The Publishing Plan by guest Jessica West (@West1Jess)

Publishing and Marketing Photo

Please welcome back author and editor Jessica West to the blog today as she shares about the publishing process and how authors should plan for it.

I read a great many articles about outlining a book versus flying by the seat of your pants, and they all make some great points, no matter which side of the fence they’re flinging words from. But I’ll leave that be for now, and talk about what comes after that; publishing, specifically of the indie variety. I’ve spent the last few months, from April 2014 – August 2014, getting to know my own publishing process. I’ve learned that this is just as important as the writing process.

There are several things you can do while you’re writing, while your editor is working, and while your cover is being created to ensure you are ready for the big day.

Formatting an e-book is a process that is as easy as writing a book. Exactly as easy, and as hard. Though you’re not working toward a word count goal or trying to juggle all the elements that make up a good book, for this part you have to be meticulous. When you’re making your publishing plan, even if it’s a loose guide you keep in the back of your mind, this part of the process needs to be taken into consideration because it’s tedious work that takes time.

There’s a reason why people do this for a living. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve formatted, spending hours and untold numbers of frustrated tears, just practicing to get good enough to be confident that doing it myself is, in fact, within the realm of possibility. If you are still reduced to tears at what seems an impossible task, put that on your list of professionals to hire and account for the turn-around time it will take them to complete the task to your satisfaction.

With the option now available for indies to offer pre-orders to our readers, planning events that will lead up to a future release date can really boost your sales and your ranking. And if you plan to take advantage of the pre-order program, then you’ll need to include a time-line in your publishing plan.

Count down to your date of release, and be creative when it comes to events leading up to that day. If you’re offering a “swag” giveaway for the first ten pre-orders (for example), make sure you have that swag on hand so that you’re not sweating the shipping when it comes time to send out prizes to the winners. Include the making and shipping time in your publishing plan, and leave yourself a bit of wiggle room, just in case.

There are (at least) three more things that you need to include in your publishing plan; a marketing plan, a good editor, and a good cover artist/designer.

The events leading up to the date of publication do count toward your marketing plan, but don’t rely on those things alone. A good marketing plan will include at lease some advertising on your part.

I mentioned the option to purchase Facebook and Twitter ads in a previous article, and I also said I wouldn’t waste my time or money. People don’t go to either of those sites looking for a book. You wouldn’t hang a sign at the local mechanic’s shop advertising your book, would you? Well, okay, to be fair, you might if it’s a book relevant to that industry. But it’s probably not. So don’t go around hanging ads wherever they’ll let you post them.

[share ]Be smart about advertising, and be selective. [/share] Advertise where folks are already shopping for books. I like Goodreads. They have a new self-serve ad system that is currently in beta phase. I’ve dipped my fingers into it, and I like it. Another winner would be Google Ads, but again, unless you are confident in using the system, hire an expert. And when you’re making your publishing and marketing plan, account for the time it will take to have those ads in place when you need them to coincide with each of your events and the date of release.

[share ]Everyone knows you need a good editor and cover designer.[/share] Can you do it yourself? Of course you can, sweetheart. And, oh, isn’t that lovely. You’re doing very well for someone who’s put this together all by herself.

There’s an undeniable sense of pride when you’ve accomplished this new feat and done better than you ever dreamed you could. But there are things that you just can’t know or do when you’ve spread yourself so thin. Hire an editor who will catch the imperfections that you missed in the thousands of passes you made over your book. Hire a cover designer who has an eye for what works, what’s appealing, and can make the best use of that little 1600 x 2400 space. That’s what they’re there for.

And for Pete’s sake, credit the people, either on the copyright page or in the acknowledgments. I was astonished to learn (recently) that this isn’t typically done. If someone had a hand in creating the final product, even if it was just the use of a creative commons stock photo, a simple nod in their direction is common courtesy and it doesn’t cost you a thing.

As it pertains to the publishing plan, account for the time your editor will need to work on each level of edits, the time you’ll need to make the necessary revisions, and the time your cover artist will need to create your cover.

Respect the industry. There are a number of different types of authors publishing books to major retailers like they’re glorified blogs with slightly stricter posting rules. Make sure you’re in the category you want to be placed in, because readers can spot the difference between a serious author and a bullshitter from miles away.

Guide yourself in the direction you want to go, but allow yourself to enjoy the process every step of the way.

About Jessica West:

Jessica212smallerJessica West is a stay at home wife and mother of three. Though her kids are still young enough to think she’s cool, her husband knows better but he likes her anyway. She’s a Freelance Writer and Editor, and an Independent Author. You never know if she’ll leave a trail of blood or pixie dust in her wake, but such is the life of a Horror and Fantasy writer. She prefers writing in those genres, but Romance and Erotica are her guilty pleasures. Many authors – including Stephen King, Clive Barker, Terry Goodkind, and Ayn Rand – have contributed to the delinquency of this intermediate writer, and now she’s just whistling her own version of Dixie. Her newest release, Red River Rangers; A Whiskey & Wheelguns Novelette, is available exclusively at Amazon as a Kindle e-book.
TwitterFacebookGoogle+ | Write This Way (Personal Blog) | Jessica West (Freelance Writer/Editor Blog) | Prose Before Ho Hos (Irreverent Humor Blog)


About Red River Rangers; A Whiskey & Wheelguns Novelette:

W&WRedRiverRangersVampires, zombies and one undead hooker battle to determine the fate of the weird west.

