Checklist For Successful Self-Publishing

Publishing a book is simple: If it mean sending a manuscript to potential literary agents or publishers who might pick up your book, and sell it to readers.

Success in publishing a book, however; is an entirely different matter- the same is true with self-publishing a book.  This month, we are focusing on self-publishing success, but also on success in the traditional publishing industry which is often harder to have for a new writer.  A checklist on publishing in this area is a must for any writer who wants to build their career.  If this career is based upon creative writing, then it is the foundation a writer needs.

1) Before the book is even in a first draft, a writer needs a synopsis and an outline of where they are taking this book:  I know that many new writers might argue the point of an outline which can hinder their creative writing flow.  

They- a new writer or a writer in love with a particular character- will say they can’t be able to add or subtract a chapter as needed. 

I will argue the opposite is true.  A synopsis and an outline make is easier to adjust and become more creative.  There is more work and frustration involved when a writer notices the plot isn’t working on page 205 of a 250 page novel, or the character is one dimensional when they shouldn’t be.

2) Do the research needed for success in self-publishing a book: When it comes down to the writing of a fiction book, knowing where my plot is going means I have a lot of research I need to put in.  Creative writing means that while I can adjust the plot, or the characters, the foundation needs to be believable. 

 Bram Stoker published the novel Dracula, but he did his research on the prince of Wallachia who became the main character.  This research paid off after his death.  He wasn’t writing for a living when he died, but his descendants have seen money from the royalties of Dracula.

The same holds true when I am dealing with literary agents or publishers or even with self-publishing companies.  I look for information on who wants to be queried and who does not.  I also find out the steps I need to take to have someone look at my manuscript.  

3) Plan your time: Last month, we talked about fears, challenges, and doubts.  Not only does a fiction writer have to face this, but every person has a life beyond writing.  Yes, I can hang up a lot of positive writing quotes, but when my family or my work calls, the reality is that I do not have the time to write.  

I have 24 hours in a day, just like every other person. It is not conceivable for me to be able to write a 400 page novel in two months, but I can write an outline in a month.  It is all about planning my time.

4) Setting a big goal, but breaking that big goal down to a daily goal: Success in writing boils down to setting a daily goal.  Success in publishing is much the same, except that I have a big goal– to have a book published this year.  It’s a huge goal, but I can break it down.


I can spend an hour a day looking through my Writer’s Market books, and literary agents websites and blogs to learn who is looking for fiction, and who isn’t and what they want.  Self-publishing is much the same.

I can learn to create a better manuscript by reading about what it takes to improve my plot or tighten parts of the novel which are not working.  The big goal is there, but I’m breaking it down to make it easier.

5) Know your limits and then push them to make them bigger: I like to think I have some sort of superpowers where I can do it all on my own.  The reality is that I have limitations.  These limitations are are part of how I see myself as a writer, but they can be changed.

I’m human, I have a lot to learn, but there are writers out there who have the abilities I do not have.  

This is why there are editors, or cover designers, marketers and many more who work with me to make my book a success.  It is about teamwork, and knowing that while I can “move” my limits, I still have them and there is someone out there to help me create a successfully published book.