In a Rush to Release Your Book? Review this 20-Point Checklist First

In a Rush to Release Your Book? Review this 20-Point Checklist First

I know the feeling. After months if not years working on your masterpiece, you want that book on Amazon, now! Not so fast I say.

Marketing is one thing. We should all know by now that this begins well before the release date. But there are a number of book production and distribution details to work out, not to mention some business fundamentals.

Every few months I asked to rush a book out so I thought I’d share 20 things you can do to help improve the speed. This list is followed by the six broad topics of the book production process.

The hyperlinks take you to useful articles on

  1. Decide on an imprint name. Necessary for buying ISBNs.
  2. Are you buying an ISBN? (Yes, I hope) Or considering the use of the free CreateSpace ISBN?* (Don’t do it!)
  3. Do you want an LCCN?*
  4. Size of book (dimensions).
  5. Book cover-front design.
  6. Book cover-back design, and content (bio, picture, description, blurbs).
  7. Book cover-spine design. Show the publisher name?
  8. Title
  9. Subtitle
  10. Series name
  11. Book description: short (<350 characters) and longer for Amazon.
  12. Book categories
  13. Book keywords
  14. Price
  15. Copyright page wording
  16. Do you need a legal review?
  17. Editing
  18. Copyediting
  19. Proofing
  20. Where are you going to sell it? Distribution is the first place we start when helping authors plan their books.

*check out Register Your Book for complete details about ISBNs, barcodes, copyright and Library of Congress Control Numbers.

Here’s a little more detail about these 20-points.

1. Are you the decisive type?

The surer you are of what you need, want, and can afford, the faster things will go. Publishing requires lots of little decisions—some you need to make, some made in consultation. Allow more time if you are a consensus builder, or indecisive.

2. Do you need a legal review?

Books that reference trademarks, use extensive excerpts, quote music lyrics, include images, or make certain claims or promises should be reviewed by an attorney with experience in copyright law. We had a project get tied up for 6 months last year due to legal review. Entire sections of the book had to be re-written. (Someone with a successful book, or deep pockets, probably has the most to be concerned about.)

3. How tight is your editing?

How confident are you about the text? Changes during the book layout process can be costly both in terms of time and money. And this isn’t only about proofing. Show the book to trusted readers, ideally those that have strong opinions about your topic, and are not your friends. After making any adjustments, hire a copyeditor. Then a proofer. The book design and layout process will fly after this.

4. Don’t rush the cover.

In our publishing timeline chart, you notice that we put the cover very early in the process. This gives you time to get different opinions and ideally show it to prospective readers. It also takes time to do it right. Don’t rush.

5. Be meticulous about your metadata.

The title might be set, but what about testing the subtitle for keyword strength. Book descriptions and pricing should also not be left to the last minute, and treated as an afterthought. If you want a Library of Congress Control Number, that’s going to take at least a week plus the time to create the data block*. It’s a step that cannot be completed after the book is released.

6. Shipping eats up time.

When we tell someone in a hurry that we can move quick—”your book in less than a month”—we get immediate push back about the timing. It gets calmer once the caller understands that it takes time for CreateSpace or IngramSpark print and mail the book, often half or more of that one-month period.


What is the right timeline for your book?

Contact us to talk about what you can expect for your book. We can review your circumstances, and guide you down the path that makes the most sense for your goals, and budget.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

Does your book need a legal review? A Simple 5-Item Checklist

Does your book need a legal review? A Simple 5-Item Checklist

Not long ago, an attorney asked me:

“Do self-publishers submit their books for some kind of legal review?”

It was the first time I’d been asked that question, and interestingly never once has a client brought up legal reviews. I’m not sure but my sense is that the majority of authors going the self-publishing route give it only passing attention unless perhaps they have a large exposure—i.e. they have a lot to loose financially. (Not that this should be the only reason.)

Laws and business practices change; a disclosure or disclaimer that used to be “standard” may no longer protect you from defamation or some other claim. I am not a lawyer but doesn’t common sense and respect for fellow rights holders dictate that we authors consult an attorney versed in publishing law before we take our work public?

If your book is going through the editing process, now would be the ideal time to work through this simple 5-item checklist. You owe it to your book (not to mention  your peace of mind!).

1. Book covers: title, images (if any), trademarks, and the statements you make on the back cover in the case of a print book. Are you making promises or using endorsements? Are you making any claims that may need a disclosure?

2. Images: speaking of images, is each one properly credited? Keep in mind that some images are licensed for specific uses and/or can be used a limited number of times before they need to be re-licensed. Perhaps it was a non-commercial license image that you first used as part of a blog post.

One of my non-profit clients found a terrific image in Creative Commons but the license did not provide for commercial use. He explained his situation in an email to the France-based rights holder. She agreed to let him use it, but she wanted payment. So he proposed $25 (lower than I would have offered) and she accepted. His honesty was rewarded with a lower-than-expected licensing cost.

3. Attribution/Credit. Depending on what you are crediting, the rights holder may have their own requirements for attribution. Respect these and credit the work exactly as you’ve been asked. In some cases, such as brief quotes, it is a simple exercise. As an author, how would you feel if someone quoted you with no or limited attribution?

4. Trademarks. Sometimes adding a ® or ™ is sufficient, but it may also be necessary to add specific language to your copyright page. For my own book, my attorney suggested I contact Amazon because I use the trademarks Amazon and Kindle in the title plus I was showing images of their Kindle reading apps. Amazon responded in less than 18 hours that the title was fine as long as I referenced their ownership of the trademarks on my copyright page.

Note: many of the larger trademark holders have a section on their website that addresses issues like this so make that your first stop.

5. Copyright. You can copyright your own works, but did you include any third-party content—song lyrics, photos, text passages? If yes, it’s time to call a lawyer. In fact, if this is part of your editorial plan you should consider talking with an attorney before you begin writing your book.

These are just the more common issues that arise in publishing a book but there are many others such has how the author references events, companies or people. A small investment before you publish can be valuable insurance against future claims. This is one case where it is better to *not* beg for forgiveness.

To find a qualified attorney, consult a trade association such as the Independent Book Publishers Association or Google “publishing law.”

Related link:

Also see my post, Copyright Essentials: An FAQ for eBook Publishers, or contact me at

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash