Publishing Process

We have been talking about the process we use for publishing, over at Raconteur Press, as we streamline it and work in having more than one person doing it all. Which is very interesting, and actually relevant to the Indie authors as well. For myself, having done this for years, I hadn’t really sat down and worked through all of the steps on paper. I just know. And sometimes I do them out of order, and I’ve made mistakes. So many mistakes, over the years… but we were writing down our process, to be able to figure out an optimal flow (as I’m the illustrator, CV Walter is the chief editor, Lawdog is the publisher, and there’s another editor involved now, plus bringing on a project manager to manage, well, us) that wouldn’t leave any one of us heaped under work and moaning slightly with the overwhelmed.

The process that follows is likely missing a step, as I haven’t yet done a walkthrough of it with a project of my own (I should prep and publish a short story, then revisit this topic!). It is also focused on Amazon, although most of it is equally applicable to publishing wide through Draft2Digital or another distributor. However, it should give you an idea of what all you need to get done before you can press the ‘Publish’ button and set your book free into the wilds of roving herds of readers, to be devoured.

Presume starting with a complete, and edited, manuscript. I’m not going to worry about how you get there, in this post.

Process for Publication: 

  • Final, edited manuscript
  • Proofread it again
  • Style Sheet (nice to have, particularly for a series, recording fonts used, formatting details, and so on)
  • Formatting for ebook – epub version
    • Front matter – need not be as extensive as print, but you do need it
    • Body of Manuscript
    • Table of contents (is required for ebook)
    • Colophon
      • Don’t forget platform-friendly links to your other books, especially series, at the end of the book. Vellum can insert these automatically. 
      • Call to action for reviews
      • Teaser for the next book in series (if applicable)
  • Research genre covers to get an idea of what’s hot and selling (do this even if hiring an artist)
  • Create front cover/ebook cover (or give your artist input while allowing them artistic freedom if they know what they are doing)
  • Format the book for print
    • Page count, paper type (cream or white) and cut size (ie 6×9”) for the print spread template
    • Front Matter (copyright, dedication, etc)
    • Table of Contents
    • Body of manuscript
    • Colophon
      • Author Bio/Where can they find you?
      • Other books by…
      • Please leave a review (call to action)
  • Write the blurb (can also serve as back cover description)
  • Choose categories (not only the two you can manually input, but up to ten to send separately through Author Central)
  • Decide on keywords
  • Format the back cover and spine on the print spread
  • Set pricing for both ebook and print versions
  • Upload the final files:
    • Interior
    • Ebook
    • Front (ebook) cover
    • Print Spread
  • Press the ‘Publish’ button on the print book at least 24 hours prior to the ebook, to allow for a slower process and any issues with the files. 
  • Press the ‘Publish’ button on the ebook 

If you’d like a printable, checkable list of this, you can use mine at this link.

Questions? Ask them in the comments! I suspect there are many variations on this process, and I’m curious what works for you.

28 thoughts on “Publishing Process

    1. In that case you might want to publish it even earlier. I left out pre-ordering from this, because I don’t use it. Also, Raconteur Press can’t use it as we route through PubShare for the accounting and it’s not possible with that route to publication.

      marketing (which is the ARC team) would be a whole different process list! We should do one of those, too, I suppose.

  1. Great list. One caveat I’d add is not to rely on the print taking longer than the e-book. I’ve had two instances where I hit publish at the same time and the print book went through and was live before the e-book. Surprised the crap out of me when it happened.

        1. When I have a print version fly through with no errors I’m always so surprised. LOL

          Although I will say that Vellum has been worth the money for the way it makes this process so much less stressful than manually setting everything the way I used to.

          1. Yeah. It surprises and worries me. I’m always afraid it means I missed something.

            As for Vellum, it is one of the best investments I’ve made.

  2. For wraparound print covers, and possible dustjackets, too, you really need the (near)final page count as part of the artist specs so that you can do both the print and the ebook covers at roughly the same time.

    Also… I use my cover artist (or do it myself) to produce series-level scene/section/book-end sigils/separators that match the style of the cover art.

    Then, in the accounting/industry back end of the business, there are inhouse identifiers for the title, external ISBNs, copyright registrations, listings at Bowker, the distribution uploads/tracking, listings on Goodreads, etc.,

    AND… If it is a continuing element in a series or otherwise a potential piece of a larger publication, there may be follow-on publications. (E.g., if you just wrote book 4 of a series, and you have 2-book bundles, for that series, it’s time to also publish the second 2-book bundle (and maybe the first 4-book bundle).

