking to Self-Publish, you don’t have to figure out a system. Just use mine!


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Dear Self-Published Author, Don’t Overpay to Play

“Don’t Overpay to Play”

– Vivica A. Fox

I low-key don’t like this picture because that black shirt was cuter in my mirror at home, lol.

I met Vivica in 2018 when she released her book Everyday I’m Hustling, which I read and reviewed. In it, she talks about not overpaying to play. When applied to Self-Publishing, this kind of advice can save us tons of money and wasted time.

The scammers are getting clever by the day, and they gear their tactics toward Self-Published authors. One thing we can do to arm ourselves is to understand the difference between investing in ourselves and our books and paying to play. 

Investments

An investment in your book is anything that will help with the publication, promotion, and marketing of your work in a way that brings value. These are usually services offered by well-known, reputable people and organizations that produce quality. It is when you vet and hire a competent editor, when you pay for a dope cover design, when you buy ads, when you pay for web design, coaching, and so forth. These are investments that can take you to new levels. It’s an investment because you get a return.

Paying to Play

Paying to play is paying an obscene amount of money for hype that offers no real value. They usually package these as opportunities to take your business to the next level. It could mean paying 10K to a vanity press to publish your book only to come out with a crappy cover and poorly edited book slapped up on Amazon or paying 2K to attend a pointless conference. 

Vivica explains it this way:

“When you get a little bit of success, you start getting invited to these big dinners and awards nights that on paper look like a great place to network. These invites can cost three hundred dollars and up! After you go to a few, you realize that you really just get the cocktail hour to network, and then it’s hard to see anyone once you’re seated for the presentation.”

Anytime you are paying tons of money to “get in the room,” you are overpaying to play. It doesn’t have to be literally in the room, as in Vivica’s example, but it could be anything that promises luxury but is not worth it in the end. Here are some examples from Anne R. Allen’s Bogus Agents, Phony Communities, Fake Conferences, and Pay-to-Play Anthologies: New Scam Warnings for Writers:

  • Republishing your book to send to “investors” or “get you a traditional publishing contract.”
  • Filming a pricey book trailer
  • Book-to-Film “licensing” (See my post on this heartbreaking scam And here’s Alli’s warning, including business names the book-to-film scammers use.) I hear from people every day who have been snagged by this scam.
  • High-ticket, useless marketing services.
  • Buying you an interview on a podcast or radio show nobody listens to.

And I will add to that:

  • Paying to be featured in an article no one knows exists or reads
  • Paying thousands to a vanity press only to receive poor editing and crappy cover art
  • Paying to speak at an event in exchange for “exposure” (seasoned speakers should get paid to speak)

Let’s say someone offers to promote your book to their 20K followers. What you want to look at is their engagement, not followers. No one will see your book if they have tons of followers, but no engagement. Engagement is likes, comments, saves, and shares. If they charge you money to promote on their page and they have 20K followers but 0-3 likes on a post, this is a red flag. It means chances are they bought their followers. (Buying followers is also a form of paying to play.)

Note: There’s nothing wrong with not having much engagement for the everyday social media user who is learning. I am talking about the people charging you money to be featured on their platform and using their millions of followers as bait.

Paying to play can also look like being offered a chance to be featured in an article in Forbes for the low price of $500.

Umm. Why would I pay to be featured in an article if I’m for real dope? Shouldn’t Forbes reach out to me?

This is the stuff we have to pay attention to. Many of these features in articles and media have been bought, not earned. This is paying to play the game.

I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book tbh, but Fox drops some great gems.

Everything is Not a Scam, But Vet People

I am not one of those “everything is a scam,” type people. Some businesses are new to what they are offering and we all know to become an expert, you must start. Everybody was a newbie at something at some point. You will know the scammer by the services offered in relation to the price tag. Why am I paying 5K to attend a conference for you to tell me to have more faith? Not when I can take that money and pay for professional therapy.

AJC Book Festival

I’m passionate about sharing my experiences as a Self-Published author because there are so many scams aimed at us. They mainly target the novice Self-Publisher. I do not mean the novice writer. You can have written before and be a master of the English language and still get scammed because you know little about Self-Publishing a book. Or, you can have Self-Published and still get scammed. It can happen to any of us.

That’s why our greatest weapon against it is knowledge and experience.

