New authors “ready to publish” often come to me with a shiny edited manuscript, ready to just convert it to PDF, pop it onto Amazon, and start raking in cash.

Then they start asking questions.

  • “How do I market my book?”
  • “Which platform should I publish on?”
  • “What is a good price point?”

All fair questions! All necessary, vital questions. Questions they should have asked six months ago.

If you are a new author planning to publish a book in the near future, the best advice I can give you is to sit down and get clear about your goals long before you publish.

Your publishing goals will inform every decision you make during the publishing process. Being clear about them from the start will enable you to draw up a clear roadmap and parameters for decision-making.

If you don’t know what you want to achieve, you will find yourself stuck when faced with questions at every turn: Do I need a barcode? Should I select expanded distribution? What size should my book be?

You might think it will be easy to make it all up as you go along, and to an extent there are decisions that you can make on the fly, but there are a few key decisions you need to make right from the get-go if you’re after a seamless, efficient publishing process.

The key decisions that will inform your publishing goals and strategy are:

  • What do you want to achieve with your book? Are you in it for the money, or do you only care about sharing your message?
  • Do you want to sell through bookshops, and if so, how important is that to you? This will determine the platform to use, and requires a lot of hard, upfront work up to six months before publication.
  • Is there a specific date or time of year you want to publish your book? What deadline are you working towards? Have you considered how seasonal sales will affect your publication date? Is your schedule realistic?
  • Do you have high-end requirements for your book’s format or finishing? A fancy hardcover requires a more involved process and a higher budget!
  • Which brings us to the most important question: What is your budget?

The answers to these questions will ultimately determine your publishing strategy and will inform every consecutive decision you make. Where you publish, how you publish, and what your trade-off will need to be.

Don’t only start thinking about these things when your book is already done and ready to publish.

It breaks my heart when I work with someone who is working to a deadline only to discover they have to go back to square one because their budget doesn’t suit their goals, or they didn’t do the things they needed to do six months ago.

Plan ahead. You’ll thank me, I promise!

Happy writing!