    AND… depending on how you create imagery for ads, it may be time to mine the actual cover imagery for ad imagery and other collateral uses. Perhaps you have kickstarters running, etc…

    1. Yep, I pointed that out in the checklist, you have to have page count, book size, and the paper type in order to set up the print cover (both for paperback and hardcover, but that’s a different post explaining the ins and outs)

      Sigils are nice. I like to use house logos (I have one, Raconteur has one, Sedgefield Press who I design for has one and so on. Like the Baen logo, so a reader can spot the spine at a distance).

      The ISBNs and so forth are good things to know if you’re modeling your production after the traditional publishing process.

      Marketing process really needs to be it’s own post or even a series of posts! So much…

      1. I’d add: If you use an ISBN number, be sure to leave a few blank pages in a print book, so that if you release a corrected edition, or have to add something later and there is more text, you don’t change your page count. Some systems require a new ISBN if you have a new page count. [No ISBN, or no print version, not as much problem.]

        1. As a manufactured product, a paper book with a different number of pages is a different product, and thus requires a different ISBN (product number) to distinguish it.

        2. So that’s why some dead-tree books had up to 12 blank pages at the end! You’ve answered a question I never even asked.

          1. A more important reason, particularly for major publishers, is that large/fast printers print books in “signatures”, which are a group of pages printed on a single piece of paper, and then folded/cut — and then the signatures are bound together to make the book. A common signature size is 16 pages — so the total book size will be multiple of 16 pages. You can fill things in with blank pages, or in-house ads, or anything else you want — but blank pages are easiest.

            If you have time, in the production process, when you see that you’re just over a signature boundary, you can always go back and tweak the typesetting to make the book a bit tighter, and save a signature (it doesn’t take a lot of tightening things like letterspacing to save a page in a multi-hundred page book, for example). But that takes time in production, and often human detailed intervention (which costs money) — so it’s easier to just print blank pages, or filler content.

          2. Right. The ISBN is the book industry’s primary SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) — the product code that all manufactured items must have.

  3. As a reader with a large TBR stack in the Kindle, I’d love to see the blurb somewhere in the eBook. It wouldn’t matter if it’s part of the front matter or in the back. If (no, it’s really “when”) I get to a book that’s been purchased a while ago, I can come into it cold unless I go back to the ‘zon to read the blurb.

    I have no idea if anybody else would like this, and only a vague idea of how much trouble it would cause, but I’ll put it out there.

  4. Thanks for this list, Cedar. It’s going to be Very Relevant to me later this year. At least I’ll have a checklist of things to panic about! 😀

  5. 1) The Style sheet isn’t a nice to have. It’s required! And for a series, keep a Style Bible because I guarantee that you won’t remember the color of a minor character’s eyes when they become a major character three books later.

    2) Bill always lays out the trade paperback FIRST because he catches more errors that way and then can fix them in the eBook manuscript. This works for us but YMMV.

    1. Yes, the physical proof copy of the paperback is a must! Which means that you need more lead time on the POD, if you want the ebook and the paperback to release at the same time. But funky things can happen with color balance on the cover which you’ll only catch (and be able to correct) by seeing the physical copy.

      1. J.M. YES! The ONE time I didn’t do that, because I rushed, the online proof looked fine. The actual print copies I needed for the con came with multiple errors… Most of which fellin the list Matt gave below. sigh…

        1. Ah! Once bit, twice shy! I was all ready to press for physical proofs in the comments, when I saw yours–so I simply cheered your rec. It’s always when one skips a step that the omission comes back to bite. 😉

          I’m *still* tempted to skip the physical proof, almost always due to the time it takes, and I have to remind myself that it’s not a good idea. Even when there are no printing errors, I often catch some error of *mine* that I just did not see until that stage despite all my care.

  6. As a lifelong reader, I have fairly recently run into some issues with authors who write for ebooks and then dump it into a POD version.

    1. Table of contents is “Chapter 1” through “Chapter 40” with no page numbers. This is stupid.
    2. Lousy graphic design. Margins are too small making it tough to read to the bound edge of the book and headers/footers run into the text, making it very confusing.
    3. Lousy layout. Too many pages with one or two words on them.
    4. Unexpected blank pages.
    5. Lines with just a close quote on them.
    6. Weird font shifts (okay you did sort of address that).
    7. Poor copyediting. Somebody with that particular skill is important.
    8. Repeating phrases too often. I think having a team review of the work will catch almost all of them.

    None of these are criticisms of the stories and only criticism of the author if the author has too much hubris to delegate work that is out of the authors skills.

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: