Author Tips: Book Release Checklist

Chick-lit, romantic comedy by K.S. Brooks and Stephen HiseThis past weekend, the Evil Mastermind and I released our latest collaboration: Triple Dog Dare. Man, am I exhausted.

While this is my nineteenth release, things are always inevitably forgotten. But, you’re a spreadsheet geek, Brooks. Don’t you have a list somewhere, you ask? Yeah, I probably do.

I thought it might be helpful to authors beginning a project or approaching release time to have a breakdown of what to do with a general idea of when. This list isn’t for everyone, or perhaps anyone, but at least I’ll know where to find it next time I do a release. That’s right; it’s all about me.

A few things, before I dive into the list. I believe in editing before Beta readers. I know many people prefer it the other way around, so do what works for you. Also, I’m a paranoid hermit, so I don’t believe in doing book cover reveals, teasers, title leaks, or anything of that regard.

Book Preparation Process

  • Write book
  • Edit book
  • Rewrite book
  • Hem and haw over rewriting book again
  • Make initial contact to Beta readers
  • Upload MS to Createspace; print proofs
  • Send book to editor
  • Implement half of editor’s suggestions
  • Ignore half of editor’s suggestions
  • Reconsider ignored suggestions and rewrite pages
  • Update Beta readers on timeframe to receive book
  • Solicit ARC (Advanced Review Copy) readers
  • Argue over genre classifications
  • Format book and upload to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
  • Download .mobi file; generate PDF file
  • Send files to Beta readers
  • Chew fingernails down to the quick awaiting feedback
  • Work on Video Trailer
  • Design book’s web page
  • Touch base with ARC readers
  • Continue trying to get more ARC readers
  • Get Beta feedback
  • Fix typos as needed
  • Regenerate mobi and pdf files for ARC readers
  • Should write press release now but too frazzled
  • Develop perks for Betas and ARC Readers
  • Start implementing ARC typo feedback
  • Check in with ARC Readers
  • Bang head against wall for the hell of it

2 days prior to launch:

  • Email ARC readers an update
  • Upload corrected final eBook files
  • Arrange with two excellent people to check for formatting errors on their ereaders the next morning
  • Set price to 99 cents (you’ll see why)
  • Late in the day, press the publish button
  • Cross your fingers that it’s live when you wake up

1 day prior to launch:

  • Wake up before the alarm because you’re fried
  • Check to see if book is live
  • Send gift cards to 2 people to check for formatting issues
  • Bang head against desk in anticipation
  • Update web pages and announcements with purchase links
  • Get go-ahead from formatting checkers
  • Email instructions to ARC readers
  • Get book up on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari
  • Contact Amazon Author Central like 30 times to claim to author page
  • Tear hair out that “Look Inside Feature” is not working
  • Eat Snickers to stay awake
  • Set up book release party on Facebook; invite and annoy everyone
  • Go through book pulling out quotes to tweet the next day
  • Make trailer video public on YouTube
  • Launch book’s web page
  • Eat more Snickers bars
  • Realize you’re still in your pajamas
  • Remember to set up KDP Select promo to free for release day
  • Try to add book to author page five more times
  • Lie in bed completely wired

Release Day!

  • No need to wake up because you never slept
  • Stagger past coffee to computer
  • Check for reviews on Amazon
  • Go to Event on Facebook, start entertaining people
  • Realize you have no idea how to entertain people
  • Panic
  • Go to KDP screen to check free download count
  • Bang head against wall
  • Be grateful for excellent friends who start posting good stuff on event wall
  • Start posting excerpts to Twitter and event page
  • Email Author Central AGAIN about your book
  • Wonder how often you should post to the FB event
  • Lock up your browser from clicking refresh too many times on KDP Reports
  • Lock up your browser from clicking refresh too many times on your book’s page
  • Do a happy dance when Author Central finally links your book!
  • Private message your friends about the event even though you already invited them
  • Run out of steam around 6 p.m.
  • Realize you are still in the same pajamas
  • Tell yourself you’ll do the press release tomorrow
  • Smile because you’re #15 in free humor
  • Take screen shots of the ranking
  • Share the screen shots in the event
  • Release a happy sigh because 50% of the ARC readers posted reviews, following instructions perfectly!
  • Put your head down for just a moment
  • Wake up with keyboard imprints on your forehead.

I’m thinking you may have a few questions, mostly pertaining to running a freebie out of the chute, and setting the price at 99 cents. Well, first off – the 99 cent price is great if you’re gifting it to people. That is the lowest you can go and costs you the least. You still get your royalty, and sending gift cards to two people costs you only about $2.00. Running the freebie is a sort of thank you to your Betas and ARC readers, so they can have the newest and best version of the book. Also, if they download the freebie before writing their review, it will show as a verified purchase. This can be important. You might as well offer this as a lure to get people to your event, too. People love free, right?  Lastly, we’ll be keeping the 99 cent price for one more week after the freebie. This will give people who heard about the freebie and normally wouldn’t take a chance on your writing the opportunity to do so at minimal cost.

