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A Short Checklist for Independent Publishers

Are you interested in independently publishing a book?

What that means is getting a book into the hands of readers either through electronic devices or hard copy without going through the centuries-old route of using a traditional publisher.

If you are, here is a handy checklist for you.

Like the ingredients you need before you begin making a cake, you will need:

1. A fully edited, completed manuscript, formatted into the correct version for the publishing platform you want to use.

2. An appropriate book cover for the ebook or print book. In the case of an ebook, the cover is just a front page which appears on the web; for print books, a cover includes a spine and a back cover.

3. A book title and sub-title, preferably one that uses keywords if you’re writing non-fiction. For example, you could write a book entitled ’How to Collect Model Cars’ or call it ‘Collecting Model Cars’. The latter title will be more effective as these words are what people type into search engines.

4. A sales description and back blurb. The blurb is what is printed on the back of your book, and also often acts as a sales description for your book on a website. Take a look at other books in your field and their sales descriptions to get some idea.

5. Some decided categories for your book. Even if your work is ‘way out’ and isn’t easy to place in a category, most publishing platforms give you the opportunity to play with where you want your book to be seen. Look for niche sub-categories in which you could possibly get a high rank. Be as specific as you can.

6. 5 to 10 Keywords to help readers find your book which can also help you determine categories.

7. Some idea of pricing. This is a complex field: you can distribute your work for free if you wish, just to get readers hooked, or you can start off with very low prices and build up. You can offer the work for different prices on different platforms. Price is something you can alter later if you wish, which is another interesting advantage in independent publishing.

8. An ISBN. An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. ISBNs were 10 digits in length up to the end of December 2006, but since 1 January 2007 they now always consist of 13 digits. They are calculated using a specific mathematical formula and include a check digit to validate the number. Most publishing platforms offer free ISBNs as part of the process. You need separate ISBNs for printed books and audio. There’s not much evidence to show that having your own ISBNs actually helps you to sell any more books.

There’s much more advice out there on how to publish independently, but the above checklist gives you the basics.

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