“How soon can I get my book on Amazon?”

I’ve heard this question many times. Unfortunately, most self-publishers are so caught up in the writing details that they have little time to devote to production and marketing matters.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before getting your heart set on a specific day or month.

The key message here is slow down.

  1. How many people or steps are involved in producing your book?
    Are you planning to include a foreword or index? A foreword is written by someone other than the author, and your foreword writer needs time to read your book. If you know the person well, they may be able to review a summary or early draft. If you don’t, you’ll want to make sure your manuscript is as perfect as it can be—edited, proofed, formatted for easy reading, etc. Again, depending on the person you are approaching, a foreword writer might need a week or it might take months, and that’s after they have agreed to write it. Start this as soon as you have a completed manuscript. Creating indexes and compiling information for an appendix adds additional time. Indexes are especially tricky because your indexer needs to see a perfectly paginated book to add page numbers to the index terms. This can add several weeks to the production schedule.
  2. Do you plan to solicit blurbs?
    We all want paragraphs of praise for the back of the book, the online selling page, and inside the front cover. But, like soliciting a foreword writer, obtaining these takes time and requires a solid draft of your book. You can skip adding them to the book itself, but I don’t recommend it. Add 2 to 6 weeks for this process, depending on your relationship with the person you are asking to endorse your book. Another point to emphasize is to never stop collecting blurbs.
  3. How much time do you need to review proofs?
    If you are producing a print book using CreateSpace or IngramSpark, this process can add, at a minimum, 1-3 weeks to the schedule once the book is submitted for file check. Most of this is mailing time and how long it takes the printer to print. You’ll need to receive the book and share it with the person or firm helping to produce it. If the errors you catch are simple—and you always catch errors—you may not need to order another proof. But if they are extensive, or you want to see what the book looks like with cream paper, or a cover in matte instead of gloss, you’ll repeat the process a second or even third time.
  4. How complete is your book before you begin?
    This question is a bit broad, because it addresses a whole bunch of other issues easily overlooked by authors busy with numbers 1-3 above and the actual writing of the book. Here is a sampling of what I mean:

Who is the publisher? If you are using a name other than your name (and you should) you may want a D/B/A.

Are you promoting a website? Do you have the domain reserved? Is the website built?

How are you handling the ISBN? Are you buying an ISBN or using a free one?

Are you including acknowledgments or a dedication? Are they ready to go?

If you are printing images, are they high-resolution images? And do you have the rights?

Do you need a legal review? Don’t wait until the last minute to have a competent attorney review your book especially if you are using someone’s trademarks or copyrighted materials.

  1. Are you allowing enough time for pre-release marketing?
    There is a reason why traditionally published books take longer to come to market. It’s because publishers know that pre-marketing helps sell more books post-launch. In my interview with Bailey Davis from Ingram, she pointed out: “Publishers who take the full 6 months to promote, market, and sell their books before the on-sale date tend to have better results when the books go live.”

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A realistic release date often depends on factors outside of your control. The key is to take advantage of this gift of time.

DAVID WOGAHN is president of AuthorImprints, a professional self-publishing services company. Wogahn has helped more than 100 authors and businesses establish their own publishing imprints, resulting in the successful publication of 250 books…and counting. He is the author of Register Your Book: The Essential Guide to ISBNs, Barcodes, Copyright and LCCNs, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com course Distributing and Marketing eBooks, and is a speaker for the Independent Book Publisher Association’s (IBPA) Publishing University.

Learn more at AuthorImprints or contact Wogahn at davidw@authorimprints.com or by phone at (877) 735-5269.