“I always tell people to educate themselves with real experience.” – Vivica A. Fox


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Don’t Let Your Self-Published Book Rust Away on Amazon

I won’t keep you today, but I want to share this short message.

Most Self-Published authors publish a book, do a happy dance, and then let it rust away on Amazon, never to be seen or heard from again.

That’s because most Indie Authors are still waiting to be Amazon Best Sellers, rack up on thousands of reviews, and wait for Amazon to send them royalties.

And there is nothing wrong with any of this.

Except, sometimes those royalties don’t be royal if you know what I mean.

And getting new reviews can be like pulling teeth.

Both are important, but I want you to know you don’t have to pull your hair out waiting. There are people who have few reviews on Amazon and still do very well and it’s because they stepped outside the box. They did something different.

And so can you.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is that the book is only the beginning. It is a foundation, an open door, a ticket…

But into what??

Whatever you want.

Your Self-Published book is the beginning of a fresh course, community, even a movement for political and social change.

Writing a book sets you apart as an expert in your field. You are now equipped to speak on the topic of your book (yes, fiction writers, you too), teach the themes of your book, or advocate for the message of your book.

You can sell signed paperback copies of this book from your own website, sell them in bulk at schools, libraries, and bookstores.

You can build an entire course and online school from your book, or vend at large events, conferences, and workshops.

Strategic Self-Published authors see the book, not as the end, but the beginning of a journey into more.

And why is this important?

Because a Self-Published book lost in the sea of Amazon does not produce more fruit.

Think about it.


I hope this helps someone. Stay safe folks!

Need more Indie Author Tips?

Check out the IAB archive here.

Need more in-depth guidance? Book a consult with me.

Do You Have Permission to Mass Email?

I am squeezing this post in, in the middle of packing, so I won’t keep you long.


Ahh. The author’s email list. Some hate them. Some love them. Either way, this is for the people who use them.

Before you send that email, do you have permission? 

What do I mean by permission? This is your business, and you run the show. Do you really need permission?

Yes, you do.

How excited I imagine ya’ll be to spam people without knowing you spamming people.
Photo by Tima

You must have permission to email people anything that may be considered marketing or promotional content. Further, you must provide a way for them to unsubscribe or opt-out of the email if they choose to do so.

I am not talking about emailing here and there. I am talking about those of you sending mass emails every day to promote your products and services without getting permission. I am talking about the slick way that you BCC people who have not volunteered for the information you are sending.

This is not my opinion, guys. These are part of the legal requirement for email marketing. 

“CAN-SPAM is one of the longest-running email marketing regulations in the world. Its laws were released in 2003 after years of email spam and unsolicited pornography filled inboxes the world over.” (Privacy Policies)

CAN-SPAM applies to US-based businesses sending marketing emails to US residents. Here are some of its requirements:

  • Do not use deceptive email addresses, names, domain names or subject lines to mislead the recipient. Be truthful and honest.

If you are putting “Re:” in the subject line of your emails as if you are replying to someone when you are not, you are being deceptive and violating US privacy law.

  • If the message contains adult content or explicit imagery, this must be specified clearly in the subject line of the email.
  • Include a physical street address within the content of all marketing emails.
  • Provide consumers with a conspicuous and straightforward way to unsubscribe from marketing emails. Fulfill unsubscribe requests within 10 days.

Be Safe and Use a Third-Party Email Provider

Photo by cottonbro

If possible, do not send emails without using a third-party email marketing service.

Third-party email services like ConvertKit, Mailchimp, and Mailerlite allow you to create a form people can use to sign up, giving them permission to be emailed. It also provides an easy way to comply with privacy laws because they already set it up that way. They embedded these into the form.

The Problem with Not Telling People to Subscribe to Your List

Photo by Andrea

Ask any influencer, coach, mentor, or “guru” and you’ll learn the general rule of thumb is that when growing an email list, you never say, “Sign up to my email list.” Instead, you offer an incentive (say a free book or resource) that people will sign up to receive. They enter their email and download the freebie.

But here’s the thing:

You still have to mention they will be subscribed to your list.

  • You cannot trick people into signing up for your email list. 
  • You cannot keep emailing people who have not given permission to be emailed.
  • You cannot email people without a way for them to opt out.
  • You cannot be deceptive. If someone did not reply to your email, there is no reason to put “Re” in the subject line like they did.

I hope this helps someone. Stay safe folks!

Need more Indie Author Tips?

Check out the IAB archive here.