Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Self-Publishing Business Checklist

A friend about to embark on the beginning of her self-publishing journey asked me for a checklist for first steps. I figured if I was going to put it together, I might as well make it a blog post. Anyone with something to add to the checklist, feel free to do so in the comments!

  • Decide whether you will be a sole proprietorship, LLC, S Corp, etc.
  • Decide whether you want a press name, in which case you need to file for your "DBA" (Doing Business As) with Secretary of State (search already existing business names on the site first)
  • File for your EIN at IRS.gov
  • Create a separate business account (once you have your EIN)
  • Sign up for a Square account
  • Sign up for a PayPal account separate from your personal one
  • Create files for any business related documents/receipts/forms
  • Keep track of startup expenses, which are tax deductible
  • Budget self-publishing and business start up costs--what is your break even point?
  • Figure out the price of your book/s once you know the production costs
  • Figure out where you will publish (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Lightning Force, Ingram, etc.) and open accounts with them
  • Get a sales tax license for city and state
  • Purchase ISBN numbers from R.R. Bowker (cheaper in bulk, and you will likely need at least two for each book, as each format requires its own)
  • Contract book cover, editor, etc., as needed
  • Research/complete formatting--ebooks are formatted differently than paperbacks, plus different POD sites may have different requirements (Smashwords has additional formatting instructions beyond what's required by Amazon, for example)
  • Decide on front matter (keep it simple and brief), including any disclaimers
  • Decide on back matter, such as bio, thank yous/acknowledgments, website/social media links
  • Upload final cover/formatted book
  • Order a proof and carefully review the ebook after uploading
  • Make it live once it's ready!
Some resources I found helpful:

I threw this together pretty quickly, so I'm sure I forgot something. Like I said above, feel free to make further suggestions or link to resources you liked in the comments.

And good luck!

May you find your Muse.


  1. Good heavens, that's daunting! I am at the beginning of my writing journey, so I didn't realize all that went into publishing. Thank you for posting.

  2. That does cover the basics I teach in my seminars.

  3. Great advice! Thanks for laying out the basics, it's very helpful:)

  4. And that's why I am afraid to be a self-pubbed author. That's a lot of steps and I am notoriously bad about missing steps!

  5. This is awesome! I'm getting closer to making decisions about how to publish and this is very helpful :) Thanks!!

  6. Thanks Shannon - that's a great list to have at the ready and Diane confirms your ideas. Excellent I'm sure everyone will find it really helpful - cheers Hilary