Three days after they hanged her for the brutal massacre of a group of teens, Catherine Cartwright rose from a shallow grave. She and Jesse set out to find a safe place and some answers. They find allies at a reservation and a threat the likes of which neither of them had ever heard of. Cat’s hopes of finding a cure for herself are surmounted by the urgent desire to find one for Jesse when he’s bitten by one of the infectious creatures wandering the frontier. Her last hope is to kill the monster who started it all before Jesse turns, and even that isn’t a sure bet.


Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.

Starting November 3: Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter andsign up today here! and pick up Broken Pieces (#1 on Amazon Women’s Poetry Paid) today!

Posted in ,


  1. S. Usher Evans on October 13, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Yes to all of this – except caution on the Goodreads ad. I paid $25 for an ad, and I did not see much growth on my book on others’ TBR lists. A better investment would be to take that $25 or $100 and put it towards getting a couple print copies of your book and do a giveaway. I saw HUGE increase in additions of my book to to-read lists after the three giveaways I did this year. Also, your giveaway winners are more likely to write you a review.

    Also, pre-orders are available on all the major platforms now (amazon, itunes, barnes and noble), so utilize those to your advantage. It also gives you 2-3 months “buffer” time to fix any small errors or formatting mistakes you catch before the book goes live (if you’re like me and read and reread your book fifteen times). You also have the ability to capture sale at the point of contact, and all of those sales take effect on the same day, potentially increasing your numbers on Amazon’s chart.

    For me, I’m planning on releasing multiple books a year, so I’ve got a 3-4 month writing period, 2 month content edit/beta reader period, 1 month copy-edit period, 1 month formatting/final qa check period, and 2-3 months pre-order and pre-release marketing buzz. I’m still refining the timelines, but so far, it seems to be working for me.

    • Jessica West on October 16, 2014 at 8:39 am

      I’ve gotten the best results from Goodreads ads, personally. To each his/her own, I suppose. Either way, advertising in some form is a must. That pre-order feature is the best thing to happen to indie authors since KDP, imo. Once you get a good, solid draft of your MS you can set the publication date for 3 months out (on Amazon) and plan all the rest around that day. It’s great when you hit a groove that works for you, kudos!

  2. M. J. Kelley on October 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Great post, Jess! I especially appreciate your recommendation to credit those who helped in the process. I’ve always wondered why this wasn’t done more.

    • Jessica West on October 16, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Thanks, MJ. You know I’m fairly new to all of this, so I was really surprised to find out artist and editor credit isn’t typically done. I just assumed that was a common courtesy. I do hope it becomes one.

      • Rachel Thompson on October 16, 2014 at 8:52 am

        My 2 cents: I have always given credit as well. One of the writers I’m in a group with advised against it because she feels it looks as if the book is a collaborative writing effort. I disagree, because Amazon and others are very clear in designating exactly who does what (i.e., editor, graphics, etc). I’m all for giving credit where credit is due as well!

        • Jessica West on October 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm

          That’s a great point, too, Rachel. When adding contributors to your book in Amazon, you have the option to specify who did what. A book is, typically, a collaborative effort, even if it isn’t co-authored. The only reason I would assume a book was a collaborative writing effort is if the description specifically states by Author One and Author Two. I don’t believe including other types of contributors in any way infers a collaborative writing effort. Thanks for bringing that up!

  3. Julie Elizabeth Powell on November 10, 2014 at 4:29 am

    An interesting and helpful guide. I’ve tried it all and do my best to be professional, although lack of funds force me to do it all myself.

    • Jessica West on November 19, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      We have to do the best we can with what we’ve got. This is another reason why I love the writing community. Sometimes you’ll find another writer who’s in the same boat, but with a different skill set and you can trade services and save money. I got very lucky with my novelette. I had a few good friends, each talented in their own way, in my corner helping me out. I’ve been saving money for future projects, doing the freelance thing to feed my fiction addiction. 😉 But I do get that not everyone has that option. We all have to find our own way, make our own plan according to what works for us. Thanks for reading, and best wishes!

      ~ Jess

  4. Friday Finds: Week 32 | Avid Reader on May 8, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    […] Publishing Plan Guest Jessica West West […]

  5. […] There’s a way to ensure greater success, and the harder you work at creating and implementing a publishing plan, the more successful each book will […]

  6. […] truth, they probably don’t know. Why? Because they have no plan. They’re just out there having fun! And that’s cool. Some people fall into social media […]

Leave a Comment