I once read that 80% of Americans have an idea for a book in their heads. If you want to make it happen, you’ll need the following:

  1. A Manuscript – If you didn’t finish your book yet, go do it. Now.
  2. A Mentor – Find someone who already self-published. You need a human being, not just articles and blogs.
  3. A Partner – You cannot do this by yourself. Without my wife, Michelle our book never would have made it.
  4. A Plan – My mentor told me to, “plan my work, and then work my plan.” Read this blog and start planning.
  5. Connections – You know talented people with skills, get them on board.
  6. An Experience Oriented Approach – This can’t be just about your book. Give your readers an experience.
  7. A Marketing Strategy – Your book won’t sell itself. How, when and where will you spread the word?
  8. A List of Event Locations/Buyers/Displays – Do this while your book is being designed, not later.
  9. Money – Start positioning your money. If you skimp on quality, it will show. Could be 10k or more.
  10. An Accountant / Bookkeeper – Bank accounts, invoices, sales tax, receipts, the IRS. Enough said.
  11. A Pricing Strategy – What will the price of your book be? More importantly, why will it cost that much?
  12. Quick Books – Accounting and record keeping software that my wife swears by.
  13. An LLC – You’re the publishing company so you need to make it official.
  14. An EIN Number – All part of doing business.
  15. A Checking Account – We chose a local credit union. You’re a local business, may as well help another.
  16. A Savings Account – Same as checking account.
  17. A Business Credit Card – Get one that earns bonus points and remember businesses have lots of expenses.
  18. A Vendor’s License – If you’re selling something, you need a license to sell it.
  19. A Mileage Log – You’ll be driving your car all over the place before and after you launch your book.
  20. A Business Phone # – Unless you want everyone calling your personal number, get a separate one.
  21. Business Cards – Put one in each book you sell. Make it sharp and memorable, not future scratch paper.
  22. An Attorney – You will need to have contracts reviewed and/or drafted. There are templates online.
  23. An Artist – I was fortunate to know Dan Miller. Ask local artists, they’re out there.
  24. Research – Read, read, and read some more. Articles and books. Pretty much for every topic you see here.
  25. Legal Pads – You will be taking lots of notes so whatever works best for you.
  26. Post It Notes – We should have bought stock in 3M before we got started. You’ll use hundreds.
  27. Manila Folders – Invoices, receipts, articles…
  28. A Filing Cabinet – The manila folders will have to go somewhere.
  29. A Designer – Have you ever designed a book? Do you know how to? Neither do I. Hire a designer.
  30. A Proofreader – You’re attached to your writing. Let a fresh, objective set of eyes clean it up for you.
  31. Dust Jacket Text – You can either pay someone to write it, or do it yourself. Pretend it’s an interview.
  32. A Photographer – You’ll need headshots taken and pictures from your launch party.
  33. A Website – Remember that book store that closed? My point exactly.
  34. A Website Designer – Have you designed a website? Do you know how to? Neither do I. Hire a designer.
  35. Website Text – Like the dust jacket, but you better do some research to find out what you need on it.
  36. A Newsletter – Keep people coming back. Remind them you’re still here, especially around the holidays.
  37. A Trailer – No, you didn’t write a movie, but images are compelling, and moving images even more so.
  38. A Trailer Designer – I think you already know where I’m going with this, so let’s move on.
  39. A Press Kit – Our designer made one for us to give to radio hosts and news reporters. Quality counts.
  40. ISBNs – Buy in bulk for the hardcover version of your book, as well as the eventual soft cover and eBook.
  41. A Printing Company – It’s not a book until it’s in print. Don’t wait. Find one now. Yes it early, but time flies.
  42. Storage Space – What dry, cool place are you going to store the 2,000+ books you ordered? Find one.
  43. Shipping Supplies – What size bubble wrap envelope will your book fit in? What else are you selling?
  44. Packaging Labels – Make sure the size is appropriate for your shipping envelopes.
  45. Boxes – You’ll get plenty when your book arrives, hold onto and utilize them.
  46. A GPS – You probably already have one, but making deliveries is ten times easier with than without.
  47. An Elevator Speech – Make me want to buy your book in 30 seconds.
  48. A Drive-Thru-Window Speech – Now do it in 10 seconds.
  49. An Endorsement – Ask an author to review your manuscript. If she likes it, ask for a short endorsement.
  50. A Launch Party Venue – Choose a place that matches your personality, your book, and/or your audience.
  51. A Support Staff – Your guests need welcomed, directed where to go, fed, and sold a book. Get help.
  52. An Itinerary – Give one to everyone helping put on the event. Plan it minute-by-minute.
  53. A “Techie” – Ours created an audio/visual presentation of our book and was the MC for our launch parties.
  54. A Featured Guest – Get someone to introduce you who knows you & your book. A local “celeb” if possible.
  55. A Music List – Match the vibe of your book if you can. Keep it fun and cater to your expected crowd.
  56. A Microphone – “I’ll just talk loudly enough so everyone can hear me.” No, you won’t. Borrow a mic.
  57. Digital and Paper Fliers – Grab their attention with emails, social media posts, and public postings.
  58. A Flash Drive – You’ll take it to your local printing store so they can make your fliers and signs.
  59. A Credit Card Service Provider – It might be the same company you use on your website. It might not be.
  60. A Credit Card Reader – Purchasing your book should be as quick and painless as possible.
  61. An Extension Cord – If your credit card reader is a separate device you’ll need to plug it in somewhere.
  62. A Money Box – The cash, coins, and checks need to go somewhere.
  63. Change (bills and coins) – Look at your prices to determine your most likely need in terms of change.
  64. Money Bags – You’ll need them to carry cash, change, and checks to and from events and/or the bank.
  65. A Price List – Post this at the purchasing table during your launch. Match the font with that of your book.
  66. “Today’s Special” Signs – We had a 25% Off Graduation Season Special. Attach these to your displays.
  67. A Checks Payable” Sign – We forgot this for our private launch. Big mistake.
  68. A Price List Cheat Sheet – Make it easy to ring up your sales. List your most likely sales totals, tax included.
  69. A Calculator – Go old school on this one. It’ll make it easier than trying to do everything on one device.
  70. Receipt Books – Some of your customers will want a receipt and these will keep you organized.
  71. Pens – You’ll need them to sign your books. Your customers need them to sign their receipts.
  72. Plastic Bags – These help if you’re serving food/drinks at your launch. Good for rainy day deliveries too.
  73. Clip Boards – Use these for your Newsletter Sign-Up Sheet at your launch party.
  74. Scissors & Tape – We needed some and didn’t have any. Better safe than sorry.
  75. Table Cloths – Spruce up the launch venue. Get a color that compliments your book’s cover.
  76. Shrink Wrap, Foam Boards, and Easels – Display and sell posters of the artwork in your book.
  77. Drink Tickets – If you’re buying each guest a drink or two, you’ll need these.
  78. Raffle Tickets – We raffled off a book, magnet, river stone, poster, and 2 beer glasses from the venue.
  79. A Raffle Drawing Sign – List the raffle prizes. Again, match the font with that of your book.
  80. Picture Frames – You’ll need one for your price list and raffle drawing sign.
  81. A Book Display Shelf – We made displays to feature our book in waiting rooms of local businesses.
  82. Plastic Key Tags – Our display shelves have removable tags for people to take when interested in the book.
  83. Display Fliers – Give businesses a book and a picture of the display to help them decide to display or not.
  84. Bulk Pricing Fliers – Let your potential bulk buyers know how much they can save with each purchase.
  85. “Coming Soon” Fliers – Put these on displays in venues you’ll be doing book signings and/or talks.

