Self-Publishing: Commit to the Long Game

Self-Publishing: Commit to the Long Game 1024 576 Reader Views

by Award-Winning Author and Poet, JoAnn Vega

My previous article, Self-Publishing: Prepare for the Journey, addressed three essential questions for any indie author considering self-publishing. One, how large is the book publishing market? [Huge, as millions of books are published each year!] Two, do you want to be the publisher and take on the many roles or collect royalties? Three, have you identified the meta data? I concluded by strongly encouraging indie authors considering the self-publishing route to educate themselves about the process, recognize delays and detours as learning opportunities, listen to the experts, and commit to the long game.

Today’s entry addresses the launch.  Before you crank out press releases or update your social media accounts, here’s why a commitment to the long game is the indie author’s best bet for reaching their target markets.

My Assumptions

You have:

  • Made an informed decision to self-publish your manuscript.
  • Created a polished manuscript that has been professionally edited and carefully proofed.
  • Outlined a working strategic marketing plan that includes: meta data, goals, a budget, a six month launch plan and content calendar.
  • Conducted a basic assessment of your publishing, marketing, and business skills.
  • Selected a reputable self-publisher, purchased a publishing package, and completed the production checklist.

When you reach this point in the journey exhale and congratulate yourself; you’ve come a long way. It’s likely taken many months to arrive. Moving through the production process will consume a minimum of two months. Expect it to take longer, especially if it’s your first experience with self-publishing.

Repeatedly and carefully proofing the galleys while noting and correctly documenting changes in the online publication software was the most grueling part of the process for me. The more polished your manuscript is when you submit it, the more smoothly the editing process will be. This is not the time for extensive and expensive changes to the manuscript. Each publishing package comes with a certain number of changes allowed and identifies when additional charges kick-in and for how much.

The important next step, the launch approaches. You have a good idea of what skills and resources you bring to it. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Pre-publication ordering is generally not available with self- publishing companies.

Traditional publishers ask for pre-publication orders months before the actual release of the book and use the time to set up distribution networks, social media, a web site, reviews, publicity tours, interviews, send press releases, print books, and build momentum for the launch/release. The first weeks after release/launch are critical to sales. Ease of discoverability coupled with authoritative reviews creates media coverage which drives sales.

Know the difference between publication date and release date

When an indie author contracts with a self-publishing company, publication occurs when the interior and exterior of the book are approved and sent to distributors such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or Amazon. Since it takes about 2-months for the distributors to set up the file for POD or e-book, the publication date and launch, i.e. release date, usually differ.  Knowing the difference between publication date and the release date saves time, money, misunderstandings, delays, and reduces stress.

Be prepared for a marathon post publication.

Working without pre-publication orders, a publicity staff, large budget, or name recognition means momentum and sales build over time as positive reviews are collected that produce interviews and sales. Coveted reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, or leading magazines, newspapers and social media require 2-4 months lead time before the book’s official release, and are expensive.

Target reviews and contests

Many contests are available in different genres and accept books published over an identified period of years. This means you can build up to more prestigious awards with greater entry fees as you gain experience and hopefully reviews, sales, and royalties.

The conclusion: Resist the temptation to release the book before you’ve had a chance to implement your 6-month launch plan and received reviews. While traditionally published books receive most of their sales within weeks after considerable pre-publication efforts, indie authors who self-publish will grow sales over time as they promote their marketing efforts and respond to feedback. A good rule of thumb: Wait at least four months after publication to launch, six months is preferable.

About the Author

JoAnn Vega’s debut poetry collection, Wolf Woman & Other Poems, received the Bronze Medal in the Poetry category in Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice Awards, 2022-2023.

Published author with extensive experience preparing business documents, correspondence, proposals, and designing/delivering presentations to business, academic, and community groups. Twenty years of experience as an adjunct professor.

  • Jo-Ann Vega

    Greetings, Tom. Thank you; glad to hear the info is useful for you. Some of it, as you may imagine, was hard-earned. Just from what you include, here goes. Re-evaluate your launch plan in light of the information. The synopsis could be pared down. Mostly, breathe easier knowing there’s time to reach your markets. Keep at it and best to you. Jo-Ann

  • Tom Lonsdale

    Hi JoAnn,

    Just read your insightful article and wish I had seen it prior to 2nd May when I conflated the idea of Launch and Release (and re-release) of the Raw Meaty Bones Trilogy.

    Now, I’ve effectively got 3×3 editions — paperback, e-Book and audiobooks and keen to get the widest distribution.

    Do you have any further advice please?

    Below I’ve copied the synopsis of Multi-Billion-Dollar Pet Food Fraud: Hiding in Plain Sight. It builds on and expands on Raw Meaty Bones and Work Wonders.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Best wishes,

    Tom Lonsdale

    Synopsis 2 May 2023

    Multi-Billion-Dollar Pet Food Fraud: Hiding in Plain Sight

    At first glance the book raises questions, is designed to raise questions, however it also provides plenty of answers about the global pet-food fraud hiding in plain sight.
    Part memoir of Dr Tom Lonsdale’s 30-year campaign to expose and overcome the junk pet-food/vet/fake animal welfare collaboration, part textbook for vets and pet owners, part a series of indictments and prosecuting briefs for those ready to take up the struggle. The book draws together much that hitherto was scattered in the historical record.
    Twelve chapters in all, with seven appendices, the chapters each stand on their own and can be read independently of the rest of the book—a necessary function given the density of the information provided and that it upends conventional viewpoints. The junk pet food/vet/fake animal welfare fictions are repudiated and replaced with essential truths.
    The early chapters provide the reader with a grounding in animal health and veterinary care—necessary for pet-owners needing to function as their own vet in the face of mass veterinary incompetence and corruption. Vets and allied professions will find vital new information that the veterinary establishment has effectively suppressed until now.
    Chapters 6 through 10 reveal a veterinary profession lost without a moral compass gripped by a paralysis of its own making. Opportunists exploit the vacuum in veterinary integrity and leadership, all of which is aided and abetted by an indifferent media, politicians and regulators.
    The chapters are sprinkled with vignettes, line drawings and photographs. There are two letters from Buckingham Palace. Taken together, the book is a series of parables within one larger parable about systems failures and human doublespeak. It’s an attempt to get the pets’ voice heard.
    Despite sensational revelations of endemic cruelty and fraud the book avoids sensationalism. Chapter 12 contemplates some of the community-wide changes needed to spark the pet-feeding, pet-health revolution.
    As both an educational resource and brief of evidence Multi-Billion-Dollar Pet Food Fraud: Hiding in Plain Sight will reward close study in conjunction with the author’s previous books Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health and Work Wonders: Feed your dog raw meaty bones.
    For more information please go to:

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