Book Release Checklist

book launch checklist graphicIf the wedding planning industry (and make no mistake – it’s an industry) has given us one useful idea, it’s this: the idea of a checklist leading up to the Big Day. Say what you will about some of the more outrageous line-items (personalized matchbooks?), but it’s a useful thing to have as you work your way through a complex undertaking with a lot of moving parts, like a wedding. Or a book launch.

I just released a new book, so all of this is fresh in my mind. Inevitably, I forget to do something in the effort to remember to do the thing I forgot to do last time. This time, I completely forgot about the ARC, so I had no reviews ready for launch day. Dumb, right? So I am making myself a checklist. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Two months to six weeks before launch date:

• Send WIP to editor and beta reader. Ask them to look for specific things. Give them a deadline for your WIP’s return.

• Mock up ARC.

One month before launch date:

• Make one more editing pass.

• Receive WIP from beta. Make changes or not, depending on their suggestions.

• Receive WIP from editor. Make those changes.

• Design cover, if this hasn’t been done already. Don’t forget the back cover for the paperback!

• Send ARC to reviewers, giving them your launch date.

• List book at Goodreads.

• Create book trailer and upload to YouTube. Put link on blog/website.

• Decide on marketing budget and begin contacting places for launch advertising, or hire a tour operator or publicist.

One week before launch:

• Final editing pass. Save as FINAL version of book.

• Format book for Smashwords according to the Smashwords Style Guide. Save as Smashwords version.

• Run Find & Replace on Smashwords version, changing “Smashwords” to “Kindle.” Swap out Smashwords links to your other books for Amazon links. Save as Kindle version.

• Format FINAL file for CreateSpace: Change page size to 6×9”; remove all hyperlinks; change to prettier fonts; embed fonts in document; make sure all chapter titles are in Word’s Heading 2 style, adjusting style as necessary; change to single-spaced paragraphs; change to full justification; format headers, including page numbers; click “different first page” in each section, so that headers don’t show on the first page of each section/chapter; run Word’s Table of Contents utility; add blank pages as necessary so that table of contents and first chapter fall on the right-hand page. Save as CreateSpace version.

• Upload respective Word docs to KDP, Smashwords, and CreateSpace.

• The following day, review CreateSpace proof online, uploading corrected version if necessary. Double-check that ToC page numbers correspond to the page numbers in your book.

• Add ASIN or ISBN to the book’s listing at Goodreads.

• Create and send newsletter to fans to let them know about your new book.

• Plan Facebook launch party. Consider giveaways at Goodreads and LibraryThing.

• Blog about your new release and all the fun ways you’ve planned for fans to celebrate with you.

Launch day!:

• Buy any last-minute ads (Facebook? Goodreads?).

• Sit back, relax, and enjoy the kudos from your fans. You’ve earned them.

Anything I forgot?

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

30 thoughts on “Book Release Checklist”

  1. Thanks, Lynne! Excellent checklist (I love checklists). I would need to insert hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing into my version, though 😉

  2. Must bookmark, thanks. And include chocolate. Purchase a copy of your e-book to make sure the formatting isn’t horrific. More chocolate. Press releases. More chocolate.

  3. Great list, Lynne. I’ll have to save this for my next book release. The other key is to remember to look at the list at all those points in time, so you get things done (like review copies) in a timely manner.

    1. Good point, RJ. I seem to recall living with my wedding planner checklist at the time. 😀 I may have to print this out and put it on the wall above my computer.

  4. It’s a great list, Lyn but I think you don’t start early enough.

    We start 5or 6 months before the launch with creating buzz with the cover. What do readers think of version 1 or 2? Along with that we have snippets of the opening, Which is more catchy? Goodreads is a place to do this but there are other reader sites where we can do this. Maybe we post a scene and ask if it is too fast/drags/frightening/sexy/whatever? Depends on the book.

    And we also intend in future to run pinterest boards about each book as it is written. We’ll be catching up and doing it for the already published books but certain age group readers really like this and writers I know recommend it.

    Natch the info about the book launch has gone out to our email list at 6 months, 3 months and the week before.

    Around 3 or 4 months we ask readers to Beta read the final draft. Those who do we promise a signed published copy and if they care to write a reveiw could they post it in all the usual places on the launch date? Not everyone does of course but it does help boost the book when it appears and the reviews pop up.

    Then we pretty muich follow your schedule.

    1. p.d.r., I suspect the difference in our approaches is in writing time frames. I tend to be on about a four-month timetable for my books, from research to first draft to publication. There is no way I could begin floating cover ideas five or six months before launch day, because I don’t have a clue what the book will be about at that point. And at three months out, I’m just beginning to write the first draft, so I would have nothing to send to a beta reader.

      In other words, everybody’s different. 🙂

      1. Of course! It takes us a year to write a serious historical so we can start our PR when we’re reaching final draft stage.

        I wish I could write more quickly, like you, Lynne, but am cheered by my colleagues who are as slow as I am. We are terrified of putting out an Indie book which has not been edited and proofread to the highest standards.

        1. Well, I’m still learning about formatting, styles, etc. But a post about to set things up from the start would be good… Too bad Rich isn’t writing here anymore… Maybe someone could ask him?

          1. Thanks, Lynn. It does help. 🙂 Much appreciated. Now how do you change your ms when it’s done, from double space to single space? Hit SELECT ALL and then choose SINGLE SPACE? (Just makin’ sure…)

  5. Good & Plentys? Must be a US thing. A good list, Lynne, and I was going to add local media but Yvonne beat me to it.

  6. Thanks for the comprehensive list, Lynne. Other promotion items I’d suggest for the launch day:

    Set up new Google Alert for your book title + your my name

    Launch a Pinterest page for the book with images that complement the setting of your story (works very well for historical fiction)

    Update your author profiles on LinkedIn,, Twitter, etc

    1. Those are great additions, S.M. — thanks! I always change my header photo on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ to match my new book’s cover, but it’s often after the fact, when I go to the page and go, “Oh, yeah….” 😉

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