Again, all – or none – of these may be right for you, but I think it’s a formula that has potential. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go massage the keyboard imprints out of my forehead. Good luck with your next release!

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director and administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is currently a photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two NE Washington newspapers.  She teaches self-publishing and writing topics for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page.

33 thoughts on “Author Tips: Book Release Checklist”

  1. Fantastic! I’m happy others bang their heads too. I thought I was the only one. Oh the joy of the internet blog, where you learn that you really are kind of normal.

  2. Thanks for posting. This was very interesting.

    I have a question about your method. The question may stem from my lack of knowledge about the normal process, but you list giving your book to beta readers after you’ve gotten it back from your editor.

    If you already have it edited, what do you do with the beta reader feedback? Is it just to see if it jives with what the editor? If there’s a problem noted by several betas, will you make changes and then send it back to your editor? And maybe, it’s just a matter of clarification–was the editor you sent it to more of a developmental editor, or more of a copy editor?

    I’m just trying to figure out if maybe I should alter something in my own process, as I tend to send the stuff to the editor after beta readers, as the final piece in the editorial process.

    1. RJ, I have ALWAYS sent my book to my editor before any beta readers. And I always will. The thought of sending something unedited out to betas (or anyone) is repulsive to me. This is a matter of personal preference, of course. I used to use two editors, from completely different backgrounds, in case one of them suggested something I didn’t agree with – if the other had the same input, then I felt the need to implement that suggestion no matter how much I disagreed. On my last novel, Night Undone, one editor said that Special Agent Night was too bitchy, the other said she wasn’t bitchy enough. That told me that I was right about where I should be. My editors check for grammar, punctuation, continuity, and story issues. They do the whole thing.

      My editors know me pretty well, and therefore getting fresh eyes on it – from people who aren’t as familiar with my writing – can catch story issues that the editor missed. I don’t want my betas getting a book with dumb mistakes in it. I want them to get a pretty clean copy so they can concentrate on the story. For Triple Dog Dare, it was the betas who helped us decide that we’d chosen the wrong genre classification, and should switch from light romcom to chicklit.

      Every writer has their own process – so you need to do what works best for you. 🙂

        1. Maybe I’m spoiled, or just lucky, but I’ve never had to do a rewrite other than a paragraph here and there, and then I just sent those back to the editor who usually gives me a dog biscuit and a pat on the head. 😉

      1. Thanks for explaining. I think it’s good to get betas a clean copy, but I’m more like Yvonne, and just do my best editing before sending it out to betas. Then I just have that final edit to pay for. I do like the fresh perspective betas give. They often pick up on things (storywise) that completely escaped me.

        1. From the standpoint of someone who has done a lot of beta reading and had it done both ways either way can work and I think a lot of it depends on your expectations for your betas and and possibly what your exact editing process is and your confidence level. (I’m assuming when we talk editing here we mean copyediting and/or proofing. Content editing absolutely needs to be done prior to going to the betas.)

          Kat’s method is ideal, but based on the assumption that there isn’t going to be a lot of feedback from the betas that you’ll decide require changes.

          RJ’s is okay, but you do want it as clean as you can get it. I don’t mind having a few typos and questionable sentences to point out (sometimes those little things are all the feedback I have other than I like it). And if you’re having copyediting/proofing done after the fact, the betas will help you get the book cleaned up which might help lower your editing costs. However, I’ve had times where there were so many issues that I felt like I was being used as an unpaid editor/proofer. That’s not good.

  3. Great recap of what goes on behind the screen. I thought the launch was a lot of fun and very successful, at last from my vantage point. As I noted in my earlier post about my book launch, the real balancing act for me was reminding betas and attendees often enough that they remember, but not so much that they became irritated. I think you hit the mark on this one. Congratulations on a fun book launch; now go and clean that dried drool off your keyboard.

    1. I thought your book launch was a lot of fun, Melissa. You had it nicely spaced out and it was an interesting subject. Thanks for stopping by ours and posting all your fun dog photos – and thank you so very much for the awesome review! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Martin! Fingers crossed we can keep the momentum going. And double thank you, because I developed some of these strategies while watching your success. 🙂

  4. Thank you. Kat, for a funny, insightful, informative, thoughtful, and did I already say funny, post? Your approach to dot point to-do lists will be helpful to new authors, and some not so new authors.

    By the way, Kat, congratulations on a successful launch.

    1. Thanks, TD. There’s always something forgotten, for certain. And I’ve probably left something off the list. I look forward to your next launch!

  5. Hey hey hey this would be even more hysterical if it weren’t true! But I laughed a LOT! Good luck to those who think they want to become authors. I’m thinking I might prefer to lay pipeline in Alaska during the dead of winter before considering writing as a profession. You have moxie!!!

  6. Hey Kat! Question: What perks do you use for your beta readers and ARC readers? Also, I just want to make sure I have this clear — you set the price to free for the launch day and then raise it to .99 for a week or two?

    1. Hey Nickie, it’s a little more complicated than that – I present the list of ARC reader perks and some other thoughts about it in a post later this month. 🙂

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