If you’ve made it this far you’re either a very close friend of mine or determined to self-publish, maybe both. Regardless, you’ll need these too:


  1. Faith – Believe this will happen, maybe not how you want or expect, but one day you will hold your book in our hands.
  2. Patience – This will take longer than you want it to. Our book was delivered 24 hours before our launch. Be patient.
  3. Perseverance – Some days this will not be easy. Press on. Day, after day, after day…
  4. Thick Skin – You don’t have time to dwell on the doubts and fears of other people.
  5. A Sense of Humor – Be ready to laugh off many of the twists and turns. You’re in for a ride, enjoy it.
  6. Priorities – Yes this is important, but so are your family and friends, even more so. Remember that.
  7. Balance – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Same thing applies to you. Take a day off when you need one.
  8. Discernment – You have important decisions to make. Ask for advice, and choose wisely.
  9. Humility – It might be “your” book, but once again you cannot, and will not do this on your own.
  10. Flexibility – You’re hiring experts/professionals for a reason. Don’t get too attached to your ideas.
  11. Diet and Exercise – No joke. You better make time to take care of yourself. This is a marathon.
  12. Generosity – Embrace the chance to give away free copies of your book to those who need one.
  13. Gratitude – Thank everyone a million times over. For good measure, thank them again.
  14. _____ – This blank is for you. I know you’ll think of something. And by all means, please share 🙂